God’s Chat with the Devil;
The Vision of Pope Leo XIII

devil, demon, satan, evil, temptation

devil, demon, satan, evilFor the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.  — 1 Corinthians 1:22-25


While he was attending Mass in 1884 Pope Leo XIII reportedly had a vision and overheard a conversation between God and the devil, Satan.  The conversation purported to be a request by Satan for the 75 to 100 years he needed in order to destroy the Catholic Church.  God reportedly granted Satan’s request.   The apparition gives us an insight into what purports to be a troubling negotiation between God and the devil—between good and evil—much like the conversation between God and Satan in the Old Testament story of Job. 

A number of stories about the vision have appeared over the years.  Leo himself never spoke publicly or in writing about the incident.  Joe Tremblay, in his 2013 article The 100 Years Test, writes the pope “turned pale and collapsed as though dead.”   Father William Saunders ,in his 2003 article The Prayer to St. Michael , expands on the description by relating that several attending Cardinals found the Pope had

no pulse…and the Holy Father was feared dead [and then] suddenly, Pope Leo awoke and said, “What a horrible picture I was permitted to see!” 

Yet another version offered in Tradition in Action claims that Leo added

in the midst of the horror [of the vision] the Archangel St. Michael appeared and cast Satan and his legions into the abyss of hell.

In Leo’s vision,

God gave Satan the choice of one century in which to do his worst work against the Churchthe devil chose the Twentieth Century.
—Fr. William Saunders, The Prayer to St. Michael

So troubling was the vision, that the Pope composed The Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel in which he pleaded “defend us in battle!” and to “be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  The pope ordered the prayer be recited at the end of each Lower Mass.  Pope Paul VI suppressed the rite and prayer in 1968.


The Twentieth Century was, indeed, a bad one.  World Wars I and II engulfed the globe.  The rise of communism with its anti-Christ philosophy shook Christianity.  The Armenian genocide and the Holocaust are breath-taking examples of the Century’s murderous excess.  The atom bomb was made real by scientists, many of whom didn’t believe in prayer or a spiritual God. Were they agents of the devil?   Secularism swept through nation after nation as Christ’s influence was slowly eroded.  Church attendance declined, and along with it religious vocations dropped dramatically.  And as a capstone of horrors, Pope John Paul II was shot in an assassination attempt.  The sin of abortion was legalized as part of a worldwide sexual revolution.    So the question arises: Did the devil alter the Church?

One train of thought can be found on the website of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Wayne, Michigan.  A web page article entitled The Vision of Pope Leo XIII argues that Pope John XXIII started the church’s decline by summoning the Second Vatican Council, which did much to upend the Church’s doctrines and teachings.  In 1964 Pope Paul VI ended the mandatory Prayer of St. Michael’s recital at the end of every low Mass.  The website article asserts Pope Paul VI

…let the devil develop a church that is called Catholic, but is not.  The devil has twisted and distorted church teachings so much that there truly is a brand new church, a new order (Novus Ordo) and the true church has been reduced in population to a mere shell of what it once was…[even so] it will survive

The article continues, assuring the faithful by quoting

Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.
—Matt 16:18 (Douay-Rheims)


Historical investigations give the first public story in a 1933 German newspaper about the prayer to the Archangel St. Michael. A year later Fr. Bers, a German writer, claimed that after an extensive search he could find no mention of the vision. A 1955 edition of the Roman Journal Ephemerides Liturgicae. cites Father Domenico Pechenino, who worked at the Vatican during Leo XIII’s papacy and who claimed in 1947 that he witnessed the event.  The same article quotes Cardinal Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano (1872-1952) as relating that Leo’s

...private secretary, Monsignor Rinaldo Angeli… [claimed] Leo had seen a vision of demonic spirits who were congregating on the Eternal City (Rome) [inspiring him to write] the Saint Michael prayer.

Emmett O’Regan in his blog Prophecy of Pope Leo XIII: Update opines that before 1933 the story must have originally circulated in oral form amongst the Vatican staff and employees.”  Neither Father Pechenino nor Monsignor Angeli mention the fainting and deathlike trance of the Pope.  O’Regan writes that Pechenino said

we saw him raise his head and stare at something above the [Mass] Celebrant’s head.  He was staring noiselessly, without batting an eye.  His expression was one of horror and awe; the color and look of his face changing rapidly.  Something unusual and grave was happening to him…[and then] coming to his senses …he headed for his private office.
—Emmet O’Regan, op.cit.

