The Leonine Prayers

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The Leonine Prayers

(To be said publicly after Low Mass
or for private use after any Mass)

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Pope Leo XIII

For eighty years (1885–1965), Catholics throughout the world recited a set of prayers at the end of low Mass, in company with the priest kneeling at the steps of the altar. These prayers were commonly referred to as “Prayers after Mass,” and sometimes as “the Leonine Prayers,” since it was the great Pope Leo XIII who instituted them at the end of the 19th century

In regard to their disappearance, there is too much conflicting speculation to consider the why, but the when occured around 1964/5 after Vatican Council II. These prayers were prescribed only for low Masses of a private or non-solemn character, when no further devotion followed after the Last Gospel. Thus, whenever Mass was sung (whether a Missa cantata or a Solemn High Mass), or a low Mass was said as the principal conventual or parochial liturgy of the day, these prayers were omitted, as they were, too, whenever Mass was followed by Eucharistic Adoration, public recitation of the Rosary or other such devotion.

Today there is a growing sense among Catholics of the fittingness of the Leonine Prayers as a kind of private thanksgiving and petition immediately after the great and august mysteries of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass have been enacted upon the altar, and the fruits of the Mass received in Holy Communion. The custom is especially good as a check against the all-too-frequent tendency to rush out of Mass immediately after the final blessing. Reciting some formal prayers after Mass helps everyone slow down, take a deep breath, and linger in the Presence of the Lord, letting His Eucharist work in our souls, giving Him the chance to speak to us and teach us. When some of the faithful remain behind after Mass and set an example of prayer, it will surely, over time, have a good effect on others, reminding them that what Mass is-for does not “end” with the final prayer and blessing. Only the offering of Mass ends, whereas the offering of self to God, which is both symbolized and enacted in the mysteries of the Mass, is meant to continue at all times. 

(Taken from an Article by Peter A. Kwasniewski, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the International Theological Institute in Gaming, Austria.)


The Leonine Prayers

by Pope Leo XIII

Three Hail Marys

Priest: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

All: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.    (Said 3 times)



Hail, Holy Queen (Salve Regina)

All: Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Priest: Pray for us, O holy Mother of God

All: That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.




Priest: Let us pray.

O God, our refuge and our strength, look down with mercy upon the people who cry to Thee; and by the intercession of the glorious and immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of Saint Joseph her spouse, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, in Thy mercy and goodness hear our prayers for the conversion of sinners, and for the liberty and exaltation of the Holy Mother the Church. Through the same Christ Our Lord.

All: Amen.



Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel

All: 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 throughout the world, seeking the ruin of souls.



Three Invocations to the Sacred Heart

Priest: Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,

All: Have mercy on us!         (Said 3 times)


Longer Version of the
Prayer to Saint Michael

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 hosts, by the power of God, thrust into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world, seeking the ruin of souls.


O glorious Archangel Saint 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, 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 our 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. That wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent 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 powers 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.



Final Considerations

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"By the Power of the Father, Saint Michael and his Heavenly Host in Battle" - by Peter Paul Rubens

lucifer2.gif (31255 bytes)We do not know exactly what Jesus granted to Satan: all we know is that “your enemy the devil goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1Peter 5:8). We would be fools not to invoke heavenly aid against him

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Dragon stalks Woman and Child (symbolic of Holy Mother the Church and Her priests) from the Book of Revelation

Let us daily offer this prayer of Leo XIIIagainst the wickedness and snares of the devil.” The more we pray God to rebuke him, the more he will be rebuked. Saint Michael is granted power over Satan in proportion to the desires of the people of God for the devil’s defeat. If we are lukewarm, Saint Michael's hand is to some extent bound. If we are on fire against the evil one and his servants, Saint Michael’s hand is ever freer to wage war, and his heavenly host more powerful to assist us. Faith is our own weapon; let us use it. Then Michael's heavenly host, for their part, can use their weapons to the fullest. 

We must not underestimate our role as intercessors before God in the battle against the demons. The prayer of Pope Leo XIII itself indicates it. A prayer devoutly raised to God asking for Saint Michael's intervention may be the difference between a soul entangled and lost, and a soul set free and saved. When we think about how the devil pursues priests and religious above all, we should realize how fitting it is to pray this prayer immediately after Mass, praying not only for the faithful in general, but in particular for the priest who offered that very Mass. If, according to the Apocalypse of Saint John, the dragon, the ancient serpent, is in pursuit of the Child and the Woman, will he not be in ceaseless pursuit of every priest and religious who, in their own consecrated states, are the icons in this world of the Woman and her Child?