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Michaelmas – The Feast of St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael Statue, Kiev, Ukraine

I have a special affinity for St. Michael the Archangel. As a young man, I found his commission to battle the forces of evil so appealing that I chose him as my confirmation saint. I have always taken recourse to the St. Michael prayer in times of difficulty and spiritual combat, and for those reasons, St. Michael is one of the stated patrons of OnePeterFive.

Today is St. Michael’s feast day. Traditionally known as “Michaelmas,” during the middle ages the Church considered the feast so important that it was a holy day of obligation.

Though its stature as a feast has diminished over time, there has arguably never been a better or more important time to seek the patronage of the Prince of the Heavenly Host.

For those unfamiliar with the origin of the St. Michael Prayer, it’s a story worth knowing:

One day, after celebrating Mass, the aged Pope Leo XIII was in conference with the Cardinals when suddenly he sank to the floor in a deep swoon. Physicians who hastened to his side could find no trace of his pulse and feared that he had expired. However, after a short interval the Holy Father regained consciousness and exclaimed with great emotion: “Oh, what a horrible picture I have been permitted to see!”

He had been shown a vision of evil spirits who had been released from Hell and their efforts to destroy the Church. But in the midst of the horror the archangel St. Michael appeared and cast Satan and his legions into the abyss of hell. Soon afterwards Pope Leo XIII composed a prayer to St. Michael, imploring his protection for the Church.

Many are familiar with the short form of this prayer, which used to be recited at the foot of the altar after low Masses prior to the post-Vatican II changes to the Mass. It is commonly recited after the rosary and at following Extraordinary Form Masses.

There is also a longer form of the prayer which is most commonly used for exorcisms.

Both forms of the prayer are provided in Latin and English.

I encourage you to pray for his protection daily. If you are a parish priest, please consider reinstating this practice by leading your people in the prayer to St. Michael at the conclusion of every Mass.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!

St. Michael the Archangel, ora pro nobis!

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