Pope Leo and Saint Michael the Archangel

In 1947 Father Domenico Pechenino related what he had witnessed over six decades before.

“I do not remember the exact year. One morning the great Pope Leo XIII had celebrated a Mass and, as usual, was attending a Mass of thanksgiving. Suddenly, we saw him raise his head and stare at something above the celebrant’s head. He was staring motionlessly, without batting an eye. His expression was one of horror and awe; the colour and look on his face changing rapidly. Something unusual and grave was happening in him.

“Finally, as though coming to his senses, he lightly but firmly tapped his hand and rose to his feet. He headed for his private office. His retinue followed anxiously and solicitously, whispering: ‘Holy Father, are you not feeling well? Do you need anything?’ He answered: ‘Nothing, nothing.’ About half an hour later, he called for the Secretary of the Congregation of Rites and, handing him a sheet of paper, requested that it be printed and sent to all the ordinaries around the world. What was that paper? It was the prayer that we recite with the people at the end of every Mass. It is the plea to Mary and the passionate request to the Prince of the heavenly host, (St. Michael: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle) beseeching God to send Satan back to hell.”

Cardinal Giovanni Batista Nassalli Rocca di Corneiliano wrote in his Pastoral Letters on Lent“the sentence ‘The evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls’ has a historical explanation that was many times repeated by his private secretary, Monsignor Rinaldo Angeli. Leo XIII truly saw, in a vision, demonic spirits who were congregating on the Eternal City (Rome). The prayer that he asked all the Church to recite was the fruit of that experience. He would recite that prayer with strong, powerful voice: we heard it many a time in the Vatican Basilica. Leo XIII also personally wrote an exorcism that is included in the Roman Ritual. He recommended that bishops and priests read these exorcisms often in their dioceses and parishes. He himself would recite them often throughout the day.”

The Prayer written by the Pope is of course the famous prayer to Saint Michael:

Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio;
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis,
satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute in infernum detrude.

This is the version I learned as a boy:

Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in the battle.  Be our protection against the malice and snares of the Devil.  We humbly beseech God to command him.  And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the powers of God, cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

In 1886 this prayer was added to the prayers that in 1884 Pope Leo had ordered to be said after every low Mass.  In 1964, by Inter oecumenici, the Payer to Saint Michael, along with the other Leonine Prayers after low Masses, were suppressed.  I have always thought that a great pity.  Rest assured that Satan did not cease his activity in 1964, and Pope Leo sought to remind us of that activity and through the prayer to Saint Michael to help guard us against it.   It is still a common prayer in my house.

25 Responses to Pope Leo and Saint Michael the Archangel

  1. Ellen says:

    A few weeks ago, Father Wade asked us to offer an extra prayer or do some more spiritual reading during Ordinary Time. For some time, I had been feeling urges to pray the Leonine Prayers and Father’s request sealed the deal. I pray them now every day sometimes more than once a day. I think we need them.

  2. It is a common prayer in my house, too.

    My boy loves to say it in Latin, loves the sound of it – he says it has sounds to scare the devil.

    God bless PBXVI and God prosper the reform of the reform!

    ex oribus infantium…

  3. Pinky says:

    I’ve said the prayer at the Traditional Latin Mass, but I didn’t know the background of it. Fascinating.

  4. Tapestry says:

    I was taught:
    St Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
    Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray and thou O Prince of the Heavenly Host by the power of God, cast into Hell Satan, all the other evil spirits; who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
    Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.(3times)

    I have said it every morning for years, with the ending of the regular Mass, as per V2, a lot of things was omitted that should have stayed.

    That doesn’t stop us from saying this prayer daily I sometimes think its the one prayer that keeps chaos from overtaking the world.

  5. Pepito says:

    Yes, this is a great story. And a good soundtrack.

    If you want to see Pope Leo XIII in a video as well, there is a great one from 1896:

    By the way, in 1994 Pope John Paul II recommended to pray this prayer to St Michael the Archangel from Pope Leo XIII: “Though this prayer is no longer prayed at the end of the eucharistic celebration, I invite you all to not forget it, and to pray it, to obtain help in the bttle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of the world.”

    Of course the prayer is always included after all Masses in Latin.

  6. Markus says:

    God used Pope Leo to make true the prophecy of St.Michael in Daniel and Revelation.

    C calling
    A all
    T to
    H holy
    O obedient
    L life
    I in

  7. warthpublishinginc says:

    Why was this prayer removed? Was it the influence of Satan?

  8. R.C. says:


    So not every parish does this at the end of Mass every Sunday? (Or at least most Sundays?)

    I have limited experience with different parishes, but the parish where I attend in the Atlanta area does this prayer after nearly every Mass. (I say nearly every because I think I remember a couple of occasions when the prayer was not included. But my memory is vague on it; it may have been when we were between pastors, and therefore had a lot of Masses being done by visiting celebrants.)

  9. Don says:

    After each mass I attend, I pray the “Prayers after low mass” (Three hail Marys, the Hail Holy Queen, O God our refuge…, the St. Michael Prayer, and Most Sacred heart of Jesus… Just because it’s not required doesn’t mean we can no longer use it. I encourage everyone to take two-and-a-half minutes and say these prayers privately for the return of reverence to our Church, and the conversion of Russia.

