Many have recited it since they were children, but who is the author?
Over the past century countless children have been taught by their parents, in religious education classes, and in Catholic schools how to pray the “Angel of God” prayer. It is a simple prayer, easily memorized, that invokes the intercession of a person’s guardian angel. The prayer has become a staple of Catholic culture and continues to be passed on to each generation.
For many years it was believed that St. Anselm of Canterbury, a Benedictine monk who lived during the 11th century, was the author of the prayer. However, recent scholars have discovered that the prayer was likely inspired by Reginald of Canterbury, another Benedictine monk who lived at the same time as St. Anselm. Scholars found a prayer in Reginald’s Life of St. Malchus that bears a strong resemblance to the current Angel of God prayer.
In Latin, Reginald’s prayer begins as follows.
Angele, qui meus es custos pietate superna,
me tibi commissum serva, tueare, guberna;
terge meam mentem vitiis et labe veterna
assiduusque comes mihi sis vitaque lucerna.
The Angel of God prayer starts in a similar way in Latin.
Angele Dei, qui custos es mei, Me tibi commissum pietate superna;
(Hodie, Hac nocte) illumina, custodi, rege, et guberna.
It is uncertain if Reginald composed the Angel of God prayer, but it is clear that whoever did had access to Reginald’s Life of St. Malchus.
What this means is that this prayer has a rich history, dating back almost a thousand years. The Church has preserved it over all these years because of its simple yet profound truth. It recognizes the existence of our guardian angels, and invokes their aid in our time of need.
Guardian angels are here to protect us, guide us, and lead us to eternal life. This is not just a “child’s prayer,” but a prayer everyone should say on a daily basis. The prayer recognizes that angels can have an impact on our lives, and are here because of God’s love for us. We simply need to invoke their aid and trust in Jesus’ promise that our “angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).
ANGEL OF GOD,
My guardian dear,
To whom God’s love commits me here;
Ever this (day, night) be at my side,
To light and guard, to rule and guide.
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