Prayer Short Version
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the malice 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, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen
Many are familiar with the short form, which use to be recited at the altar’s foot after low Masses before the post-Vatican II changes to the Mass. It is commonly recited after the rosary and following Extraordinary Form Masses.
Prayer Long Version
O GLORIOUS Prince of the heavenly host, Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle and fearful warfare that we are waging against the principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the evil spirits. Come thou to the assistance of men, whom Almighty God created immortal, making them in His own image and likeness and redeeming them at a great price from the tyranny of Satan. Fight this day the battle of the Lord with thy legions of holy Angels, even as of old thou didst fight against Lucifer, the leader of the proud spirits and all his rebel angels, who were powerless to stand against thee, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And that great dragon was cast forth, the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and satan, who seduces the whole world; and he was cast forth upon Earth, and his angels were sent with him.
But behold! the ancient enemy of mankind and a murderer from the beginning has been fiercely aroused. Changing himself into an angel of light, he goes about with the whole multitude of the wicked spirits to invade the earth and blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, to plunder, to slay, and to consign to eternal damnation the souls that have been destined for a crown of everlasting life. This wicked serpent, like an unclean torrent, pours into men of depraved minds and corrupt hearts the poison of his malice, the spirit of lying, impiety and blasphemy, and the deadly breath of impurity and every form of vice and iniquity.
Be favorable to Thy Church, the Bride of the Lamb without spot, whose enemies have filled to overflowing with gall and inebriated with wormwood. They have laid profane hands upon Her most sacred treasures. Where the See of the most blessed Peter and the Chair of Truth has been constituted as a light to the nations, there they have placed a throne of their abomination and impiety; so that with the Pastor struck, they may prevail to disperse the flock.
Therefore, most invincible Leader, be with the people of God against this spiritual wickedness and bring about victory. Thou art venerated by Holy Church as Her guard and patron; Thou art glorified as our defender against the impious powers of earth and of hell. Unto thee the Lord hath handed over the souls of the redeemed to be placed in happiness above.
Entreat the God of peace, to obliterate satan beneath our feet, lest he prevail further to hold men captive, and to injure the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that the mercy of the Lord may swiftly overtake us, and apprehend the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and satan, and send him bound into the abyss, so that he may seduce the nations no more.
Henceforth having been confided to thy escort and protection, we sacred ministers by the authority of the Holy Mother Church [if recited by a cleric of the order of exorcist or above, say instead: by our authority], do undertake to repel the infestations of diabolical deceit in the Name of Jesus Christ, Our God and Lord.
V. Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered hostile powers.
R.The Lion of the tribe of Juda has conquered, the root of David.
V. Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
R.As we have hoped in Thee.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R.And let my cry come unto Thee.
The longer form of the prayer is most commonly used for exorcisms.
Origin of the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
The Vision of Pope Leo XIII
A commonly told version of St. Leo’s vision follows:
On October 13, 1884, Pope Leo XIII had a remarkable vision. When the aged Pontiff had finished celebrating Mass in his private Vatican Chapel, attended by a few Cardinals and members of the Vatican staff, he suddenly stopped at the foot of the altar. He stood there for about 10 minutes, as if in a trance, his face ashen white. Then, going immediately from the Chapel to his office, he composed the above prayer to St. Michael with instructions it be said after all Low Masses everywhere.
When asked what had happened, he explained that, as he was about to leave the foot of the altar, he suddenly heard voices – two voices, one kind and gentle, the other guttural and harsh. They seemed to come from near the tabernacle. As he listened, he heard the following conversation:
The guttural voice, the voice of Satan in his pride, boasted to Our Lord: “I can destroy Your Church.”
The gentle voice of Our Lord: “You can? Then go ahead and do so.”
Satan: “To do so, I need more time and more power.”
Our Lord: “How much time? How much power?
Satan: “75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service.”
Our Lord: “You have the time, you will have the power. Do with them what you will.”
In 1886, Pope Leo XIII decreed the short prayer to St. Michael be said at the end of “low” Mass throughout the universal Church, and the practice of the congregation praying this prayer at the end of Mass continued until the introduction of the new (Novus Ordo) Mass in the late 1960’s.
However, at the end of his Angelus message given in St. Peter’s Square,
Sunday, April 24, 1994, Blessed Pope John Paul II urged Catholics to recite this prayer to Saint Michael once again:
May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle spoken of in the Letter to the Ephesians: ‘”Draw strength in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Eph 6, 10). It is the same battle that the Book of Revelation refers to, recalling before our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (cf. Revelation 12: 7). Pope Leo XIII was certainly well aware of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced 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 today this prayer is no longer recited at the end of the Eucharistic celebration, I invite everyone not to forget, but to recite it to be helped in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.”
There are many resources online about the origin of Pope Leo’s prayer to St. Michael. My favorite is perhaps a dated site, but the information is scriptural and basic concerning St. Michael. The link to CERC – Catholic Education Resource Center is HERE.
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