The prayer of St. Michael was a wonderful end to the Low Mass Liturgy prior to the liturgical changes brought about in 1965. The prayer was written by Pope Leo XIII after he is alleged to have received a prophetic vision. The common version of this vision is that Pope Leo XIII witnessed a debate between Our Blessed Lord and Satan. According to the story, during the debate/conversation, the Devil was granted somewhat free reign for a period of 100 years. The most repeated account of the events behind the prophecy of Pope Leo was as follows:
On October 13, 1884, after Pope Leo XIII had finished celebrating Mass in the 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 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, boasting 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.”
The first, known version of the story was said to have been in print around 1933 in a German newspaper. It may have come into more public knowledge having been spread by word among the Vatican staff and other religious who were with the Pope at this time. It has not been definitely ascertained how it could be traced back to the original source.
A German writer, Fr. Bers, researched the origins of the prophecy in 1933. Failing to find solid evidence of the original source, he felt the prophecy could be an invention. Yet the story continued.
Thirteen years later, after Fr. Bers failed attempt, Fr. Domenico Pechenio, a priest who worked at the Vatican offices during the time of Pope Leo XIII, came forward with a first-hand accounting of the events.
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 color 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.”
(Fr. Domenico Pechenino, quoted in the 1955 Roman journal Ephemerides Liturgicae V. LXIX, pp 54–60)
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,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
The world seems to be a culminating into a lot of the prophecy associated with that talk between God and Satan. A look around tells anyone with common sense and a sense of the wave of terror and evil flowing quickly into the world should give us a sense of warning. However, we have been told again and again, that only God knows the time and the place for the end of time, the Second Coming, the destruction of the world, etc. As bad as things are, it could be a very grave and serious warning to each of us to realize that our personal ‘end of the world’ would more likely come before the End of the World. Probably not a good idea to put off more serious prayers and acts of reparation until we get a more definite state from Heaven.
It is also sad that the changes in 1965 removed the Saint Michael’s Prayer from the completion of the Low Mass, too. Why would such a powerful prayer be removed from daily, public prayer? When I noticed the upcoming date, this morning, it reminded me of the time frame God allowed Satan and how much bad and evil has been accomplished in the last century.