The origins of this prayer are reported in a chronicle written in the 16th century by Fr. Francesco Gonzaga, Minister General of the Franciscan Friars Minor.
In 1317 Portugal was ravaged by the plague. The Poor Clares of Coimbra were very distressed by the advances of the disease, which was already widespread around their convent. Their anxiety and fear got to such extremes that the Mother Abbess had decided to break the cloister and allow the nuns to go elsewhere, to escape the plague. At that moment, the doorbell rang. A beggar was at the door, but his countenance was very much like that of an image of St. Bartholomew in the convent. The beggar gave to the nuns a paper with a prayer, telling them that if they prayed it daily, they would be protected from the disease. The text was the Stella Coeli Extirpavit. The nuns did pray it, and the plague passed them by and soon disappeared from the neighborhood.
The prayer rapidly spread throughout Europe, and was included in many prayer books, and as an appendix in the Franciscan Breviary.
Stélla caéli extirpávit / Quae lactávit Dóminum / Mórtis péstem quam plantávit / Prímus párens hóminum. / Ipsa stélla nunc dignétur / Sídera compéscere, / Quórum bélla plébem caédunt / Dírae mórtis úlcere.
O gloriósa stélla máris / A péste succúre nóbis: / Audi nos, nam te fílius / Níhil négans honórat. / Sálva nos, Jésu! / Pro quíbus vírgo máter te órat.
V. Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix.
R. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi
Deus misericórdiae, Deus pietátis, Deus indulgéntiae, qui misértus es super afflictiónem pópuli tui, et dixísti Angelo percuténti pópulum tuum: Cóntine manum tuam ob amórem illíus Stellae gloriósae, cuius úbera pretiósa contra venénum nostrórum delictórum quam dúlciter suxísti; praesta auxílium grátiae tuae, ut intercedénte Beata Vírgine María Matre tua et Sancto Ráphael tuo Archángelo, ab omni peste et improvísa morte secúre liberémur, et a totíus perditiónis incúrsu misericórditer salvémur. Per Te, Iesu Christe Rex glóriae, qui vivis et regnas in saécula saeculórum. Amen.
The Star of Heaven that nourished the Lord drove away the plague of death which the first parents of man brought into the world. May this bright Star now vouchsafe to extinguish that foul constellation whose battles have slain the people with the wound of death.
O most pious Star of the Sea, preserve us from pestilence; hear us, O Lady, for Thy Son honours Thee by denying Thee nothing. Save us, O Jesus, for whom Thy Virgin Mother supplicates Thee.
V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
O God of mercy, God of forbearance, God of forgiveness, who was moved to compassion for the affliction of Thy people, and who said to the Angel devastating Thy people: “Stay thy hand,” for the love of that glorious Star, at whose dearest breast Thou graciously fed against the poison of our sins; grant the help of Thy grace, that as Thy Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Saint Raphael, Thine Archangel, we be safely freed from every disease and from an unprovided death, and that we may be mercifully saved from the assault of utter ruin. Through Thee, Christ Jesus, King of Glory, who lives and reigns, world without end. Amen.