Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of
Antioch, 1st c. A.D
Feast of St. Michael
There are seven Archangels
in all, but only the three
mentioned in Sacred Scripture are commemorated liturgically; St.
Gabriel's Feast is on 24 March, and St.
Raphael's Feast is on 24
October (the Guardian Angels are
remembered on 2 October). The other
archangels, whose names we know from the non-canonical Book of Enoch,
are Uriel, Raguel,
Sariel, and Jeramiel.) Today, though, we honor St. Michael the
Archangel, whose very name in Hebrew means, "Who is Like God" ("Quis ut
Deus" in Latin).
Michael is described in the Golden Legend, written in A.D. 1275 by
Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, thus:
For like as
Daniel witnesseth, he shall arise and address in the time of Antichrist
against him, and shall stand as a defender and keeper for them that be
chosen. [Daniel 10:13, 12]
He also fought with the dragon and his angels, and casting them out of
heaven, had a great victory. [Apocalypse 12:7-9]
He also had a great plea and altercation with the devil for the body of
Moses, because he would not show it; for the children of Israel should
have adored and worshipped it. [Jude 1]
He received the souls of saints and brought them into the paradise of
exultation and joy.
He was prince of the synagogue of the Jews, but now he is established
of our Lord, prince of the church of Jesu Christ.
And as it is said, he made the plagues of Egypt, he departed and
divided the Red Sea, he led the people of Israel by the desert and set
them in the land of promission, he is had among the company of holy
angels as bannerer. And bearing the sign of our Lord, he shall slay by
the commandment of God, right puissantly, Antichrist that shall be in
the Mount of Olivet. And dead men shall arise at the voice of this same
archangel. And he shall show at the day of judgment the Cross, the
spear, the nails and the crown of thorns of Jesu Christ.
St. Michael's final victory over the Antichrist, the Golden Legend
victory is that the archangel Michael shall have of Antichrist when he
shall slay him. Then Michael, the great prince, shall arise, as it is
said Danielis xii.: “He shall arise for them that be chosen as a helper
and a protector, and shall strongly stand against Antichrist.” And
after, as the Gloss saith: “Antichrist shall feign him to be dead, and
shall hide him three days,” and after, he shall appear saying that he
is risen from death to life, and the devils shall bear him by art
magic, and shall mount up into the air, and all the people shall marvel
and worship him. And at the last he shall mount up on the Mount of
Olivet, and when he shall be in a pavilion, in his siege [seat],
entered into that place where our Lord ascended, Michael shall come and
shall slay him. Of which victory is understood, after St. Gregory, that
which is said in the Apocalypse. The battle is made in heaven.
This word of the treble battle in heaven is expounded of the battle
that he had with Lucifer when he expulsed him out of heaven, and of the
battle that he had with the devils that torment us.
St. Michael is
our warrior against the Evil One, and is the one we call on in times of
temptation, especially with our Prayer to St. Michael -- a prayer every
Catholic, even the youngest, should commit to memory:
St. Michael the
Archangel, defend us in battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness
and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do
Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into
Hell, Satan and all the other evil spirits, who wander throughout the
world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
champion of Israel has made many important appearances throughout the
years. In A.D. 590, during the reign of Pope Gregory, a great
pestilence swept through Rome. During a procession
and litanies led by
the Holy Father there, St. Michael appeared over the Castel Sant'Angelo
building which was formerly Hadrian's tomb, but which was
converted to papal
use, connected to the Vatican by a long tunnel. A statue of St. Michael
sits atop the building today.
Mont St. Michel was built to St. Michael's honor off the coast of
Normandy, France because our warrior Saint is said to have appeared
708 to St. Aubert, Bishop of Avranches.1
Sant'Angelo in Rome, and Mont Saint Michel in France
Another important place sacred to St. Michael is the Sanctuary of Monte
Sant'Angelo on Monte Gargagno, in the commune of Monte Sant'Angelo in
basilica is at the site of a cave near which St. Michael appeared
several times to the Bishop of Sipontum in A.D. 490.
Michael told the Bishop that the cave should be consecrated and that,
in return, the nearby town of Sipontum would be saved from pagan
When the pagans came, St. Michael appeared on top of a mountain near
the cave, brandishing a flaming sword, and the people of the town were
Pope Gelasius I, who held the Petrine office from A.D. 492 to 496,
the basilica there, and the cave itself is a place of healing and
St. Michael also, along with SS. Margaret and Catherine, appeared to St.
