During the Easter Season, which runs from Holy Saturday to the Sunday following Pentecost (Trinity Sunday), the Regina Caeli is one of the four seasonal antiphons that should be chanted or recited to the Blessed Virgin Mary after night prayer, also known as vespers or compline, in the Liturgy of the Hours. It is also the prayer that should be chanted or recited in place of the Angelus during the same season.
The authorship of the Regina Caeli is not fully known, although there are a couple different traditions that surround the prayer. Some believe that Pope St. Gregory the Great had a part in the composition of the prayer. In the late 6th century, a great plague hit the city of Rome. In order to combat this epidemic, St. Gregory the Great asked that a procession of prayer be organized. Beginning at the Church of Ara Coeli (now the Basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli), the Holy Father, along with his clergy, began the prayerful procession through the streets of Rome, which would conclude at St. Peter’s Basilica. As he walked the streets, he carried what is said to be the traditional icon that was written by St. Luke the Evangelist of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
As Gregory approached St. Peter’s, he and his clergy walked by the Castle of Hadrian. It was there he heard the most beautiful angelic voices singing. The amazed Pope replied, “Ora pro nobis Deum. Alleluia!” Instantly an angel appeared and quickly wiped out the drastic disease that plagued Rome. To bring honor to this supernatural event, Pope St. Gregory the Great changed Hadrian’s Castle to the Castel of Sant’Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel). The words were also written on the roof of the Church of Ara Coeli.
Some claim the writing of the Regina Caeli is given to Pope Gregory V, who is said to have written the prayer in the late 10th century, however, there isn’t much evidence to support this claim. The stronger of the two traditions most definitely is with Pope St. Gregory the Great, who is attributed to writing part of the prayer. The actual prayer itself is believed to have been composed between the ninth and twelfth centuries. According to Franciscan heritages, it was being recited in the late twelfth century and early thirteenth century. It was later added to a variety of chant manuscripts.
In the year 1742, Pope Benedict XIV professed that the Regina Caeli was to be prayed in place of the Angelus during the Easter Season when the bells were rung.
It’s a beautiful and simple request to the Blessed Virgin as our Queen who can intercede and pray for us. Because Jesus Christ has risen, she is a rejoicing with joy. The Season of Lent has concluded and it’s time to sing with Our Lady, pray with her, and know that we now have been given life over death through the Resurrection.
Queen of Heave, rejoice, alleluia.The Son whom you merited to bear, alleluia, has risen as he said, alleluia. Pray for us to God, alleluia. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia! For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia!
Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia, quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia, resurrexit sicut dixi, alleluia, ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
“Marian Antiphons.” Marian Antiphons. University of Dayton, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.
“Regina Caeli.” Regina Caeli. Treasury of Latin Prayers, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.