Monday, September 29, 2008


Today is traditionally known in Roman Catholicism as Michaelmas - the Feast of the Archangel Michael.

Following is part of what Wikipedia has to say about St. Michael.


Michael is an archangel, one of the principal angels in Christian and Islamic tradition. He is viewed as the good Angel of Death (as opposed to Samael, the evil Angel of Death), and as the field commander of the Army of God. He is mentioned by name in the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation (12:7). In the book of Daniel, Michael appears as “one of the chief princes” (Daniel 10:13) who in Daniel’s vision comes to the angel Gabriel’s aid in his contest with the angel of Persia, Dobiel, and is also described there as the advocate of Israel and “great prince who stands up for the children of your (Daniel’s) people (Daniel 10:21, 12:1).

The Talmudic tradition rendered his name as meaning “who is like El (God)?” In recent years, a popular mistake has become to translate the name as “One who is like God.” It is, however, meant as a question: “Who is like the Lord?” The name was said to have been the war-cry of the angels in the battle fought in heaven against Satan and his followers.

Much of the late Midrashic detail about Michael was transmitted to Christianity through the Book of Enoch, whence it was taken up and further elaborated. In late medieval Christianity, Michael, together with St George, became the patron saint of chivalry and of the first chivalric order of France, the Order of Saint Michael of 1469. In the British honours system, a chivalric order founded in 1818 is also named for these two saints, the Order of St Michael and St George.

St Michael is also considered in many Christian circles as the patron saint of the warrior. His most singular honor was given to him in 1950 when Pope Pius XII (r. 1939-1958) named him patron of policemen. He is also a patron of Germany and one of the patron saints of the city of Brussels in Belgium. . . . In Germany, after its evangelization, Saint Michael replaced for the Christians the pagan god Wotan, to whom many mountains were sacred, hence the numerous mountain chapels of St. Michael all over Germany.

Roman Catholics refer to him as “Saint Michael the Archangel” and also simply as “Saint Michael.” Orthodox Christians refer to him as the “Taxiarch Archangel Michael” or simply “Archangel Michael.”

In both the Roman Catholic and the Lutheran calendar of saints, his feast day, once widely known as Michaelmas, is celebrated September 29 and was one of the four quarter days on which accounts were settled and, in England, when terms began in universities. Stubble-geese being esteemed in perfection about this time, most families had one dressed on Michaelmas Day. In some parishes they had a procession on this day and baked a cake, called St Michael’s bannock. His feast in the Middle Ages was celebrated as a holy day of obligation, but along with several other feasts it was gradually abolished since the eighteenth century.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church his principal feast day is November 8, where he is honored along with the rest of the “Bodiless Powers of Heaven” as their Supreme Commander, and his miraculous appearance at Colossae is commemorated on September 6.

See also the previous Wild Reed post:
The Archangel Michael as Gay Icon

Image 1: A 13th-century Byzantine icon of Michael the Archangel from the Monastery of St. Catherine, Sinai.
Image 2: The statue of St. Michael located in the Holy Family Chapel at the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet - St. Louis (Michael Bayly).
Image 3: St. Michael’s Bannock (Michael Bayly).

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