Joan of Arc (d. 1431) when she was thirteen years old, encouraging
to assist the future Charles VII in defeating the English. She later
judges, "I saw them with these very eyes, as well as I see you."
St. Michael is patron of knights, policemen, soldiers, paramedics,
ambulance drivers, etc., and also danger at sea, for the sick, and of a
holy death. He is usually depicted in art carrying a sword and/or
shield, battling Satan, and the old Prayer to
St. Michael is one of a handful of prayers that all Catholics
should have memorized. Use it when in fear, when tempted or threatened,
when seeing evil, etc. (Read more about Spiritual Warfare).
Some may prepare
for Michaelmas2 by praying a Novena
St. Michael beginning on 20 September and ending on the eve of his
feast (the 28th). Some may have been making St. Michael's Lent from the Feast of the Assumption to
now in imitation of St. Francis, which culminates in an Act of
Consecration to St. Michael the Archangel today.
life-spring of the soul!
The Father's Power and Glory bright!
Thee with the Angels we extol;
From Thee they draw their life and light.
Thy thousand, thousand hosts are spread,
Embattled o’er the azure sky;
But Michael bears thy standard dread,
And lifts the mighty Cross on high.
He in that Sign the rebel powers
Did with their Dragon Prince expel;
And hurled them from
the Heaven’s high towers,
Down like a thunderbolt to hell.
Grant us with Michael still, O Lord,
Against the Prince of Pride to fight;
So may a crown be our reward,
Before the Lamb's pure throne of light.
To God the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, all glory be;
With Thee, O blessed Paraclete,
Henceforth through all eternity. Amen.
Antiphon: Most glorious Prince, Michael the Archangel, be mindful of
us: pray for us always both here and everywhere to the Son of God.
V. In the sight of the Angels I will sing psalms to Thee, O my God.
R. I will adore at thy holy temple, and will confess to Thy name.
Let us pray. O God, Who disposest the services of Angels and men in a
wonderful order; mercifully grant that those who ever stand before
Thee, ministering to Thee in Heaven, may themselves also protect our
life here upon earth. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
At this time of
year, the Aster (Aster nova-belgii) blooms, and it has become known as
the Michaelmas Daisy. The Michaelmas Daisy comes
in many colors, from white to pink to purple. An old verse goes:
Daisies, among dede weeds,
Bloom for St Michael's valorous deeds.
And seems the last of flowers that stood,
Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.
(The Feast of
SS. Simon and Jude is 28 October) An old custom surrounds Michaelmas
Daisies; one plucks off the petals one by one thus: pull a petal while
saying "S/he loves me," then pull of the next while saying "S/he loves
me not," and repeat until all petals are gone. The words one intones
while pulling off the last petal lets one know if one's love is
As to foods, geese were, at least at one time, plentiful
time of year, so roast goose dinners are traditional (eating them on
this day is said to protect against financial hardship, according to
Irish and English folk belief). It was also the time (at least in
Ireland) when the fishing season ended, the hunting season began, and
apples were harvested, so eating apples today with that goose would be
a nice touch.
with Apples (serves 8)
1 13-lb. goose, giblets and neck discarded (you'll need 1 lb per
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
8 golden delicious apples, peeled, each cut into 6 wedges
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
6 TBSP sugar
1/4 cup calvados (apple brandy)
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350oF.
inside and out; pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle inside and out with
salt and pepper. Using knife, cut small slits all over goose; place
garlic slices into slits. Place goose on rack, breast side down, in
large roasting pan. Roast goose 2 hours 45 minutes, basting
occasionally with drippings and removing excess fat; reserve 6
tablespoons fat. Turn goose over. Roast until brown and thermometer
inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, basting
occasionally with drippings, about 45 minutes longer. Meanwhile, toss
apples and lemon juice in large bowl. Pour 6 tablespoons goose fat into
15 x 10 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Using slotted spoon, transfer
apples to baking dish; toss apples in goose fat. Add sugar, Calvados
and cinnamon to apples; toss. Bake apples alongside goose until very
tender and golden, about 1 hour. Serve goose with caramelized apples
and a Bordeaux wine.
When you cut up
your apples, cross-section a few -- cut horizontally through the
mid-section, between the stem and calyx -- and show your children how
the 5 seeds
inside the 5-pointed star found inside represent the Five Wounds of Christ. They say, too, that if
you ask a question that can be answered with a "yes" or "no," twist the
stem of an apple while saying "yes" and "no," the answer being said
when the stem breaks off is the answer to your question (others say the
alphabet while twisting the stem: the letter announced when the stem
breaks is said to be the first initial of your future spouse's name).