  10. Karen says:

    Our parish is publicly praying the St. Michael Prayer at the end of our daily Masses for the Protection and Defense of the Unborn. Any parish can pray the St. Michael publicly at the end of daily Mass for any intention all you need to do is ask your pastor for permission to do it. He can not lead it but a parishioner can lead the prayer at the end of the closing song at daily mass pray.

  11. R.C. says:


    Whoa! The pastor “may not lead it?”

    Now that I think of it, it’s always the deacon who leads off whenever it’s done at my parish. I guess that’s why.

    I wonder why it’s okay for the deacon, not the priest?

  12. TeaPot562 says:

    Practic in the Diocese of Orange (Calif,) varies from parish to parish. Some say the St. Michael prayer after most masses, usually led by the presider; some do not.
    If the Mass includes congregational singing (most Sunday & Holy Day masses), the St. Michael prayer does not get said by the congregation (although nothing prevents individuals from praying it.)

  13. mrteachersir says:


    The Mass ends with “Ita Missa est”. Therefore, the priest can lead the prayers, for Mass is over. In fact, in my parish, daily Mass ends with the priest and congregation reciting the prayer together, facing the altar.

    I just visited a parish that did the same thing after a Sunday Mass.

  14. […] Pope Leo and Saint Michael the Archangel In 1947 Father Domenico Pechenino related what he had witnessed over six decades before. “I do not remember the […] […]

  15. Moe says:

    Pope Leo XIII carried a flask on his person containing Vin Mariani, a wine that was 10 percent alcohol and laced with 8.5 percent cocaine. In fact, Pope Leo XIII enjoyed the wine so much that he awarded a gold medal to Mariani for being a “benefactor of humanity.” Cocaine is known to induce terrifying hallucinations. Just sayin’.

  16. Allan Wafkowski says:

    I go to a Latin Mass parish run by the Fraternity of St. Peter and the prayer is said after each Mass with the exception of a High Mass.

    RE: Moe, that is an odd “fact” I’ve never heard before.

  17. Susanne says:

    Moe, where did you get this information? I just love how people make accusations out of the blue with no reference to where they dug them up.

  18. Fr. Michael says:

    At the request of several parishioners, we began, on the First Sunday of Advent 2008, reciting the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel after the close of every Mass. I usually start the prayer after I kiss the altar at the conclusion of daily Mass and after the last note of the recessional hymn at the end of Sunday Mass. Presently, during the Year for Priests, we have in the pews 2-by-3-inch sheets of paper with a prayer for priests (prayed before the conclusion of the General Intercessions) on one side and the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel on the other side. We plan to have nice lamented cards of the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel in place for post-Year for Priests use.

  19. Fr. Michael says:

    That should LAMINATED cards. The cards, with the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, should not be LAMENTED. LOL

  20. Moe says:

    Allan and Susanne,
    Apparently, His Holiness didn’t get a kick from champagne, and mere alcohol didn’t thrill him at all, but a little Charlie in his Vin Mariani did the trick! Seriously, my previous post was ill-advised, so please accept my apologies. It really wasn’t my intention to malign Pope Leo XIII. I recite Prayer to St. Michael every morning before I enter the battleground.

  21. justin says:

    i try to say this prayer every day. never have we needed it so much. people should also look up the chaplet of saint michael the archangel. our church is being truly rocked by scandal. in my church it’s not said i will make an effort to say it myself after each mass from now on.

  22. Christine says:

    I also say this prayer to Saint Michael.
    It is also a prayer in my rosary leaflet as one of the optional prayers to say after the Holy Rosary. The other optional prayer is;

    ‘The Memorare’
    Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was is known thay any one who fled to Thy protection,
    implored Thy help or sort Thy intercession, was left unaided.
    Inspired by this confidence, we fly unto Thee, O Virgin of virgins my Mother;
    to Thee do we come, before Thee we stand, sinful and sorrowful;
    O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in Thy clemency hear and answer me. Amen’

  23. Christine says:

    ‘The Memorare’
    Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who fled to Thy protection,
    implored Thy help or sort Thy intercession, was left unaided.
    Inspired by this confidence, we fly unto Thee, O Virgin of virgins my Mother;
    to Thee do we come, before Thee we stand, sinful and sorrowful;
    O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in Thy clemency hear and answer me. Amen’

    (amended version as some spelling error)

  24. Joshua says:

    As a fellow Catholic, I must ask all of you whether you agree with this observation: According to those things defined as “sin” by Church doctrine, are we not in a time where the occassion of sin attacks each of us ceaselessly? Television, radio, internet and print vomit out images and sounds of sexual immorality, violence, hatred, drug abuse, abusive language, and most offensively to me, the cursing of the name of God. In our schools, people are using science to destroy the faith of children…do you remember what the gospels say about making a little one lose faith? We are in more need than at any other time in our history for intercessory relief from the Sainted Archangel Michael. Please, please remember to beg Jesus for absolution and mercy, but also please pray to the Heart of Divine Mercy for expiation of souls in purgatory for a few minutes at 3 p.m. to commemorate the scarifice made for our sins by our most loving father, Jesus Christ.

  25. Karen says:

    I just wanted to comment on my ealier post that a Pastor can not lead the St. Michael Prayer at the end of Mass. I said that because my Pastor said that his understanding of the rubrics is that he can not lead it and so has a parishioner do it.

    Maybe it is because he remains by the Presidental chair after the dismissal for the congregation to recite the prayer and then at the end of prayer he steps down to process out of the church during the closing song.

    I will let him know that he can lead it after the dismissal.

%d bloggers like this: