The background, customs and some recipes for the Feast.
|St Michael Archangel|
|There are seven Archangels in all, but only the three mentioned in Sacred Scripture are commemorated liturgically; St. Gabriel's Feast is on 24 March, and St. Raphael's Feast is on 24 October (the Guardian Angels are remembered on 2 October. The other archangels, whom we know from the Book of Enoch, are Uriel, Raguel, Sariel, and Jeramiel.) Today, though, we honor St. Michael the Archangel, whose very name in Hebrew means, "Who is Like God." St. Michael is described in the Golden Legend, written in A.D. 1275 by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, thus:|
For like as Daniel witnesseth, he shall arise and address in the time of Antichrist against him, and shall stand as a defender and keeper for them that be chosen. [Daniel 10:13, 12]Expounding on St. Michael's final victory over the Antichrist, the Golden Legend continues:
The fourth victory is that the archangel Michael shall have of Antichrist when he shall slay him. Then Michael, the great prince, shall arise, as it is said Danielis xii.: “He shall arise for them that be chosen as a helper and a protector, and shall strongly stand against Antichrist.” And after, as the Gloss saith: “Antichrist shall feign him to be dead, and shall hide him three days,” and after, he shall appear saying that he is risen from death to life, and the devils shall bear him by art magic, and shall mount up into the air, and all the people shall marvel and worship him. And at the last he shall mount up on the Mount of Olivet, and when he shall be in a pavilion, in his siege [seat], entered into that place where our Lord ascended, Michael shall come and shall slay him. Of which victory is understood, after St. Gregory, that which is said in the Apocalypse. The battle is made in heaven.St. Michael is our warrior against the Evil One, and is the one we call on in times of temptation, especially with our Prayer to St. Michael:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into Hell, Satan and all the other evil spirits, who wander throughout the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.This great champion of Israel has made many important appearances throughout the years. In A.D. 590, during the reign of Pope Gregory, a great pestilence swept through Rome. During a procession and litanies led by the Holy Father there, St. Michael appeared over the Castel Sant'Angelo -- a building which was formerly Hadrian's tomb, but which was converted to papal use, connected to the Vatican by a long tunnel. A statue of St. Michael sits atop the building today.
Mont St. Michel was built to St. Michael's honour off the coast of Normandy, France. Our warrior Saint is said to have appeared there in 708 to St. Aubert, Bishop of Avranches.
He also, along with SS. Margaret and Catherine, appeared to St. Joan of Arc (d. 1431) when she was thirteen years old, encouraging her to assist Charles VII in defeating the English. She later told her judges, "I saw them with these very eyes, as well as I see you."
St. Michael is patron of knights, policemen, soldiers, paramedics, ambulance drivers, etc., and also danger at sea, for the sick, and of a holy death. He is usually depicted in art carrying a sword and/or shield, battling Satan.
CustomsAt this time of year, the Aster (Aster nova-belgii) blooms, and it has become known as the Michaelmas Daisy. The Michaelmas Daisy comes in many colors, from white to pink to purple. An old verse goes:
The Michaelmas Daisies, among dede weeds,(The Feast of SS. Simon and Jude is 28 October) An old custom surrounds Michaelmas Daisies; one plucks off the petals one by one thus: pull a petal while saying ""S/he loves me," then pull of the next while saying "S/he loves me not," and repeat until all petals are gone. The words one intones while pulling off the last petal lets one know if one's love is requited.
As to foods, geese were, at least at one time, plentiful during this time of year, so roast goose dinners are traditional (eating them on this day is said to protect against financial hardship, according to Irish and English folk belief). It was also the time (at least in Ireland) when the fishing season ended, the hunting season began, and apples were harvested, so eating apples today with that goose would be a nice touch.
Roast Goose with Apples (serves 8)When you cut up your apples, cross-section a few and show your children how the 5 seeds inside the 5-pointed star found inside represent the Five Wounds of Christ. Another fun thing to do with apples is to make those little apple dolls that always resemble old people:
Apple DollsFor the Irish, the next food du jour is St. Michael's Bannock, a scone-like bread, cooked in a frying pan.
St. Michael's BannockAccording to an old Irish folk tale, blackberries were supposed to have been harvested and used up by this date, too, since it is told to children that when Satan was kicked out of Heaven, he landed in a bramble patch -- and returns each year to curse and spit on the fruits of the plant he landed on, rendering them inedible thereafter. So a dessert with blackberries would be perfect.
Blackberry Crumble (serves 4)Finally, I have to tell you about a charming Bavarian Michaelmas tradition from Augsburg, as described by Dorothy Gladys Spicer's "The Festivals of Western Europe" (1958):
On September 29, Saint Michael's Day, the city of Augsburg holds an annual autumn fair to which hundreds of peasants from far and near come for trade and pleasure. Chief among the day's attractions is the hourly appearance of figures representing the Archangel and the Devil. The figures are built in the foundation of Perlach Turm, or Tower, called Tura in local dialect. This slender structure, which rises to a height of two-hundred-and-twenty-five-feet and stands next to the Peter's Kirche, north of the Rathaus, originally was a watch tower. In 1615 the watch tower was heightened and converted into a belfry.
Note: "Michaelmas" is pronounced "MICKel-mus."
Today is also one of the 4 English "Quarter Days," days which fall around the Equinoxes or Solstices and mark the beginnings of new natural seasons (i.e., Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall) and which were used in medieval times to mark "quarters" for legal purposes, such as settling debts. The other days like this are: Lady Day (the Feast of the Annunciation) on March 25, the Feast of St. John on June 24, and Christmas on December 25.
From Modern History TV - What is Michaelmas?