Another fun thing to do
with apples is to make those little apple dolls that always resemble
Peel an apple (Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples work well),
cutting away any bruises (some people say to core the apple, others say
not to. Experiment for yourself). Carve as life-like a face as possible
into the apple (don't cut too deeply so as to avoid rotting). Don't
forget the little things that make a face so human -- the little lines
running from nose to mouth, the hollows of the eyes, the depressions
caused by cheekbones, etc., but make the features exaggerated since
they'll shrink as the apples dry. Depending on the "skin" tone desired,
the carved apple for about 45 minutes in a mixture of lemon juice (or
cider vinegar) and water (the longer you soak, the lighter the "skin"
tone will be).
Hang the apple up in the dryest, darkest room of your home. Come back
in 3 to 4 weeks to see what you have (Hallowe'en
would be perfect time for the unveiling if these are made on
Michaelmas). It should have shrunk by
about two thirds its original size, darkened some, and show the wizened
features of an old woman or man. When thoroughly dry, decorate using
very diluted food colorings for rouge; corn silk, cotton, or yarn for
hair; cloves or food colorings for eyes; fabric triangles for scarves,
etc. Secure onto a "body" made of a bottle, styrofoam cone, wooden
dowel, etc., and make clothes as desired.
For the Irish,
the next food du jour is St. Michael's Bannock, a scone-like bread,
cooked in a frying pan.
1 1/3 C. barley flour
1 1/3 C. oat meal
1 1/3 C. rye meal
1 C. flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 scant tsp baking soda
2 1/2-3 C. buttermilk
3 TBSP honey or brown sugar
1 C. cream
4 TBSP melted butter
Mix the barley flour, oat meal, and rye meal. Add flour and salt. Mix
the soda and buttermilk (start with the 2 1/2 C) and then add to the
dry mixture. Stir in honey. Turn out onto floured board and mix (as
with all breads, don't over-mix), adding more buttermilk if too dry, or
more flour if too sticky).
Divide dough in half, and roll each half, on a floured board, into an
circle (about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick). While heating a lightly
greased skillet, mix the eggs, cream, and melted butter. Spread onto
one of the bannocks and place the bannock, egg-side down, in the
skillet and cook til the egg-side is browned. Put the egg mixture on
the top side, flip the bannock and cook 'til the second side is golden.
Repeat this application of the egg wash and flipping and cooking until
each side has been cooked three times. Do the same with the second
bannock. Serve warm with butter and honey.
According to an
old Irish folk tale, blackberries were supposed to have been harvested
and used up by this date, too, since it is told to children that
on this date -- eons ago, at the beginning of time -- when Satan was
kicked out of Heaven, he landed in a bramble patch --
and he returns each year on this feast to curse and spit on the fruits
of the plant he
landed on, rendering them inedible thereafter. So a dessert with
blackberries would be perfect.
6 cups fresh blackberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 TBSP butter, softened
2 TBSP vegetable oil
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp table salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, gently combine
blackberries, 1/3 c. granulated sugar and 1/3 c. all-purpose flour.
Transfer to an 8 x 8 baking dish. For the crumble topping, combine
remaining ingredients in a medium bowl and work together with your
hands until the ingredients resemble a crumble. Sprinkle over the
blackberry mixture. Bake crumble until the the topping is golden brown
and blackberries are bubbling, about 40 minutes. Let cool for 15
minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature, with ice
cream, whipped cream, or plain old heavy cream if desired. (If you want
a 9X13 pan full of crumble, just double the ingredients).
to tell you about a charming Bavarian Michaelmas tradition from
Augsburg, Germany, as described by Dorothy Gladys Spicer's "The
Western Europe" (1958):
On September 29,
Saint Michael's Day, the city of Augsburg holds an annual autumn fair
to which hundreds of peasants from far and near come for trade and
pleasure. Chief among the day's attractions is the hourly appearance of
figures representing the Archangel and the Devil. The figures are built
in the foundation of Perlach Turm, or Tower, called Tura in local
dialect. This slender structure, which rises to a height of
two-hundred-and-twenty-five-feet and stands next to the Peter's Kirche,
north of the Rathaus, originally was a watch tower. In 1615 the watch
tower was heightened and converted into a belfry.
