Saint Michael the archangel is celebrated by the Catholic Church on September 29 as well as on May 8. Instituted following the dedication of a fifth-century basilica in honor of Saint Michael, the feast on September 29 was subsequently repurposed to celebrate the three holy archangels: Michael, Raphael and Gabriel.
Who is Saint Michael the Archangel? Why celebrate the holy archangels? Learn all about this great feast.
According to Christian tradition, angels are spiritual creatures created by God. The term angel means “sent from God”, so they are heavenly messengers between God and men. Jesus, through his words, himself repeatedly affirmed the existence of angels: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)
The choir of angels is made up of nine classes of angels, arranged according to a specific hierarchy. Among them, the archangels exercise a special mission with men. Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church, reveals that it is the archangels who are responsible for "proclaiming the greatest mysteries".
Pope Francis defines the role of angels as follows: “angels and we have the same vocation: that of cooperating in God's project of salvation”. To participate in this plan, the three main archangels each have a specific mission, which we are given to know by reading the Bible.
The three main archangels - Saint Michael, Saint Raphael and Saint Gabriel - are revealed to us in the Bible. In the Old and New Testaments, the archangels are repeatedly sent by God to deliver messages and announce future events. These heavenly envoys each have a singular mission:
Saint Michael the archangel is presented in Revelations by Saint John, as well as in the book of Daniel as the one who fights the dragon - that is to say Satan - at the beginning and at the end of time: “Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.” (Revelations 12:7- 8). Thus, the tradition of the Catholic Church presents him as our protector and defender against demons, and calls him "prince of the celestial army."
Saint Gabriel the archangel, whose name means "God has shown himself strong" is the one who is responsible for announcing the coming of the Messiah and the redemption of Men, he is thus called the "heavenly messenger". He intervenes with the prophet Daniel, Zechariah and the Virgin Mary during the Annunciation: "In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David." (Luke 1:26-27)
Saint Raphael the archangel, whose name means "God saves" is presented in the book of Tobit. Taking the human appearance, he cures Tobit of his blindness, takes him under his protection during his journey and leads him to Sarah, who is destined to become his wife. For these reasons, Christians honor Saint Raphael as the "protector of travelers".
Saint Michael the archangel, whose name "Michael" - "Quis ut Deus?" in Latin - means "Who is like God?" is called "prince of angels", because he is the most beautiful and most powerful of the angels in heaven.
He is also called "leader of the heavenly legions", because of his decisive role in the fight against the forces of evil. He is also most often represented in the form of a winged knight defeating a dragon, that is to say the devil.
During a blessing of the statue of Saint Michael in the Vatican Gardens, Pope Francis defined his particular role as follows: "The Archangel Michael is struggling to restore divine justice. He defends the People of God from their enemies and especially from the enemy par excellence, the devil. And Saint Michael conquers because in him, it is God who acts".
The feast of the holy archangels, on September 29, owes its origin to the appearance of Saint Michael on Mount Gargano in Italy, on May 8, 492. A church was then built in honor of Saint Michael, on the place of his appearance. Thirty years later, the solemn dedication of this church, on September 29, was the occasion for the Catholic Church to officially institute this date as the feast of the three main holy archangels.
The celebration of the 3 archangels - Michael, Gabriel and Raphael - on September 29 is an opportunity for the Catholic Church to emphasize God, "creator of heaven and earth, of the visible and invisible universe" (Symbol of Nicaea Constantinople). Through them, it is all the angels of heaven that we celebrate, and it is the opportunity for us to meditate on their living presence in the whole history of our salvation.
Angels, despite being spiritual beings, are God's creatures in the same way as we are. They precede us in the contemplation and worship of God. At each Mass, at the time of the Eucharist, they join us in glorifying and praising God. They constitute “the immense crowd of God's worshippers” (Roman Missal).
To celebrate the archangels is an opportunity for us to imitate them: in their image, let us be worshippers and messengers of God!
The first reading of the Mass of September 29th honors Saint Michael the Archangel, by reading the Apocalypse of Saint John: “Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” (Revelations 12:7- 8).
The reading of the Gospel of Saint John emphasizes the multitude of angels, praising God with us: “He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:51)
Devotion to Saint Michael the Archangel first spread in the East during the 4th century, before spreading to the West at the end of the 5th century. In 492, following its appearance, a sanctuary dedicated to the prince of the archangels was built in Italy. The protection of Rome from the plague in 590 is also attributed to Saint Michael.
In France, devotion to Saint Michael developed under the reign of Clovis: at that time he was attributed the title of "prince of the Frankish people" and "celestial protector". In the 8th century, the archangel appeared at Mont Tombe - now Mont-Saint-Michel - to demand the construction of an oratory. The tradition of the warriors was then to ask for the blessing of Saint Michael before fighting. The victory of Charles Martel against the Saracens is also attributed to the help of Saint Michael!
Devotion to Saint Michael is only spreading, especially through Joan of Arc who heard his voice in Domrémy. The prince of the angels also appeared to the children of Fatima and taught them this prayer: “My God, I believe, I love, I hope and I love you. I beg your forgiveness for those who do not believe, who do not worship, who do not hope, who do not love you. ”
Today the secondary patron of France, Saint Michael is the defender of the eldest daughter of the Church, which is why we do not hesitate to beg for his protection!
“Lord, deign to remember that in the painful circumstances of our history, you have made the Archangel Saint Michael the instrument of your mercy towards us. We cannot forget it; that is why we implore you to preserve for our country the protection with which you once surrounded it by the ministry of this victorious Archangel. And you, O Saint Michael, Prince of the Heavenly Militias, come to us, we call you. You are the Guardian Angel of the Church and of France; it was you who inspired and supported Joan of Arc in her liberating mission. Come to our rescue again and save us! We put our people, our families, our parishes, the whole of France, under your very special protection. We have the firm hope that you will not let the people who have been entrusted to you die. May God raise up saints among us! Through them, O holy Archangel, make the Church triumphant in the struggle she supports against unbridled hell and, through the Virtue of the Holy Spirit, establish the reign of Christ over France and the world, so that the peace of heaven may remain there forever. Amen.”
“Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for Us, for the Church and for France!”
“Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our help against the malice and the snares of the devil. That God exercises his dominion over him, we beg you. And you, Prince of the Heavenly Militia, push back into hell by the divine force of Satan and the other evil spirits who lurk in the world in order to lose souls. Amen.”
Leon XIII - 1884
Saint Michael the Archangel, leader of the heavenly legions, is your defender against the forces of evil! Do not hesitate to invoke him and pray to him to get his protection. Hozana offers you different prayers, paths and paths of consecration: