Pope Francis has called upon all Catholics to pray the rosary and the prayer to Saint Michael the archangel every day during the month of October to protect the church from the devil.
“The Holy Father has decided to invite all the faithful, of all the world, to pray the Holy Rosary every day, during the entire Marian month of October,” a Vatican communiqué states, “and thus to join in communion and in penitence, as the people of God, in asking the Holy Mother of God and Saint Michael Archangel to protect the Church from the devil, who always seeks to separate us from God and from each other.”
October is traditionally dedicated to the rosary prayer ever since the Feast of the Holy Rosary was established on October 7 by Pope Pius V in 1571 as “Our Lady of Victory” after the Christian forces won a landmark victory over the Muslim armada at the Battle of Lepanto.
On October 7, 1571, a fleet of ships assembled by a coalition of Christian nations fought an intense battle against the forces of the invading Ottoman Empire. The unexpected victory of the so-called “Holy League” radically stemmed efforts by the Turks to control the Mediterranean.
In preparation for this decisive battle, Pope Pius V ordered that the churches of Rome be kept open for prayer day and night and urged the faithful to invoke the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the prayer of the Rosary. On hearing of the Christian victory, the pope established a new feast day in the Roman Liturgical Calendar, which would come to be known as the feast of the Holy Rosary.
Saturday’s Vatican communiqué said that Pope Francis has invited the faithful to conclude the recitation of the Rosary with the ancient invocation “Sub Tuum Praesidium” and with the prayer to Saint Michael the archangel “that he protect us and help us in the struggle against evil.”
Prayer is the weapon “against the Great Accuser who ‘goes around the world seeking to accuse.’ Only prayer can defeat him,” the statement reads. “The Russian mystics and the great saints of all the traditions advised, in moments of spiritual turbulence, to shelter beneath the mantle of the Holy Mother of God pronouncing the invocation ‘Sub Tuum Praesidium.’”
The text of the invocation reads like this, “We fly to Thy protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.”
The pope has asked the faithful to pray “that the Holy Mother of God place the Church beneath her protective mantle: to preserve her from the attacks by the devil, the great accuser.”
The faithful are also to request Mary’s intercession to make the Church’s members “more aware of the faults, the errors and the abuses committed in the present and in the past, and committed to combating without any hesitation, so that evil may not prevail.”
The communiqué also includes the words to the prayer to Saint Michael the archangel, an invocation Pope Leo XIII composed, which Francis has asked be recited every day following the prayer of the Holy Rosary: “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, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.”
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