According to The Golden Legend, a thirteenth century work on the lives of the Saints, Pope Saint Gregory the Great in the 6th century was leading a procession asking for relief from a pestilence afflicting the population of Rome. Being carried in the procession was an icon of the Blessed Virgin reputedly painted by Saint Luke. Suddenly, the air was filled with a heavenly perfume dispelling the pestilence. Looking up, Saint Gregory beheld angels singing: “O, Queen of Heaven rejoice, Alleluia! For He whom you deserved to bear, Alleluia! Has risen as He said, Alleluia!” To which the holy Pope added: “O, pray to God for us, Alleluia!”
At the same time, the holy pontiff saw the angel of death sheathing his sword atop the Hill of Hadrian, today the Castle of Sant’Angelo.
Since then this story has been associated with the origins of the Regina Caeli.
The idea is to rejoice with Our Blessed Lady that her Son, after a grueling passion and frightful death, is alive again. While the prayer of the Angelus celebrates Jesus’ Incarnation, the Regina Caeli celebrates His Resurrection and “congratulates” the Mother on her Son’s victory over sin and death.
THE REGINA CAELI
V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For He whom thou didst merit to bear, alleluia.
V. Has risen, as He said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray:
O God, Who gave joy to the world through the Resurrection of Thy Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting Life. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
V. Regina Cæli, lætare, alleluia
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia
V. Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
V. Gaude et lætare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum lætificare dignatus es: præsta quæsumus, ut per eius Genitricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuæ capiamus gaudia vitæ. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.