Saturday, September 29, 2007


Today is officially the Feast of St. Michael and the Archangels, only one of my favorite days of the year. To say something that will make people think I'm far more conservative than I really am. . . I'm pretty old school about this. Once upon a time, this was simply Michaelmas, the Feast of St. Michael the archangel, while Sts. Gabriel and Raphael had their own days (March 24 and October 24 respectively). They've all been lumped together on this day, now but . . . I really do prefer a separate day for each for two reasons: 1) I think that we should get to know each of these angels as individuals and poor Raphael sometimes gets overshadowed by his more well known siblings and 2) I have a mad, long-term crush on Michael.

Yes, I know, I'm a fan-girl for a lot of things: anime, Jesuits, Firefly, nuns in habits, Jesus, etc. . . but, if you asked me who my number one was, it would be (naturally) God. Number two, though, would definitely be Michael.

I'm sure most of you reading this know the legend of how back at the beginning of time, Michael was instrumental in kicking the rebellious Satan out of heaven. This is, as you know, where he got his name, when he cried out (in the midst of kicking Satan's butt) "Who is like God?!", which, in Hebrew, comes out M'chael.

A lot of other traditions and legends have arisen since then about Michael, and I think today would be a good day to share some of these. . .

Jewish legend (referenced in Jude 1:8) holds that Michael and Satan met up again at the death of Moses, and quarreled over the patriarch's body (Satan contended that Moses was a murderer and not worthy of burial). Jude says of this "Not even the archangel Michael, when he was engaged in argument with the devil about the corpse of Moses, dared to denounce him with the language of abuse; all he said was, 'May the Lord rebuke you.'" *Sigh* A warrior and a gentleman. Goodness knows that if I had been in Michael's position, I would have fallen prey to my sometimes over active tongue, staring out with "Ah, go to hell ya blankety blank blank blankety blank!"

One of my favorites is one I actually heard in New Orleans, that says that blackberries are special to Michael because, when Satan fell, he fell through Earth, and over the hole left by his passage, a blackberry bush grew up to ensure that he didn't try to return the way he came (if you've ever picked blackberries, you understand why this might be considered a deterrent). This seems to be a variant of an old Irish tale that says that Satan landed on a blackberry bramble when he fell, and returns every year to spit upon the plant that caused him so much pain. For this reason, all the blackberries had to be harvested by Michaelmas, or else they'd be inedible after. So, eating a nice dessert involving blackberries would be a good way to celebrate the day.

Various sites are recognized for a connection with the angel, such as Mont St. Michel off the coast of Normandy, the Michaelion in Constantinople, Monte Gargano in Italy, St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall, Eusebios in Constantinople, and Chonae in Phrygia. These latter two are notable for showincasing Michael's healing abilities, Chonae especially for it's springs which legend says Michael had a hand in bringing forth.

Michael is considered the defender of the Church and of Christians, and protector against all evil. This is why when Pope Leo XIII had his vision regarding the (at the time, yet to happen) 20th century, he wrote the now popular prayer:

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.

Another, more involved prayer is the Chaplet of St. Michael, found here with some other Michaeline devotions.

Here's the prayer set to music (well, kinds), as found on YouTube:

Also, appropriate for today, an old fashioned book-burning over at Kat's place. She's cleaning out her library of things she doesn't want around anymore, but does not feel right about letting others be exposed to, so go ever, and see what you'd like to help rid the world of.