Regina Caeli is the chant antiphon (1) sung at the end of Compline during the Easter Season. The anthem also replaces the daily
Angelus prayer until Pentecost.
Dom Guéranger explains the history and devotion behind this antiphon:
"There is a venerable tradition connected with this joyous anthem. It is related that a fearful pestilence raged in Rome during one of the Easters of the pontificate of
St. Gregory the Great. In order to propitiate the anger of God, the holy Pope prescribed a public procession of both people and clergy, in which was to be carried the portrait of Our Blessed Lady painted by St. Luke.
"The procession was advancing in the direction of St. Peter's, and, as the holy picture, followed by the Pontiff, was carried along, the atmosphere became pure and free from pestilence. Having reached the bridge
that joins the city with the Vatican, a choir of Angels was heard singing above the picture, and saying: 'Rejoice, O Queen of Heaven, Alleluia! For He Whom thou didst deserve to bear,
Alleluia! He hath risen as He said, Alleluia!'
"As soon as the heavenly music ceased, the saintly Pontiff took courage and added these words to those of the
Angels: 'Pray to God for us, Alleluia!'
Thus was composed the Paschal anthem to Our Lady. Raising his eyes to Heaven,
Pope Gregory saw the destroying Angel standing on the top of the Mole of Hadrian, sheathing his sword. In memory of this apparition, the Mole was called the Castle of Sant'Angelo, and on the dome was placed an immense statue representing an Angel holding his sword in the scabbard." (2)
There are two versions of the Regina Caeli: the simple tone, and the solemn tone. We have included both versions below.
At left: "Salus Populi Romani" (Health of the Roman People), the painting attributed to St. Luke which saved Rome from pestilence;
at right, the statue atop the
Castel Sant'Angelo, representing the destroyer Angel who sheathed his sword
The chant above is the same one in the Liber Usualis, Desclée & Co., Tournai, 1934, p. 278.
Dom Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, St. Bonaventure Publications, 2000 (reprint of 1949), vol. 7, pp. 98-99.