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PRAY | Defender of souls

Prayer to St. Michael is a special devotion for police officers, soliders — and school children

Statue of St. Michael the Archangel
At the end of every school Mass at Holy Cross Academy’s St. Michael campus, students recite the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. It’s a tradition that started several years ago, and has extended to other Masses at St. Michael.

Pope Leo XIII wrote the prayer in the 1880s, reportedly after seeing a vision of demonic spirits attacking Rome. While there’s been scholarly debate about proof of that happening, the prayer became popular because of St. Michael’s role as a defender against evil. Police officers and soldiers often hold a special devotion to the saint.

But for children at Holy Cross, the prayer has been a way for them to understand the reality of evil in the world and how God is our protector against that, said Father Michael Grosch, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Shrewsbury.

“It can be a little difficult to introduce at first because of the intense language of the prayer,” he said. “But it’s a great opportunity for us to have a conversation that there is such a thing as evil in the world.” The prayer has opened up discussion on evils in the world today, including natural disasters, terrorism and even suicide.

“The prayer is a good reminder that we have a defender in St. Michael — and that is ultimately based in Jesus Christ,” Father Grosch said. “It’s asking for his intercession and prayers and defense against the enemies of Christ.”

St. Michael the Archangel was the leader of God’s army during the uprising of Lucifer and is honored in Christianity as well as Judaism and Islam. Archangels have unique roles as God’s messengers to people at critical times. St. Michael is considered the guardian and protector of the Church. His feast day is observed Sept. 29.

At the end of an Angelus message in 1994, St. John Paul II said that the prayer “can fortify us for that spiritual battle about which the Letter to the Ephesians speaks: 'Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from His mighty power'”(Ephesians 6:10). And to this same battle that the Book of the Apocalypse refers, recalling in front of our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (Revelations 12:7). Surely, this scene was very present to Pope Leo XIII, when, at the end of the previous century, he introduced to the entire Church a special prayer to St. Michael: ‘St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil … ’”

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael 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 through the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen.

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