On Easter Monday, the Catholic Church celebrates what’s called “Monday of the Angel.” In many countries in Europe and South America, this day, also known as “Little Easter,” is a national holiday.
In a Vatican Radio recording in 1994, Pope John Paul II gave an explanation for Monday of the Angel:
“Why is it called that?” the pope asked, highlighting the need for an angel to call out from the depths of the grave: “He is Risen.”
These words “were very difficult to proclaim, to express, for a person,” said John Paul II. “Also, the women that were at the tomb encountered it empty but couldn’t tell ‘he had risen;’ they only affirmed that the tomb was empty. The angel said more: “He is not here, He has risen.”
The Gospel of Saint Matthew puts it this way: “Then the angel said to the women in reply, ‘Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.” (Matthew 28:5-7)
Angels are servants and messengers of God. As purely spiritual beings, they have intellects and wills. They are personal and immortal. They surpass all visible beings in their perfection.
Christ himself gives testimony to the angels when he said, “The angels in Heaven always see the face of my father who is in Heaven!” (Matthew 18:10).
Christ is the center of the universe and angels belong to him. Even more so, because he made them messengers of his plan of salvation: an angel announced his conception to the Blessed Mother at the Annunciation and an angel proclaimed his Resurrection to Mary Magdalene.
On Monday of the Angel in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI said the text of the Regina Caeli “is like a new ‘Annunciation’ to Mary, this time not made by an angel but by us Christians who invite the Mother to rejoice because her Son, whom she carried in her womb, is risen as he promised.”
He continued, “Indeed, ‘rejoice’ was the first word that the heavenly messenger addressed to the Virgin in Nazareth. And this is what it meant: Rejoice, Mary, because the Son of God is about to become man within you. Now, after the drama of the Passion, a new invitation to rejoice rings out: ‘Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia, quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia’ — Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia. Rejoice because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia!”
Regina Caeli (English)
V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For He whom you did 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 has truly risen, alleluia.
V. 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.
Regina Caeli (Latin)
V. Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
V. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
V. Oremus. Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.
Article translation and adaptation by Jeanette De Melo