A half hour later he handed the Secretary of the Congregation of Rights the Prayer to St. Michael and told him to send it out to all the ordinaries of the world.  Pechenino also said he didn’t remember in what year the incident occurred. 


So much uncertainty.  So what do we know about Leo himself?  We know he was one of the most learned of all our popes.  He spoke six languages fluently.  Elected pope in 1878 at 68 years old, he died twenty five years later in 1903 at 93.   He was the oldest pope in history.  When elected to the papacy, the Cincinnati [OH] Daily Star declared he was a “commanding figure [with a face] full of intelligence…[and] he has a nasal twang.  The Star went on to relate “he carries himself with almost haughty dignity …[but] has simple tastes.”   The New York Tribune asserted “he is a man of blameless life, strong mind, gentle disposition, culture, a scholar, refined manners and sincere piety.”

In 1900 a London Mail reporter spent a day with the then-89 year old pontiff and reported: “despite his great age he is a marvel of physical and intellectual vigor.”   The reporter added: “[he is] a most painstaking and fastidious scholar.”  A year later an article in the Virginia [MN] Enterprise revealed that on a daily basis he read dozens of the world’s newspapers “without glasses.”  He preferred nighttime reading “in the gentle glow of a candelabrum with three candles,” even though his Vatican apartment had been electrified and incandescent lights were available with the flick of a switch 

Various newspaper accounts related that he rose every morning at 7 A. M. and said Mass followed by attending a second Mass celebrated by a Vatican prelate, along with other inhabitants of the Holy See.  His Holiness had no teeth, which was representative of the primitive state of dentistry and dental hygiene in Europe at the time. The London Mail reported on his daily meals which consisted of a breakfast: “a cup of soup (or milk) and a “few chocolate pastilles [medicine lozenge].”  Sometimes he had a couple of soft boiled eggs.  His lunch consisted of an omelet, bread roll, cheese and a single glass of Bordeaux wine.      His dinner consisted of “little balls of hashed meat or minced chicken, eggs, well cooked vegetables and very ripe fruits.    Newspapers reported that when the dishes were removed it revealed he “has scarcely touched anything …what he has eaten would hardly be enough for a child of 6.”   

He exercised by taking daily walks around the halls of the Vatican after his meals.  He enjoyed stalking and netting (and releasing) birds around the Vatican gardens and nearby Catholic gardens and vineyards well into his senior years.  Like numerous contemporaries  (including Queen Victoria, Thomas Edison and President McKinley), he routinely sipped an era energy patent medicine/tonic Vin Mariani. The popular tonic was infused with cocaine—a legal narcotic at the time.  He enjoyed it so much that he allowed the manufacturer to use both his image and the Vatican seal in their advertisements.  Another habit he enjoyed was snuff.

Pope Leo’s  most famous Encyclical of his record 85 was Rerum Novarum (“Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor” )—considered the foundation of modern Catholic social teaching. 


Was the conversation between God and the devil God’s way of telling the devil to take his best shot?  Maybe it was His way of telling us that faith is a two-way street—while He asks us to have faith in Him—He’s telling us He has faith in us.  Or was God telling us that evil can win if we don’t pay attention?  Theologians tell us God is under no obligation to make sense to us.  As in the story of Job, He could explain His actions to us, but need not do so.  Do you wonder why?

Word Count  1559 

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12 thoughts on “God’s Chat with the Devil; <br> The Vision of Pope Leo XIII”

  1. In the year 2001, while about my prayers,, I was seized by a thought the kind that St Evagrius the Solitary (Pontus) wrote about a thought that is almost a voice, urging me to pray for this. “the hundred year you gave the Filth to destroy the Church is over. Remove therefore the extra power you gave him.” The Church to my poverty stricken mind was still there and here after one hundred years. The Church has won. I see the old saw over the Gates of hell is still discussed. The Church has not bent before the gates of hell. The Church has refused but not her children. We can and are through so many of her children’s actions destroying her in this world. Alas it is very few of us who will not surrender our faith of the ages but with the urging of false disciples and apostles we are accommodating the works of fools.
    Of course there is morw to my story than I have written

  2. So you’re saying that Leo himself never wrote or said anything at all publicly about this supposed vision, and neither did anybody else until 50 years after it supposedly happened, and 30 years after his death, and that most of the details weren’t stated until 70 years after it supposedly happened, by people who supposedly heard it second or third hand.

    Sorry but if that’s the best evidence you’ve got, I call bulldust.

