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Calling on the Angels in Latin

The next rose in the Latin series focuses on Learning the two most common prayers addressed to angels in Latin – the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, and the prayer to one’s guardian angel.

Faith FormationLearning Basic Prayers to Angels in Latin
ObjectiveLearn the prayers in question well enough to say each one 5 times consecutively without mistakes, three days in a row
Seedtime10-15 minutes reading blog/watching videos
Feedtime+/- 1 hour learning, practising and testing memorisation of the prayers
DirectiveLearn the prayers! Text, videos and further directions are given below…
To check out how these boxes work, click here!

The Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

  1. The text

Sáncte Míchael Archángele,
defénde nos in proélio,
cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli
ésto præsídium.
Ímperet ílli Déus, súpplices deprecámur:
tuque, prínceps milítiæ cæléstis,
(1) Sátanam aliósque spíritus malígnos,
(2) qui ad perditiónem animárum
(3) pervagántur in múndo,
(4) divína virtúte, in inférnum detrúde.

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,
(4) by the power of God, thrust into hell
(1) satan and all the evil spirits
(3) who prowl about the world
(2) seeking the ruin of souls.

2. Some videos:

3. The aim, notes and some tips:

  • The aim is to be confident that you know the prayer by memory. As a guideline to test this, you may count the rose as complete when you can recite the prayer three times in a row from memory, without mistakes or hesitations, for three consecutive days (that is three recitations on each day). As you can’t very well read to check as you recite, it may be a good idea to ask someone else to listen and call you up on mistakes, or to record yourself and check back over it after.
  • Whilst the translation above is pretty literal, the order of words and phrases differs somewhat in between the Latin and English translations. The first example is that the third and fourth lines as the prayers are written above (be our protection – against the wickedness and snares of the devil) need to be reversed to match. In the second half of the prayer the differences are a little more complicated, so the lines are numbered to show how to match up the words with their meaning.
  • The videos have different pronuntiation! Take your pick, there are no penalties for which version you learn. And no harm to be familiar with both. Of the two chanted videos the first is more Germanic and the second more Italian. You can hear the difference in certain ‘c’ and ‘g’ usages. In most English speaking countries I think people tend to side with the Italian version, as does the spoken video above.

The Prayer to One’s Guardian Angel

  1. The text

Ángele Dei,
qui custos es mei,
me, tibi commíssum
pietáte supérna,
illúmina, custódi,
rege et gubérna. Amen.

O Angel of God,
who art my guardian,
to whose care I have been entrusted
by heavenly piety*
shed light upon me, watch over me,
rule/direct and govern me. Amen.

2. Some videos:

I don’t know if Gabriel’s Oboe is actually going to help you learn the prayer to be honest… but you gotta love it!

3. The aim, notes and tips:

  • The aim, as above, is to learn the prayer – the litmus test being the ability to recite it, without reading and without mistakes or hesitations, three times in a row for three consecutive days.
  • You may notice that the English prayer given above is not quite the one you are used to reciting – ‘O Angel of God, my Guardian dear…’. In this case, the common translation is a little less literal as far taking the text the word for word (as opposed to communicating the sense in general) goes. This may confuse the meaning of the Latin words somewhat. For this reason, we have opted to give a more literal translation for the purposes of the rose.
  • In the videos on the left, you may note different pronunciations of the ‘g’ in ‘Angele’ and ‘rege’. The story is much the same as the varying pronunciation in the St. Michael versions. The version in the lower video (g sounding much like it does in the name Angela) is the Italian one, more common in English speaking countries, but for the purpose of the rose you are free to take your pick.
  • This bullet point got a bit rambly, so I’m preceding it with a note to say it it speculative on my part and NONE of this information is necessary for the rose, take or leave it 😉
    A note on ‘me, tibi commissum pietate superna’ – so in the common version of the prayer we say ‘To whom God’s Love commits me here’. Pietate implies a few things and translating it directly into piety (as above), whilst it may be a bit more ‘word for word’ than the typical translation, perhaps isn’t the most helpful for understanding. Pietas in a Roman context is a quality that denotes a kind of ordered and dutiful love that incorporates relationships in the spheres of worship, patriotism and family… We do get the English word piety from it, but in Latin the scope and importance of the word tends to carry a greater significance than our general understanding of piety, especially according to 21st Century usage. Linguistically it may be a little ambiguous as to whether the quality here pertains to the Heavenly commission of the Angel or the illumination of the one praying – but since the standard approved devotional translation evidently sides with the former interpretation it seems to makes sense to stick with that. Thus the sentence would indicate that the angel has been assigned from above the task to be guardian of the person, and this by the inherently ordered, loving and wise decree of Heaven. According to my best understanding.

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