The most extraordinary and staggering conflict that ever took place happened not between men, but in the heavens, before the dawn of man on earth. Sacred Scripture gives us this history in Revelation 12:7-9:
“Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it.”
[St. Michael artwork- with link to PS product page]
This heavenly battle was not the end of angelic or spiritual warfare. It was only the beginning. The archangels and our angelic protectors constantly behold the Beatific Vision while defending and guarding the world and mankind from evil. They also inspire, communicate, heal, and lead us to God in heaven.
At the front of the battle lines, leading this charge, is the glorious St. Michael. One of the most powerful ways to invoke his powerful protection is through the St. Michael Prayer:
Saint Michael the 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 throughout the world, seeking the ruin of souls.
The St. Michael Prayer: Not Just for Individuals, But for the Church
Many Catholics recite the St. Michael Prayer privately, either as an individual invocation to ward off personal temptation or general evil or at the end of the Rosary. However, the prayer was originally written as a petition of protection for the whole Church.
Historical information varies as to the exact year and even the details surrounding the origin of the prayer. We do know that around 1885, in a mystical vision received after saying Mass in his private chapel, Pope Leo XIII saw and heard the devil planning a terrifying attack against the Church; he understood, it seems, that evil would infiltrate it.
Regardless of the details of this account, we know that Pope Leo composed the Prayer to St. Michael in response. He decreed that all priests recite this prayer with the faithful after every low mass for the protection of the Church and mankind. It was also used in exorcisms to invoke the protection of St. Michael.
Devotion to St. Michael was, and is, ancient and widespread. Pope Leo’s prayer to him continued to gain momentum throughout the Church. Eventually the “prayer after Mass” was discontinued in 1964 after the introduction of the New Rite. In 1994, Pope St. John Paul II exhorted the faithful to not forget this prayer.
In response, many parishes have brought back the tradition of asking for St. Michael’s intercession at the close of Mass, after the Final Prayer. As we look at the state of the Church at this moment—and the various attacks that batter it from without and from within— it seems that now is a crucial time to bring this prayer back into our parish communities.
What could be more powerful than a chorus of ardent prayers from the faithful, who have just been strengthened by the Word and nourished by the Eucharist, coming from every corner of the earth at every hour of the day—pleading for St. Michael to defend all the faithful and the Church, which has survived the crashing waves of more than two millennia?
In order to promote this devotion in parishes, we offer bulk copies of the St. Michael Prayer card that you can distribute to your parish at a very low price. The faithful recitation of this prayer has the potential to help bring great graces to our parishes and the Church at large.
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle...and defend our Church!
*Parishes may reprint this article in part or in full, solely for use in parish bulletins and websites, with proper attribution. Please include the original article title, author, and a link to the original article at Parish Store (www.parishstore.com/blog/st-michael-defend-our-church)
This article has been adapted from “The Battle Cry of St. Michael the Archangel” by Cheryl Hadley, which was originally published at The Catholic Company Magazine blog in 2019. All rights reserved.