  3. I have been searching for the WHY behind Vatican2. it weakened the church and rocked a lifetime of teachings. It seems I have stumbled upon part of the reason for it. I miss the OLD church the one that held me accountable for my actions and omissions. The church that set a high moral bar for me to aspire to. But by this prophecy it seems to have been gods will which puts more burden on the individual to maintain his/her spiritual standards. But I do miss the help the church used to give us in these areas and is not giving since Vatican 2. Truly Pope Leo had an accurate vision which few know about and even fewer too seriously.

  4. His Holiness Pope Leo XIII was truly blessed to have witnessed this dire discussion between God Almighty and the devil. God in choosing the Pope to present these revelations and giving us the powerful St. Michael Prayer, lets us make some sense of the terrible and evil things, such as war, abortion, and church decline (not to mention the evil reaching into the higher ranks of the Church), which have been happening and are continuing to happen. God bless the Holy Father and he should be canonized a great saint for this service to God and the Church.

  5. I have no doubt that Pope Leo XIII truly had the vision mentioned above. Besides, it did come true in the 20th century. Even the Holocaust that Satan must have inspired appeared under the aspect of an apparent good: cleansing the Aryan race! And the dropping of the A-bomb was believed to hasten the end of WWII. And when Satan slowly convinced the majority of the lay people that abortion was women’s healthcare and same-sex marriage was only fair and just, he also infested the Church with practicing homosexuals and homosexual predators, convincing the hierarchy that they must stay silent about it to protect the Church from her detractors. – God always keeps His promises; people, especially politicians, frequently do not.


      In the Bible it says that Satan is a “Master Deceiver”. You’ve described perfectly how Satan has spread his evil under the shroud of good. Master Deceiver indeed.

    2. Thank You, Dear Josephine, for your comments.
      We also address the following to All the Good People responsible for this Catholic Stand inspiring/leading readers: – To Living The Truth Jesus Lived and Taught ….. and respectfully ask for a response.
      The people who do not keep their promises are numerous indeed, when we consider that the men and women who say: They FALL in love, get married or just follow the latest legal convenience of …living together… so when they part they do not have to worry about divorcing …. and merrily hop on to the next …marriage: having FALLEN in LUST again!
      They outnumber all politicians!
      The politicians are ‘us’ … born and educated by us…. and then elected to represent us.
      That is the reality.
      Re. The Living Loving Good God of Jesus Christ of Nazareth … our Father in Heaven … is a Mystery indeed…and yet, some people keep on writing that God is this and that….does this, that and the other. Instead of teaching and mentoring people to DO as Jesus did and taught 2,000 years ago …. long before the Roman Catholic (Universal) Church was born.
      According to the the example and teachings of Jesus Christ of Nazareth … we should focus on doing what both Moses and Jesus taught the sinful people of the day to do. Sadly, the majority of people, including church goers and church leaders do not.
      Royal Commissions into Institutional corruption …. including Child Sexual Abuse … tell ‘our’ unspeakable story … our National and World wide Tragedy that, by now, all people know.
      Where to from here?
      What about encouraging the powerful churches to ‘nudge’ the State Governments to fashion a curriculum to educate every one: ( since schooling is compulsory)
      -from early childhood on
      – to tertiary education and beyond… (while involving parents, grandparents and carers in the process) … Teaching by doing:
      1. That all little boys and girls practice respecting themselves and each other!
      2. That, at the appropriate age, all learn about the power of sex for the good of humanity and for its destruction. (In Australia alone at least one women is murdered by her present or ex sexual partner, every week, In South Africa one women every 3 three hour is raped and/or murdered). Need we say more? Many world’s statistics are available these days.
      3. That all people in the Education obligatory system… (no ‘cop-out’ -electives- SHOULD BE ALLOWED!!}… be TRAINED by DOING the many skills necessary to enable us to become functional Responsible Parents, Grandparents, Carers and extended Family as well.
      Thank You!
      Please respond and, perhaps, spread the word where it counts for this training for all to become reality….. 2,000 year after Christ!
      Concerned Parents Network.
      The Christian Way!
      Friends of humanely ethical and moral science in all matters re. Church & State Governments’ Population Policy.

  6. I have to say that this in depth description of the man, Pope Leo XIII, makes me really like him a lot. What a very down to earth, yet seriously spiritual man.

    1. I am deeply disturbed by what I am reading. I have been following up on this matter for
      some time. Ive felt for a long time that the church of Rome played fast and loosed with the third secret of Fatima which contains a lot of the information that you present. The official
      church is in great jeapordy. Great repentance is necessary but the church will never call
      for it. Afraid of repurcussions. The gates of Hell will not prevail but we are greatly diminished. John Francis ofs

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