I was looking up exorcism stuff on the Vatican website and stumbled across this from (then) Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI)

From these prescriptions it follows that it is not even licit that the faithful use the formula of exorcism against Satan and the fallen angels, extracted from the one published by order of the Supreme Pontiff Leo XIII, and even less that they use the integral text of this exorcism. Bishops should take care to warn the faithful, if necessary, of this.

Letter to Ordinaries regarding norms on Exorcism

So does that mean that the St. Michael Prayer:

Glorious St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil, 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 Earth seeking the ruin of souls. Amen

I learned by heart this prayer some 15 years ago and say every time the creepy crawlies pound on my windows at 3 AM is verboten?

3 Answers 3


The faithful may recite the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel freely.

The prohibition from Pope Leo XIII is against the faithful’s use of the rite of exorcism—in other words, the pope is prohibiting the faithful from attempting an exorcism themselves, as only a priest or bishop may do this.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1673, explains,

The solemn exorcism, called “a major exorcism,” can be performed only by a priest [evidently, a bishop may perform it as well] and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church [emphasis added].

The Prayer to St. Michael, on the other hand, is a popular devotional prayer (at one time recited as a part of the so-called “low Mass”), which is never a problem to recite. (It is never a problem for people to ask for the intercession of the saints in protecting them from the influence of Satan.)

The similarity of the Prayer of St. Michael to the rite of solemn exorcism in use at the time does not itself make the devotional prayer illicit. In fact John Paul II recommended its popular use at least once in a 1994 Regina Coeli address.

  • 1
    OK, I thought that the "formula" in reference here was the St. Michael prayer (which I'm pretty sure was either written or just promoted by Pope Leo XIII)
    – Peter Turner
    Mar 19, 2017 at 15:57
  • @PeterTurner I added one or two details, in case you are interested. Mar 19, 2017 at 20:46

The safe understanding of the warning is to not put yourself on risk. You can read in the web articles by priests with experience on the exorcism ritual. It is extremely risky and should be excersided only by a trained priest.

But Cardinal Ratzinger recomendation does not mean that you can not ask God's protection. The Our Father says "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil".

Taken from The Our Father Prayer.


TAre Catholics not supposed to pray the St. Michael Prayer?

We recite this prayer after mass as a parish every Sunday!

The Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel is now a staple of liturgies in many parishes, often recited at the end of Mass or immediately after. The prayer, invoked in various forms from 1886 to 1965, was shelved as part of the Mass after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. - St. Michael the Archangel is back. (Or at least his prayer is.)

It is only forbidden for the laity to recite it, when actually associated with solemn exorcisms which can only be said by certain qualified Catholic priests.

Not only do I pray this beautiful prayer often. There is no interdiction to its use unless it is associated with a major exorcism which can then only be recited by an exorcist and then only with the permission of the local ordinary (bishop).

In my parish, we recite this prayer after each Sunday mass together as a congregation.

In the Roman Catholic Church, only a priest or higher rank prelate may perform a solemn (Major) exorcisms over a possessed person. A priest may only perform an exorcism over a possessed person with the permission of the local ordinary or bishop. This permission may be on a case by case necessity or may be general as was the case in the life of St John Vianney.

Not all exorcisms involve a possessed person and an exorcist is often aided by members of the community during an exorcism. And there is the fact that there are different types of exorcisms which the laity may freely pray.

One can read the rules involved in performing a Major Exorcism here. Rule 19, for example states:

While performing the exorcism over a woman, he ought always have to assisting him several women of good repute, who will hold on to the person when she is harassed by the evil spirit. These assistants ought if possible be close relatives of the subject, and for the sake of decency the exorcist should avoid saying or doing anything that might prove to an occasion of evil thoughts to himself or others.

What types of exorcisms are there in the Latin Rite?

Major Exorcisms

Major Exorcism only applies when there is sound evidence that a person is possessed (Latin obsessis, Italian ossessa, Spanish obsesa).

Only a priest specifically appointed by the Diocesan Bishop (as a general exorcist or to minister to a specific person) may carry out the Rite of Major Exorcism.

