HISTORY OF THE PRAYER TO MARY, QUEEN OF THE ANGELS
[ Also known as the “August Queen” or “August Queen of Heaven” Prayer ]
The following gives the correct and detailed historical account * of the origin and story surrounding the beautiful and powerful prayer to Mary, Queen of the Angels.
The true and real recipient of the prayer was the holy and venerable French priest, Fr. Louis–Édouard Cestac [1801–1868], and not a nameless [female] soul or a Bernardine Sister [as the prayer is commonly attributed to in many sources and printed copies]. Fr. Louis–Édouard Cestac was the founder of the Congregation of the Servants of Mary, and declared Servant of God by Pope Pius X on April 8, 1908.
The prayer, dictated by the Blessed Mother herself, has special relevance and connection to the [earlier] apparition and message of La Salette [France, 1846]. In that tearful apparition, Our Lady said, among other things: “In the year 1864 Lucifer, together with a great number of demons, will be loosed from Hell; they will put an end to faith little by little, even in those dedicated to God.”
The year before this anticipated release [of demons], the Blessed Mother, out of love for mankind, gave the prayer as an evident form of ‘countermeasure’ to defeat the work of Satan. This was how the prayer was given to the world:
On January 13, 1863, Fr. Louis–Édouard Cestac, accustomed to the goodness of the Most Blessed Virgin, was suddenly struck by a ray of divine light: he saw a vision of demons widespread over the earth, causing inexpressible destruction. At the same time the August Mother of God told him that “the time had come to pray to her as Queen of the Angels, and to ask her to send the holy legions to fight and defeat the powers of hell.”
Fr. Cestac addressed the Virgin:
“My Mother, thou who art so good, couldst thou not send them without being asked?”
“No,” the Virgin replied; “Prayer is a condition established by God Himself for obtaining graces.”
“Well then, my Mother!” the priest entreated; “wouldst thou thyself teach me how to pray to thee?”
And the Most Holy Virgin dictated to him the “August Queen of Heaven” prayer.
“My first duty,” wrote Fr. Cestac, “was to present this prayer to Mgr. Lacroix, Bishop of Bayonne, who condescended to approve it. Having carried out this duty, I had 500,000 copies printed and had them sent everywhere.”
At the first printing, the press broke three times [not two times as related in many accounts]. But through the impulsion of the Venerable Father Cestac, founder of Our Lady of Refuge [home for poor girls], this prayer has spread throughout the Catholic world, accompanied everywhere by extraordinary favors.
This historical account is found on [and translated from] the copy of the French prayer card printed in 1945 with the Imprimatur of the local Bishop, Leo Albertus (see picture attached below), among other sources used in the completion of this article.
* Special thanks and credits are given to marysheel.org for publishing an article about this prayer [which substantially contributed to this article] that explained the reason behind the confusion regarding its original source [the real seer], and for including the 1945 French copy of the prayer containing its brief historical account.
The original French version of the “August Queen of Heaven” prayer
with the Imprimatur of the [local] Bishop of Bayonne, Leo Albertus, 1945.
Other Important Notes [Clarifications]
 The “August Queen of Heaven” prayer has many varying translations [though in essence could be identical] and which some people may find confusing . Adding to the nonuniformity, and although not of much consequence in itself, the arrangement or sequence of the phrases/sentences that follow after the main part of the prayer [the first long sentence] varies. In some versions, the important phrase “Who is like unto God?” is missing [and which phrase is found in the original French text of the prayer].
The translation published on this website was based on a 1945 French copy of the prayer [with the Imprimatur of the local Bishop] as seen above (picture attached); hence, even the order of the sentences/phrases followed that of the original French copy.
 In many historical accounts and printed copies of the prayer, the visionary is usually described as either a “[female] soul” or a “Bernardine Sister,” although the Servant of God himself, Fr. Louis–Édouard Cestac, was understood to be the recipient of this prayer. From whence is this discrepancy? Apparently, it came from Fr. Cestac himself [out of his humility]!
In the written report submitted by Fr. Cestac to Mgr. Lacroix, Bishop of Bayonne, in 1864, he referred to a [female] “soul” receiving the vision. However, in the Beatification process documents,** there was written the following [which shed light on the matter and confirmed who the real visionary was]: “Who was ‘this simple soul, accustomed to many graces from the Most Holy Virgin?’ None other than the good Father himself.” He [Fr. Cestac] also confided to the Mother Superior, Mère Marie–Francois de Paule, who guarded the secret religiously until the death of the venerable Father.
So is the mystery solved: In an effort to anonymize himself, while being actively involved in the printing and distribution of 500,000 prayer cards and different translations, the holy priest wrote that it was a [female] “soul” who received the vision, and not himself.
Father Cestac died in 1868 and this ‘secret’ would have been openly revealed by then, as it was also referred to in the Beatification process documents.** It is also in the interest of truth, justice and piety that the real visionary be made known and publicly recognized [especially that there is no more danger to the seer’s esteemed virtue of humility – he who is now most likely enjoying the Beatific Vision in Heaven]. It is therefore only appropriate that the true recipient of the “celestial prayer” be [correctly] named and published together with the prayer and in all historical accounts/sources – for the greater glory of God, the praise and honor of His Virgin Mother, and the exaltation of Their servant, Fr. Louis–Édouard Cestac.
[The reference to a “Bernardine Sister” could have been inferred from the fact that Fr. Cestac also founded a contemplative community called the Monastery of Saint Bernard, also known as “Bernardines.” This article is just not sure whether the reference was first made by Fr. Cestac himself or by other sources/authors.]
 It should be noted also that the correct date when the prayer was given by the Blessed Mother to Fr. Cestac is January 13, 1863, and not January 13, 1864 [as some accounts erroneously put it]. This year (1863) was indicated in the Beatification process documents ** itself as the year when the vision was received; it is also the year written on the  French prayer card mentioned and attached in this article; and lastly, the year 1863 would be most reasonable as it allowed for sufficient time for the prayer to be approved, printed and distributed [in anticipation of the imminent release of demons from Hell which was to occur in 1864 as prophesied by Our Lady at La Salette].
The mistake (year 1864) could have arisen from misreading a passage found in the Beatification process documents: It was related that on January 13, 1864, the first year anniversary of the vision, Fr. Cestac wrote to Cardinal Villecourt to ask for the blessing of the Pope, Pius IX, for the prayer, and which the Holy Father granted. So it was the year that Fr. Cestac approached the Pope, through the Cardinal, for a papal blessing – and not the year the vision and prayer was received.
** The Beatification process documents referred to above are recorded in the book “Le vénérable Louis–Edouard Cestac, fondateur de Notre Dame du réfuge à Anglet, Sa vie – son oeuvre, d’après ses écrits et son procès de béatification. 1925 Bordarrampe P.” [A second edition by the same author was also printed in 1936.]
Fr. Louis–Édouard Cestac
“ Ask only for my spirit… ”
Our Lady to Fr. Cestac
For his short and inspiring biography, please read here.