Almost a hundred years earlier the group depicting the saint and the
devil had been installed in the tower's understructure. Annually on his
feast day the archangel's armor-clad figure, holding a pointed spear,
appeared whenever the tower bell struck, and stabbed at the devil
writhing at his feet.
During World War II the historic figures--the delight of generations of
fair-goers--were destroyed. Since then a new group has been made and
installed. Today, as for over four centuries, spectators continue to
gather about the Tura and to watch breathlessly the symbolic drama of
Michael, head of the Church Triumphant, dealing death blows to the
dragon which brings evil and destruction to the world of men.
The topic of Michaelmas can't be left without mentioning
Bach's Man singet mit Freuden vom
Sieg (BWV 149), written for St. Michael's Day --
-- and the very ancient hymn "Te splendor et virtus Patris,"
written by the 9th century Benedictine monk Blessed Rabanus
Maurus, and revised by Pope Urban.
Te, splendor et
Te vita, Jesu, cordium,
Ab ore qui pendent tuo,
Laudámus inter Angelos.
Tibi mille densa millium
Ducum coróna mílitat;
Sed éxplicat victor Crucem
Míchaël salútis sígnifer.
Dracónis hic dirum caput
In ima pellit tártara,
Ducemque cum rebéllibus
Caelesti ab arce fúlminat.
Contra ducem superbiae
Sequámur hunc nos príncipem,
Ut detur ex Agni throno
Nobis coróna gloriae.
Deo Patri sit gloria,
Qui, quos redémit Filius,
Et Sanctus unxit Spíritus,
Per Angelos custodiat. Amen.
life-spring of the soul!
The Father's Power and Glory bright!
Thee with Angels we extol;
from Thee they draw their life and light.
Thy thousand, thousand hosts are spread,
embattled o’er the azure sky;
but Michael bears Thy standard dread,
and lifts the mighty Cross on high.
He in that sign the rebel powers
did with their dragon prince expel:
and hurled them from heaven’s high towers,
down like a thunderbolt to hell.
Grant us, with Michael, still, O Lord,
Against the prince of pride to fight;
So may a crown be our reward,
Before the Lamb’s pure throne of light.
To God the Father, with the Son
And Holy Paraclete, with thee,
As evermore hath been before,
Be glory through eternity. Amen.
From Dom Prosper
Gueranger's "The Liturgical Year"
The glorious Archangel appears to-day at the head of the
heavenly army: There was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his
angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought and his
angels. In the sixth century, the dedication of the churches of
St. Michael on Monte Gtargano and in the Roman Circus increased the
celebrity of this day, which had however been long before consecrated
by Borne to the memory of all the heavenly Virtues.
The east commemorates on the sixth of September an apparition of the
victorious Prince at Chone in Phrygia; while the eighth of November is
their solemnity of the angels, corresponding to our feast of to-day,
and bearing the title: 'Synaxis of Saint Michael prince of the heavenly
host, and of the other spiritual Powers.' Although the term synaxk is
usually applied only to religious assemblies here on earth, we are
informed that in this instance it also signifies the gathering of the
faithful angels at the cry of their chief, and their union eternally
sealed by their victory.
Who, then, are these heavenly Powers, whose mysterious combat heads the
first page of history ? Their existence is attested by the traditions
of all nations as well as by the authority of holy Scripture.
If we consult the Church, she teaches us that in the beginning God
created simultaneously two natures, the spiritual and the corporal, and
afterwards man who is composed of both. The scale of nature descends by
gradation from beings made to the likeness of God, to the very confines
of nothingness ; and by the same degrees the creature mounts upwards to
his Creator. God is infinite being, infinite intelligence, infinite
love. The creature is for ever finite: but man, endowed with a
reasoning intellect, and the angel, with an intuitive grasp of truth,
are ever, by a continual process of purification, widening the bounds
of their imperfect nature, in order to reach, by increase of light, the
perfection of greater love.
