St. Michael the Archangel

When I first converted to the Catholic faith, I was very uncomfortable with the prayer to St. Michael. In my mind, there was something strange (or rather, even stranger) about praying for the intercession of an angel over the intercession of the saints. Initially, I refused to participate in the prayer, which at my parish is said at the end of each Mass.

Eventually, though, I opted to take a childlike submission to the church's teachings for a short while, and that humility was greatly rewarded. Now, the prayer to St. Michael is one of the most commonly used tools in my arsenal against sin, and I have come to realize the power of his special place as one of the protectors of humanity.
 

Lifetime: Eternity
Region: Heaven & Earth
Patronages: Grocers; Mariners; Police; Soldiers
Iconograpy: Angel with a sword; Defeating Lucifer / a dragon; Scales
Feast Day: September 29 (with other Archangels)

Michael is one of only three named angels in scripture, and accordingly, along with the archangels Gabriel and Raphael (who share his feast day), is among the only angels whose intercession may be requested by name according to church teaching (though some Orthodox churches allow prayers to Uriel as well, who may be another archangel as attested in some non-Canonical sources). Many also pray for their guardian angel's intercession as well, which is allowed so long as no name is assigned to the angel.

Since Michael is a heavenly being who exists beyond the bounds of time, a traditional narrative of his life and miracles doesn't really work, so instead today I'm just going to list some interesting legends about the Great Prince.

Scripture

Michael is mentioned by name five times in the bible - three in Daniel, once in Jude, and finally in Revelations, where he and his angels defeat Satan once and for all in the final war. He may also appear other times in the bible as an unnamed angel, as older Old Testament writing did not include the names of angels.

Four Offices

As a messenger of God, prince of heaven, and leader of the army of God, Michael has four roles according to Catholic teaching:
  1. Spiritual Warrior. In Revelations, Michael and his army defeat the dragon that is Satan and all his forces, throwing them to the earth in the final days. However, this role isn't limited to literal arms battles - St. Michael is also invoked in spiritual warfare and for the repelling of demons, and even the battle against sin in our own hearts.
  2. Angel of Death. Upon our deaths, Michael arrives to assist our passing. He is an advocate for the dead, providing the soul a final chance for redemption.
  3. Weigher of Souls. At the time of the final judgment, St. Michael weighs the souls of the dead on his balanced scales, comparing each soul's virtuous deeds to their sins.
  4. Guardian of the Church. St. Michael was chosen to defend God's people in the Old Testament, and continues that role today as defender of the Church, the Pope, and the Blessed Sacrament.

The Defeat of Lucifer

In Revelations, Michael defeats Satan in the form of a dragon, and all of his army of demons and fallen angels. But according to tradition, that isn't the first time Michael stomped on the prince of lies. At the beginning of time, when Lucifer and his angels rebelled against God, it was Michael as the leader of God's army who stopped him. Michael defeated his brother angel and ejected him from heaven forever.

According to lore, however, as Lucifer was tossed into Hell, he landed butt-first into a thorny blackberry bush. Humiliated at his defeat and filled with rage, the now-fallen former angel spit on the bush, then stomped on it, breathed fire on it, peed on it, and cursed it forever, making its fruit poisonous. For that reason, Michaelmas (another name for the Feast of the Archangels on September 29) is also known as Poisoned Blackberry Day, and by some traditions is the last day where blackberries are eaten. This also gave rise to a tradition of baking a blackberry pie for Michaelmas.

Prayer to St. Michael 

Saint Michael the archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly hosts, by the power of God, cast into Hell Satan, and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

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