Saint Michael the Archangel held an important heavenly role in doing battle against evil, protecting Christians against assault from the devil. The prayer to Saint Michael originated with Pope Leo XIII in 1886. Legend has it that the Pope received a vision in which he saw the great damage Satan would do to the Church and the world in the 20th century.
Pope Leo XIII called out to St. Michael for protection from the evil to come:
Prayer to Saint Michael
Saint Michael Archangel,
defend us in battle,
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil;
may God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God, cast into hell
Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Inspiring Performance of the Prayer to Saint Michael
Variant English translations have “Holy Michael”, “Saint Michael”, “malice and snares”, “may God rebuke him”, “cast into Hell”, “all evil spirits”, “prowl through the world seeking the ruin”, and other differences. The English translation that was used in Ireland is quoted in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses.
Sunday 24 April 1994, Pope John Paul II recommended its use, saying:
May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle that the Letter to the Ephesians speaks of: ‘Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might’ (Ephesians 6:10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle, recalling before our eyes the image of St Michael the Archangel (cf. Revelation 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had this picture in mind when, at the end of the last century, he brought in, throughout the Church, a special prayer to St Michael: ‘Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil…’ Although this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.
Pope Leo XIII granted indulgences to bishops and to priests lawfully authorized by their ordinaries who each day would devoutly recite a formula of exorcism against Satan and the rebel angels.
The formula of exorcism, which was then inserted into the Roman Ritual contained within it a quite different prayer to Saint Michael, of which the following is an English translation:
Formula for Exorcism
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
O glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, defend us in battle, and in the struggle which is ours against the principalities and Powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against spirits of evil in high places (Eph 6:12). Come to the aid of men, whom God created immortal, made in his own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil (1 Cor 6:20).
Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there a place for them any longer in Heaven. But that cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan, who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with all his angels (Rev 12:7-9).
Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of man has taken courage, Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of his Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory.
This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity.
These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions (Lam 3:15).
In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most blessed Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.
Arise then, O invincible prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and bring them the victory.
The Church venerates thee as protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of this world and of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude.
Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.
In 1902, a year and a half before the death of Pope Leo XIII, a new edition of the Roman Ritual considerably shortened the formula as a whole and in particular the prayer to Saint Michael within it, making that prayer a sort of preface to the prayer of exorcism. The prayer was shorn of the preceding version’s paragraphs 2-6 and of the phrase “in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of this world and of hell” in paragraph 7.
In his English version of the Roman Ritual, Philip T. Weller gives the following translation:
In name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
St. Michael the Archangel, illustrious leader of the heavenly army,
defend us in the battle against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of darkness and the spirit of wickedness in high places.
Come to the rescue of mankind, whom God has made in His own image and likeness, and purchased from Satan’s tyranny at so great a price. Holy Church venerates you as her patron and guardian. The Lord has entrusted to you the task of leading the souls of the redeemed to heavenly blessedness. Entreat the Lord of peace to cast Satan down under our feet, so as to keep him from further holding man captive and doing harm to the Church. Carry our prayers up to God’s throne, that the mercy of the Lord may quickly come and lay hold of the beast, the serpent of old, Satan and his demons, casting him in chains into the abyss, so that he can no longer seduce the nations.
The Opus Sanctorum Angelorum presents the following prayer:
Act of Consecration to Saint Michael the Archangel
Oh most noble Prince of the Angelic Hierarchies, valorous warrior of Almighty God and zealous lover of His glory, terror of the rebellious angels, and love and delight of all the just angels, my beloved Archangel Saint Michael, desiring to be numbered among your devoted servants, I, today offer and consecrate myself to you, and place myself, my family, and all I possess under your most powerful protection.
I entreat you not to look at how little, I, as your servant have to offer, being only a wretched sinner, but to gaze, rather, with favorable eye at the heartfelt affection with which this offering is made, and remember that if from this day onward I am under your patronage, you must during all my life assist me, and procure for me the pardon of my many grievous offenses, and sins, the grace to love with all my heart my God, my dear Savior Jesus, and my Sweet Mother Mary, and to obtain for me all the help necessary to arrive to my crown of glory.
Defend me always from my spiritual enemies, particularly in the last moments of my life.
Come then, oh Glorious Prince, and succor me in my last struggle, and with your powerful weapon cast far from me into the infernal abysses that prevaricator and proud angel that one day you prostrated in the celestial battle. Amen.
Saint Michael is a symbol of strength against the evil forces of the world. May we refer to these prayers in times of darknesss when we are seeking protection, comfort and courage. God Bless
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