God alone is simple with that unchangeable productive simplicity, which
is absolute perfection excluding the possibility of progress; He is
pure Act, in whom substance, power, and operation are one thing. The
angel, though entirely independent of matter, is yet subject to the
natural weakness necessary to a created being; he is not absolutely
simple, for in him action is distinct from power, and power from
essence. How much greater is the weakness of man's composite nature,
unable to carry on the operations of the intellect without the aid of
"Compared with ours," says one of the most enlightened brethren of the
angelic doctor, "how calm and how luminous is the knowledge of pure
spirits! They are not doomed to the intricate discoursings of our
reason, which runs after the truth, composes and analyzes, and
laboriously draws conclusions from premises. They instantaneously
apprehend the whole compass of primary truths. Their intuition is so
prompt, so lively, so penetrating, that it is impossible for them to be
surprised, as we are, into error. If they deceive themselves, it must
be of their own will. The perfection of their will is equal to the
perfection of their intellect. They know not what it is to be disturbed
by the violence of appetites. Their love is without emotion; and their
hatred of evil is as calm and as wisely tempered as their love. A will
so free can know no perplexity as to its aims, no inconstancy in its
resolutions. Whereas with us long and anxious meditation is necessary
before we make a decision, it is the property of the angels to
determine by a single act the object of their choice. God proposed to
them, as He does to us, infinite beatitude in the vision of His own
Essence; and to fit them for so great an end, He endowed them with
grace at the same time as He gave them being. In one instant they said
Yes or No; in one instant they freely and deliberately decided their
Let us not be envious. By nature the angel is superior to us; but, to
which of the angels hath He said at any time, "Thou art My Son" The
only begotten Son of God did not take to Himself the angelic nature.
When on earth, He acknowledged the temporary subordination of humanity
to those pure spirits, and deigned to receive from them, even as do His
brethren in the flesh, the announcements of the divine will, and help
and strength. But "God hath not subjected unto angels the world to
come," says the apostle. How can we understand this attraction of God
towards what is feeblest? We can only worship it in humble, loving
faith. It was Lucifer's stumbling-block on the day of the great battle
in heaven. But the faithful angels prostrated themselves in joyous
adoration at the feet of the Infant-God foreshown to them enthroned on
Mary's knee, and then rose up to sing: "Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men of good will."
O Christ, my Christ as St. Denis calls Thee, the Church today
delightedly proclaims Thee the beauty of the holy angels. Thou, the
God-Man, art the lofty height whence purity, light, and love flow down
upon the triple hierarchy of the nine choirs. Thou art the supreme
Hierarch, the centre of worlds, controller of the deifying mysteries at
the eternal feast.
Flaming Seraphim, glittering Cherubim, steadfast Thrones, court of
honour to the Most High, and possessed of the noblest inheritance:
according to the Areopagite, ye receive your justice, your splendour,
and your burning love by direct communication from our Lord: and
through you, all grace overflows from Him upon the holy city.
Dominations, Virtues, and Powers; sovereign disposers, prime movers,
and rulers of the universe: in whose name do ye govern the world?
Doubtless in His whose inheritance it is; in the name of the King of
glory, the Man-God, the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord of hosts.
Angels, Archangels, and Principalities; heaven's messengers,
ambassadors, and overseers here below: are ye not also, as the apostle
says, ministers of the salvation wrought on earth by Jesus, the
We also, through this same Jesus, O most holy Trinity, glorify Thee,
together with the three princely hierarchies, which surround Thy
Majesty with their nine immaterial rings as with a many-circled rampart.
To tend to Thee, and to draw all things to Thee, is their common law.
Purification, illumination, union: by these three ways in succession,
or simultaneously, are these noble beings attracted to God, and by the
same they attract those who strive to emulate them. Sublime spirits, it
is with your gaze ever fixed on high that ye influence those below and
around you. Draw plentifully, both for yourselves and for us, from the
central fires of the Divinity; purify us from more than the involuntary
infirmities of nature; enlighten us; kindle us with your heavenly
flames. For the same reason that Satan hates us, ye love us: protect
the race of the Word made Flesh against the common enemy. So guard us,
that we may hereafter be worthy to occupy among you the places left
vacant by the victims of pride.
1 For information's sake: near the top of
Mt. St. Michel is a restaurant called La Mère Poulard. It is the home
of the most famous omelette in the world, a soufflé-like omlette whose
recipe is secret -- but involves copper bowls and open fires -- and
which has chefs all over the world guessing.
2 "Michaelmas" is pronounced "MICKel-mus."
Today is also one of the 4 English "Quarter Days," days which fall
around the Equinoxes or Solstices and mark the beginnings of new
natural seasons (i.e., Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall) and which were
used in medieval times to mark "quarters" for legal purposes, such as
settling debts. The other days like this are: Lady Day (the Feast of
the Annunciation) on March 25, the Feast of St. John on June 24, and
Christmas on December 25.