Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Friday, 9 May 2014

The Apparition Of Saint Michael The Archangel: “Who Is Like God ?”

and complements the Post, yesterday, on Saint Michael the Archangel's Feast Day.

The Sanctuary of Monte Sant’Angelo sul Gargano,
Italy, sometimes called, simply, Monte Gargano.

Well known is the Apparition of Saint Michael the Archangel, as related in the Roman Breviary, 8 May, at his renowned Sanctuary on Monte Gargano, Italy, where his original glory as Patron in war was restored to him.

To his intercession, the Lombards of Sipontum (Manfredonia) attributed their victory over the Greek Neapolitans, 8 May, 663 A.D.

Statue of Saint Michael
overlooking the main entrance at the Sanctuary of Saint Michael the Archangel,
Monte Sant’Angelo, Apulia, Italy.

In commemoration of this victory, the church of Sipontum instituted a special Feast in honour of the Archangel, on 8 May, which has spread over the entire Latin Church and is now called (since the time of Pope Saint Pius V) “Apparitio S. Michaelis”, although it originally did not commemorate the Apparition, but the victory.

(cfr. Catholic Encyclopedia)

Saint Michael the Archangel: “Who is like God ?”

In Hebraic, mîkâ’êl, means “Who is like God ?”

The Scriptures refer to the Archangel Saint Michael in four different passages: two of them, in Daniel’s prophesy (chap. 10, 13 and 21; and chap. 12, 1); one in Saint Jude Thaddeus (single chapter, vers. 9) and, finally, in the Revelation (chap. 12, 7-12).

In the Book of Daniel, the Saint Archangel appears as the “prince and protector of Israel”, who opposes the “prince”, or heavenly protector of the Persians.

According to Saint Jerome and other commentators, the Angel protector of Persia desired that some of the Jews would remain there to expand the knowledge of God; however, Saint Michael desired and asked the Lord that all Jews return to Palestine, to allow the Temple of the Lord to be completed in less time. The spiritual fight between the two Angels lasted twenty one days.

Saint Jude, in his Epistle, alludes to a dispute between Saint Michael and the demon over Moses’ body: the glorious Archangel – by God’s disposition – wanted Moses’ sepulcher to remain hidden; the demon, however, tried to make it known, with the objective of giving to the Jews an occasion to fall into idolatry, through the influence of the neighboring pagan peoples.

In Revelation, Saint John presents Saint Michael as commander-in-chief of the good Angels in a great fight in Heaven, against the rebel Angels, led by Satan, the dragon:
“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his Angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his Angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world — he was thrown down to the earth, and his Angels were thrown down with him” (Revelation 12, 7-12).

The Church did not define anything in particular about Saint Michael, but has permitted that the beliefs originated from the Christian traditions about the glorious Archangel have free course in the piety of the faithful and in the writings of the theologians.

The first of these beliefs is that Saint Michael was, in the Old Testament, the defender of the chosen people, Israel – and nowadays, he is the defender of the new chosen people, the Church.

This pious belief is in accordance with what is said in Daniel: “… but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me… Michael, your prince” – that is, prince of the Jews (Dan 10, 13 e 21); and again “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people”, the people of Israel (Dan 12, 1).

Statue of St. Michael on St. Michaelskirche Church in Siegen, Germany. The left wing of the angel statue was damaged in 1944 by bomb splinters. The damage was as a reminder of the Second World War, left intentionally so, and the rest of the church was restored.

This is a very ancient belief, being also confirmed by the Shepherd of Hermas, a celebrated Christian book of the II Century, in which one can read: “The great and honorable Michael is the one who has the power over this people” (the Christians).

Additionally, this is also believed by theologians and the Church, who corroborate it in several different ways.

The second of these beliefs is that Saint Michael has the power to admit, or not, the souls in Paradise.

Statue of Archangel St. Michael at the main entrance, University of Bonn, Germany.

In the Divine Office for this holy Archangel, in the old Breviary, Saint Michael was called “Praepositus paradisi”- “Guardian of the Paradise”, to whom God addresses Himself in the following terms: “Constitui te Principem super omnes animas suscipiendas” – “I constituted you the master above all souls to be admitted”. And, in the Mass for the Dead there was the prayer: “Signifer Sanctus Michael representet eas in lucem sanctam” – “O Flag-bearer Saint Michael, lead them to the holy light”.

The third of these beliefs, or, rather, the third opinion, is that Saint Michael occupies the first place in the angelic hierarchy.

About this opinion, there are divergences amongst the theologians, but, this opinion has the support of several Greek Fathers of the Church and seems to be corroborated by the Latin Liturgy, which refers to the glorious Archangel as the“Princeps militiae coelestis quem honorificant coelorum cives” – “Prince of the celestial hosts, honored by all inhabitants of Heaven” and by the Greek liturgy, which calls him “Archistrátegos“, that is, “Mighty General”, or “Generalissimo”.

Mont St. Michel,
Normandy, France.

The great commentator of the Sacred Scriptures, Fr. Cornelius a Lapide, a Jesuit from the 16th-Century, writes:

“Many consider that Michael, due to his dignity and nature, and to his grace and glory, is the absolute first and the Prince of all Angels. And this is proved, first, by the book of Revelation (12, 7), where it is said that Michael fought against Lucifer and his Angels, resisting his arrogance with a cry full of humility: ‘Who is like God?’ Therefore, in the same way as Lucifer is the chief of the demons, Michael is the chief of the Angels, being the first among the Seraphim. Second, because the Church calls him Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, who is placed at the gates of Paradise. And it is in his name that we celebrate the Feast of All Angels. Third, because Michael is today exalted as the protector of the Church, as in olden days he was exalted as the protector of the Synagogue. Finally, four, because it is probable that Saint Michael is the Prince of all Angels and the first amongst the Seraphim, because Saint Basil says in his Homily De Angelis: ‘To you, O Michael, general of the Celestial Spirits, who, by his honor and dignity, is placed in front of all other Heavenly Spirits, to you I supplicate . . .”

The same thing is repeated by numerous other authors, Saint Robert Bellarmine included.

In the Middle Ages, Saint Michael was the special Patron of the Orders of Chivalry which defended Christendom against the Muslim danger.

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