Saint Michael the Archangel
Justice in action and fierce protection are requested when we call on Saint Michael the Archangel. Devotions to him predate Christianity. Three major religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – consider him to be the greatest and most powerful of all angels. He is cited in the Book of Revelation as the angel who defeated Lucifer in his uprising against God. Lucifer, God’s most beautiful and favored angel, insisted he was equal or superior to God. He led a band of angels in a revolt against God and his omnipotence. Michael was the standard bearer against them. He defeated Lucifer and his allies and cast them out of heaven. He then took the name Mi-cha-el, meaning “Who is like God?”
The ancient Jewish people referred to Michael as “the Viceroy of Heaven” and considered him the protector of Israel. In the New Testament he is cited as the angel that will come at the end of the world to slay the Antichrist on Mount Olivet. Saint Michael was one of the three voices directing Saint Joan of Arc in her campaign to unite France. He is said to take an active role in the world and its protection and is called upon when a group, city, or nation is in danger. Also, it is Michael who meets the soul upon its earthly death and guides it to its afterlife. He is frequently shown with a pair of scales to weigh sins and virtues. This is probably why he is the patron saint of grocers.
From the earliest Christian times, the cults of devotion to Saint Michael were very popular, particularly in the East, where he was invoked to protect against illnesses. A church was dedicated to him in Constantinople to protect the health of the citizens in the fourth century. As his popularity spread, devotions to Saint Michael supplanted those to many of the pagan gods. In Germany, on the banks of the Rhine, he replaced Wotan, and in Roman Gaul he replaced Mercury. Statues depicting an angel with a battle helmet and sword began to appear in such far-flung places as India and Persia. On May 8, 492, he was sighted in a cave on the summit of Mount Gargano in southern Italy, causing it to become one of the first Christian pilgrimage sites. One hundred years later, as a plague raged in Rome, Pope Gregory I saw Michael sheathing a bloody sword over Emperor Hadrian’s tomb. He took this to mean that the city was now under Michael’s protection, and soon thereafter the plague ended. A church dedicated to Saint Michael was built over the tomb. It is now know as Castel Sant’Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel). The most famous shrine to Michael is Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy. This Benedictine abbey was found in the tenth century to commemorate an earlier apparition.
Michael is usually shown holding a banner and a pair of scales and brandishing a sword with his foot on the neck of the devil, who is frequently represented by a dragon. Besides being the patron saint of grocers, Saint Michael is invoked to protect soldiers and policemen as well as to guard against illnesses. Because of the famous visions of Michael, there are local feast days to him on May 8 in Gargano and October 16 in Mont-Saint-Michel. His official feast day, the Feast of the Archangel, is September 29, which he shares with the archangels Gabriel and Raphael.
Feast Day: September 29
Patron Saint of: Grocers, Soldiers, Policemen
Invoked for: Protection against illness
Novena to Michael the Archangel
Saint Michael the Archangel, loyal champion of God and his people, I turn to you with confidence and seek your powerful intercession. For the love of God, who made you so glorious in grace and power, and for the love of the Mother of Jesus, the Queen of the Angels, be pleased to hear my prayer. You know the value of my soul in the eyes of God. May no stain of evil ever disfigures its beauty. Help me to conquer the evil spirit who tempts me. I desire to imitate your loyalty to God and Holy Mother Church and your great love for God and men. And since you are God’s messenger for the care of his people, I entrust to you this special request.
(Mention your request.)
Saint Michael, since you are, by the will of the Creator, the powerful intercessor of Christians, I have great confidence in your prayers. I earnestly trust that if it is God’s holy will, my petition will be granted.
Pray for me, Saint Michael, and also for those I love. Protect us in all dangers of body and soul. Help us in our daily needs. Through your powerful intercession, may we live a holy life, die a happy death, and reach heaven, where we may praise and love God with you forever. Amen.
(Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, one Glory Be.)
Say this novena nine times in arrow for nine days in a row.
Excerpted from the book: “Novena: The Power of Prayer” by Barbara Calamari and Sandra DiPasqua