Could He Have Known?

Posted by Elizabeth Russell on

Pope Leo and the St. Michael Prayer

He was blissfully unaware of the impending spiritual disasters coming to his beloved church...

A man of prominent features; with a large, three-mountained nose, high white forehead, wide, smiling mouth, and small eyes that held in them the kindness of the world. As he knelt in prayer after his private, devout mass, this old man with hair curling about the ears was blissfully unaware of the impending spiritual disasters lurking just out of sight, prowling right around the corner, of his beloved church. 

He knew, of course, most painfully, the evils of protestantism and the chasm of divide between christians, which this diminishing of the true faith had brought about… but by now, it was a thing of cemented reality. After all, Protestantism had been around for nearly 400 years, and what harm had it done to the true faith in the interim? The truly faithful, according to this humble Pope’s assessment, had grown cemented in their faith - most of the Christian world was still Catholic: Spain, Italy, Mexico, South America, even France had come back to the Church… at least that was something good to have come from that man Napoleon’s lustful reign. 

No, he could have no idea at all the nature of the looming threat to the 20th century - by no human intuition could he have fathomed the immense and radical need for a cry to a long neglected saint. And so, it was by supernatural means that God informed his servant of the impending danger.

“I can destroy your church.”

Quite suddenly, as he knelt in prayer, the aged pope went quite stiff - white, and with a fearful expression on his usually cheerful face, the pope stared stock-still into nothingness. It shocked his secretary and the other priests present, but it shocked his Holiness far more. For, from a place beside the Tabernacle, he heard these words in a harsh, grating, sinister voice:

“I can destroy your church.”

Another voice: quieter, indescribable, and sure of itself: “Then do so.”

“Well, of course I will need more time, 75 to a 100 years, and greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service.”

The quiet voice was final. “You have it. Do with it what you will.”

The voices departed, and in great trembling, the old man rose and rushed to his office. This was no time to explain, no time to consult - this was a time for action. His Church, his beloved, innocent church, was about to be attacked as it had never been before, attacked like Job in the Bible, and he, like a good father, must pass on the tools it needed to defend itself… 

He heard again the words in his ears: “I need more time… greater power…”, and he grasped a trembling ray of hope.

Right there the dark voice showed his weakness! To accomplish his work of salvation, God does not need time, and he does not need the acceptance of his creatures. He wills to work within both, but uses them not. The old man prayed, “on earth… as it is in Heaven…”

“The huge dragon… was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it.”

He needed to cry to a heavenly warrior for aid - someone who could pit himself against the enemy and cast him into hell!...

“Then war broke out in heaven…” The words of Revelation, chapter 12, rose with sudden clarity into his mind. “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.”

“Come, St. Michael!” cried the old man in his mind, seizing a piece of paper and pen. “On earth as it is in heaven, defend us in battle. Cast into hell Satan and all his wicked servants!”


As he sat there furiously writing, he did not know the nature of the evils that would soon unleash themselves upon the world. Mary had not appeared yet to warn her children of these days: contraception was an unthinkable future, divorce only existed for protestants, and annulments for the rich and greedy. Premarital and homosexual sex were mortal sins, clearly and strictly forbidden by the church. Few were seriously tempted to them, and fewer who did not repent immediately afterward.

Armored with A Protector

Had he to predict how Satan would destroy the Church, perhaps the kind old man would have thought of violence: physical attacks against her hierarchy, her location, her figureheads… but the absolute collapse of morality? Unthinkable.

But it mattered not how Satan would attack the Church. Such was not his to know. Only that he would, and thus came into the world the beautiful prayer of St. Michael the Archangel, written by Pope Leo XIII in 1885. And thus were we armored with a protector, so that now, 135 years later, our Church still stands, and our God is still victorious! With St. Michael, let us continue to fight the good fight.

NOTE : The following St. Michael’s Prayer is the original version as written by Pope Leo XIII.  It is taken from they printed from The Raccolta, twelfth edition, published by Burnes, Oates & Washbourne Ltd,  publishers to the Holy See, London, 1935. It was originally published in the Roman Raccolta of July 23, 1898, and a supplement approved July 31, 1902:

Prayer to St Michael the Archangel (Long Version)

O Glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, and spirits of evil.

Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist Thee, nor was there place for them any longer in heaven. That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan, who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels.

Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men; his depraved mind, corrupt heart, his spirit of

lying, impiety, blasphemy, his pestilential breath of impurity and of every vice and iniquity. These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the Spouse of the

Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.

Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate Thee as their protector and patron; in Thee Holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious power of hell; to

Thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent who is the devil and Satan, do Thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.

  1. Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered, hostile powers.
  2. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered, the root of David.
  3. Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord
  4. As we have hoped in Thee.
  5. O Lord, hear my prayer.
  6. And let my cry come unto Thee


God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy name, and we humbly implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin Immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel St. Michael, Thou wouldst deign to help us

against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of souls.


Pope Leo XIII, 1888

Raccolta 1933 (Partial Indulgence)

Short Version:

St. 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, Oh Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all his evil spirits, who prowl throughout the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Let us entrust ourselves and our families to St. Michael, the great defender of heaven!

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