The author of Regina Caeli is unknown, but by virtue of its presence (or absence) in manuscripts, it had to have been composed sometime between the 9th and 12th centuries. One possible author in that time period is Pope Gregory V (+998). Its original use appears to have been in Rome where it was used as an Antiphon for Vespers at Easter. Today the Regina Caeli is used as hymn of joy during the Easter Season (Easter Sunday until Trinity Sunday) when it is used in place of the Angelus and prescribed to be recited at Compline. (see Angelus).
Perhaps the most interesting legend surrounding the prayer has it being composed, in part, by St. Gregory the Great. The legend has it that in the year 596, during Easter time, a pestilence was ravaging Rome. St. Gregory the Great requested a procession be held to pray that the pestilence be stopped. On the appointed day of the procession he assembled with his clergy at dawn at the church of Ara Coeli. Holding in his hand the icon of our Lady that was said to have been painted by St. Luke, he and his clergy started out in procession to St. Peter's. As he passed the Castle of Hadrian, as it was called in those days, voices were heard from above singing the Regina Caeli. The astonished Pope, enraptured with the angelic singing, replied in a loud voice: "Ora pro nobis Deum. Alleluia!" At that moment an angel appeared in a glorious light, sheathed the sword of pestilence in its scabbard, and from that day the pestilence ceased. In honor of this miraculous event, the name of the castle was then changed to Sant' Angelo and the words of the angelic hymn were inscribed upon the roof of the Church of Ara Coeli.
The traditional concluding versicle and collect, which are not part of the original antiphon, are also given below.
| REGINA, caeli, laetare, alleluia:
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia,
Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia.
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
| O QUEEN of heaven rejoice! alleluia:
For He whom thou didst merit to bear, alleluia,
Hath arisen as he said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.
| V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia,
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
| V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. Because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.
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. Amen.
| 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 His Mother, the Virgin Mary, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.