Collection: St. Michael Archangel

ARTIST: Br. Arturo Olivas, OFS


Both the Old and the New Testament refer to the legions of angels, which do God’s bidding. One of the best known and loved of the angels is Michael. He is described in Revelation 12:7-9 as leading his soldier angels in battle against the dragon, which represents evil. In Christian tradition he is the general of the heavenly host and defender of the church militant. He is the angel of Divine wrath and judgement and clears the way for the return of Christ at the end of the world. As the warrior angel, Michael fights to ward off temptation and to defend souls against attacks from Satan, especially at the moment of death.

St. Michael is usually shown dressed as a soldier in the uniform of a Roman centurion. He carries a sword or lance in one hand and sometimes the scales of judgement in the other. He can be shown with or without the dragon or some other kind of monster being trampled under foot. Mexican settlers brought devotion to St. Michael to New Mexico in the 16th century. A chapel built by Mexican Tlaxcalan Indians in Santa Fe during the mid-seventeenth century was dedicated to St. Michael and still stands not far from the ancient plaza. New Mexican artists called santeros painted his image on pine panels with natural pigments and sealed with pinon sap varnish. These artists sometimes replaced the traditional dragon of European origin with the deadly rattlesnake of the southwest.

St. Michael is appealed to for protection against temptation and evil, especially at the moment before death. He is the patron of soldiers and the guardian of small children.

His feast day is September 29th.

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St. Michael is one of the principal angels; his name was the war-cry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against the enemy and his followers. Four times his name is recorded in Scripture:

1. Daniel 10:13 sqq: Gabriel says to Daniel, when he asks God to permit the Jews to return to Jerusalem: "The Angel [D.V. prince] of the kingdom of the Persians resisted me... and, behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me... and none is my helper in all these things, but Michael your prince"

2. Daniel 12: the Angel speaking of the end of the world and the Antichrist says: "At that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the children of thy people."

3. In the Catholic Epistle of St. Jude: "When Michael the Archangel, disputing with the devil, contended about the body of Moses", etc. St. Jude alludes to an ancient Jewish tradition of a dispute between Michael and Satan over the body of Moses, an account of which is also found in the apocryphal book on the assumption of Moses (Origen, "De principiis", III, 2, 2). St. Michael concealed the tomb of Moses; Satan, however, by disclosing it, tried to seduce the Jewish people to the sin of hero-worship. St. Michael also guards the body of Eve, according to the "Revelation of Moses" ("Apocryphal Gospels", etc., ed. A. Walker, Edinburgh, p. 647).

4. Apocalypse 12:7: "And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon." St. John speaks of the great conflict at the end of time, which reflects also the battle in heaven at the beginning of time. According to the Fathers there is often question of St. Michael in Scripture where his name is not mentioned. They say he was the cherub who stood at the gate of paradise, "to keep the way of the tree of life" (Gen., iii, 24), the angel through whom God published the Decalogue to his chosen people, the angel who stood in the way against Balaam (Numbers 22:22 sqq.), the angel who routed the army of Sennacherib (IV Kings 19:35).

Following these Scriptural passages, Christian tradition gives to St. Michael four offices:

To fight against Satan.

To rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy, especially at the hour of death.

To be the champion of God's people, the Jews in the Old Law, the Christians in the New Testament; therefore he was the patron of the Church, and of the orders of knights during the Middle Ages.

To call away from earth and bring men's souls to judgment ("signifer S. Michael repraesentet eas in lucam sanctam", Offert. Miss Defunct. "Constituit eum principem super animas suscipiendas", Antiph. off. Cf. "Hermas", Pastor, I, 3, Simil. VIII, 3).