Friday, May 8, 2015

A Feast of St. Michael Today

One of the first Biblical stories we hear in grade school Catechism is how St. Michael, before our world was even created, defeated the forces of evil and cast Lucifer, the rebel angel, down into hell.  But there are only a few recorded visits of St. Michael to the earth. 

Castel San'Angelo
He appeared in Rome in the 6th century to Saint Gregory the Great, sheathing his sword to announce the end of a pestilence and the appeasement of a punishment of God. The great angel appeared to St. Gregory suspended over the mausoleum of Hadrian, and the church that was built in its place has since that time been called the"Castel Sant'Angelo" (Castle of the Holy Angel).

Mont St. Michel in the Sea
 St. Michael is also recorded to have appeared at the beginning of the 8th century to Saint Ausbert, bishop of Avranches in France.  After St. Michael's first visit, the good bishop failed to construct a church on the rocky island where the archangel had directed.  Legend has it that, in exasperation with St. Ausbert, St. Michael returned, and to drive home his point, thrust his finger into the saint's skull compelling him to get to work.  The oratory was finally completed in St. Ausbert's time, then rebuilt in the 10th century as a beautiful Benedictine Abbey known as Mont-Saint-Michel in the sea, a famous pilgrimage site to this day.  The relic of St. Ausbert's skull, complete with hole caused by St. Michael, can still be seen at Saint-Gervais Basilica in Avranches.

In the 18th century, a Portuguese Carmelite nun, Antoia d' Astonaco, reported an apparition and private revelation of the Archangel Michael who had told her that he'd like to be honored, and God glorified, by the praying of nine special invocations corresponding to the nine choirs of angels.  This was the origin of the  Chaplet of Saint Michael.  This private revelation and prayers were approved by Pope Pius IX in 1851.

But the feast today actually remembers the marvelous apparition that occurred near Monte Gargano in the Kingdom of Naples at the end of the fifth century.  The story, as related in the Catholic Encyclopedia goes like this:

In the year 492 a man named Gargan was pasturing his large herds in the countryside. One day a bull fled to the mountain, where at first it could not be found. When its refuge in a cave was discovered, an arrow was shot into the cave, but the arrow returned to wound the one who had sent it. Faced with so mysterious an occurrence, the persons concerned decided to consult the bishop of the region. He ordered three days of fasting and prayers. After three days, the Archangel Saint Michael appeared to the bishop and declared that the cavern where the bull had taken refuge was under his protection, and that God wanted it to be consecrated under his name and in honor of all the Holy Angels.

Accompanied by his clergy and people, the pontiff went to that cavern, which he found already disposed in the form of a church. The divine mysteries were celebrated there, and there arose in this same place a magnificent temple where the divine Power has wrought great miracles. To thank God’s adorable goodness for the protection of the holy Archangel, the effect of His merciful Providence, this feast day was instituted by the Church in his honor.
The grotto under the basilica at San Michel  -- where St. Michael appeared

St. Michael is the Guardian of the Catholic Church, the patron of Kiev, the patron of police officers, all military personnel, grocers, and paratroopers.  St. Michael has also been foreseen as the special patron of the Church at the time of the antichrist.
Click and print coloring page for the day.
St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle.  Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  Rebuke him, Oh God, we humbly beseech Thee, and do thou, Oh prince of the Heavenly Host, through the Divine Power, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.  Amen.

(Pope Leo VIII  composed the original, longer version of this prayer after recovering from a horrific vision God permitted him to see in which evil spirits released from Hell bent tremendous effort toward the destruction of the Church. In the midst of the horror presented in this vision, the archangel Michael appeared and cast Satan and his legions into the abyss of hell.)

* Repost: 2012

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