Thursday, September 29, 2022

Michael the Archangel – Defender of the Faithful


Hubert Gerhard, Saint Michael Overcoming the Devil
German, 1588
Munich, Church of Saint Michael

This essay was first published in 2011 and revised in 2016 and now, in 2022, I am revising and republishing it.  A great deal of new material has appeared on the subject of Saint Michael the Archangel in recent years,  in addition to updated, more detailed releases of the images I originally included.  Moreover, an image of this great archangel has figured prominently in international news since the end of February.   It is, therefore, time to revise and republish this essay.
September 2022




War broke out in heaven;
Michael and his angels battled against the dragon.
The dragon and its angels fought back,
but they did not prevail
and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
The huge dragon, the ancient serpent,
who is called the Devil and Satan,
who deceived the whole world,
was thrown down to earth,
and its angels were thrown down with it.”

(Revelation 12:7-9)









Three great or "arch" angels, named in the Bible, are celebrated on September 29th: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. But this is only in recent decades. Up to 1964 the day belonged to Michael alone.

Of the three archangels named in the Bible Michael is the one who has had the least contact with human beings. Where Gabriel and Raphael have acted in human history as divine messengers or healers, Michael has appeared only to visionaries, to the authors of the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation.

Andrea della Robbia, Saint Michael Weighing Souls
Italian, c.1475
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art


His appearance is one of great power, terrifying even. He is the leader of the heavenly armies, the victor over the dragon, that symbol of Satan and evil. He is the defender of Israel and, by extension, of Christianity and Christian people. He is the angel who weighs the souls of the deceased in his finely balanced scales.

Even his name, Mich-a-el, portrays his character. Its translation is ‘who is like God?’. It is both a question and a challenge. It is the rallying cry of the angelic host in their battle with the rebel angels. It is also a rebuke to Satan's lie to Adam and Eve in Eden “You will be like gods” (Genesis 3:5). Expressed in Latin as “Quis ut Deus?” it is sometimes shown on Michael's armor or on his shield.

Willem Rottermondt, Saint Michael
German, 1750
Bonn, Koblenzer Tor



In spite of his elusiveness, his terrible presence, his aura of mystery, Michael has left his footprint on virtually the whole map of western Europe, from Skellig Michael in Ireland at its extreme western edge to St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, Mont St. Michel in Normandy, to Boulevard St. Michel in Paris to Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome to Monte Gargano in the Apulia region to Maidan Square in Kyiv.  The latter has received quite a bit of media attention since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  

Saint Michael the Archangel, Patron and Protector of Kyiv
Ukrainian, c. 2002
Kyiv, Maidan (Independence) Square, Lach Gates Monument



He is also a patron of the military and of police.  Indeed, it is Michael who is the angelic patron of the NYPD officers killed on September 11, 2001.

New York Police Department Memorial Poster for the officers killed on
September 11, 2001



In addition, he is a patron of both France and Germany and of Ukraine and Russia. And, in the past, his feast of September 29th was known as Michaelmas. Once upon a time it was a holy day of obligation.1  

In the secular world also it was an extremely important day, as for instance, in the English calendar. One of the English ‘quarter days’, it was the day on which rents used to be due, court terms began and universities opened their academic year.

In art, Michael is primarily represented in three ways: as a member of the heavenly court, as the leader of the armies of Heaven and as the angel who weighs the souls of the dead against the deeds of their earthly life. Sometimes the types overlap.  


Although these three are the main iconographic types of the images of Saint Michael, there are several others.  Among these are:  Saint Michael as patron of France and Michael as Worshiper.


Michael as a Member of the Heavenly Court

In Byzantine art, and later in the art of Eastern Christianity, Michael often appears in the dress of a member of the court of heaven, dressed as one would have been for the Imperial Byzantine court.


Saint Michael the Archangel
Part of a Consular Diptych
Bzyantine (Constantinople), c. 525-550
London, British Museum


Master of the Icon of the Archangel Michael, Saint Michael the Archangel
Byzantine, 10th Century
Venice, Treasury of the Basilica of San Marco



Saint Michael
Ivory Casket Fragment
Byzantine, 10th Century
London, Trustees of the British Museum



St. John Chryostom, Emperor Nicophorus III and Saint Michael
from Homilies of St. John Chrysostom
Byzantine (Constantinople), 1074-1078 or 1078-1081
 Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Coislin 79, fol. 2v



Theotokos with Michael and Gabriel
Byzantine, c. 1180s
Monreale, Cathedral, Main Apse



Icon of Saint Michael
Russian (Novgorod), c. 1460-1500
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum


