After receiving a terrifying vision in 1884 of the diabolical forces ready to be unleashed upon the world, Pope Leo XIII penned the prayer to St. Michael and ordered it to be said after all low (not sung) Masses in the Latin rite. The St. Michael prayer was part of what was called the Leonine prayers. These were sidelined by the liturgical revolution in the sixties.
In 1994, Pope St. John Paul II took notice of this lapse and asked that the prayer again be recited. On April 28 of that year after his Angelus blessing in the Vatican John Paul II said:
Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid recollection of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to St. Michael throughout the Church. 'St. Michael the Archangel defend us in battle, be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.' Although today this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.
The St. Michael prayer, composed by Pope Leo XIII on October 13, 1884, which was exactly 33 years before the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, reads:
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 other evil spirits, who prowl throughout the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Roughly 10 years after this prayer was no longer recited in each parish after Mass, Blessed Pope Paul VI would acknowledge the victories that Satan and his forces were having over the Church. In a June 29, 1972 homily, Paul VI would warned:
[F]rom some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God. There is doubt, incertitude, problematic [sic], disquiet, dissatisfaction, confrontation. There is no longer trust of the Church; they trust the first profane prophet who speaks in some journal or some social movement, and they run after him and ask him if he has the formula of true life. And we are not alert to the fact that we are already the owners and masters of the formula of true life. Doubt has entered our consciences, and it entered by windows that should have been open to the light. Science exists to give us truths that do not separate from God, but make us seek him all the more and celebrate him with greater intensity; instead, science gives us criticism and doubt.
Saint Michael, pray for us!
Watch the panel discuss the important role this great angel has in The Download—Apparition of St. Michael.