Minor Exorcisms

The only minor exorcisms specifically published by the Church are those for children and adults preparing for baptism. These may be celebrated by deacons and priests, and also by catechists in dioceses where the bishop has specifically mandated them to do so. Clerics, but not lay catechists, may also use the Oil of Catechumens in the manner set down in the ritual books.


Following the implicit logic of Summorum Pontificum, all priests in good standing have the ability to use the Extraordinary Form rites of blessing and exorcising salt, oil and water. These sacramentals may be given to the faithful for their own private use.

The medal of St Benedict is an important sacramental, the use of which expresses faith in Christ’s protection from the Enemy.

Places and Things

Where there is prudent reason to believe that a place or a thing is under demonic influence, a priest may seek permission from the local Bishop to perform Appendix I of the1999 Rite. Alternatively, (following the implicit logic of Summorum Pontificum), if he has his bishop’s general permission to make use of the Exorcismus in Satanam et Angelos Apostaticos, he may do so without needing to seek explicit permission for the particular case.

It should not be forgotten that simpler remedies – such as blessing the place with holy water (perhaps exorcised using the older Roman Ritual) – or celebrating Mass in the place – may have a powerful effect without needing to have recourse to the Rite of Exorcism. The inhabitants of a place may, of course, make free use of the Appendix II prayers privately. - Exorcism and Prayers for Deliverance: The Position of the Catholic Church

Pope Leo XIII has given permission to use a simple exorcism that may be used by the laity "whenever the action of the devil is suspected, causing malice in men, violent temptations and even storms and various calamities."

Prayer of Exorcism by Pope Leo XIII

A beautiful prayer (a minor exorcism) that anyone can pray to ask Our Lord to drive the lingering influence of Satan away from a place. Recommended by His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke for use by the laity, August 2, 2014. - EXORCISM OF SATAN AND THE FALLEN ANGELS

Years ago the Simple Exorcism for Priests or Laity by Pope Leo XIII was published in a little flyer form which was available in many parish churches. I am still in possession of a few of these copies and have been unable to find more in the last few years. This exorcism and prayer to St. Michael is intended to curb the influence of the devil in places or things. The following website shows exactly what was is on the flyers that I have.

Prayer Against Satan and the Rebellious Angels

Published by Order of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII

The following is a simple exorcism prayer that can be said by priests or laity. The term “exorcism” does NOT always denote a solemn exorcism involving a person possessed by the devil. In general, the term denotes prayers to “curb the power of the devil and prevent him from doing harm.” As St. Peter had written in Holy Scripture, “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.” (1 St. Peter 5,8)

The Holy Father exhorts priests to say this prayer as often as possible, as a simple exorcism to curb the power of the devil and prevent him from doing harm. The faithful also may say it in their own name, for the same purpose, as any approved prayer. Its use is recommended whenever action of the devil is suspected, causing malice in men, violent temptations and even storms and various calamities. It could be used as a solemn exorcism (an official and public ceremony, in Latin), to expel the devil. It would then be said by a priest, in the name of the Church and only with a Bishop's permission.

For the actual text of this simple exorcism see this.

  • I appreciate your faith and steadfastness, but really wouldn't recommend recommending that someone who is not a priest says that kind of prayer. It's a risk. If you're willing to take that risk, then you should probably be a priest! Unless you like doing your own brain surgery, best leave the rebuking and driving away to the professionals!
    – elemtilas
    Oct 27, 2021 at 16:47
  • @elemtilas The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops back me up: When would the rites contained in the appendices be used, and by whom? The prayers and invocations that comprise Appendix II ("Supplications which May be Used by the Faithful Privately in their Struggle against the Powers of Darkness") are intended for general the use of the clergy and of the lay faithful in combatting the temptations of sin or spiritual attacks by the devil.
    – Ken Graham
    Nov 4, 2021 at 15:49
  • That's as may be. Doing something like that is akin to picking up a cracker and saying "...this is my body..." --- it's a kind of usurpation of the office of sacramental priest. With the best of intentions, I am sure! I'm just cautioning against recommending such practices.
    – elemtilas
    Nov 5, 2021 at 0:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .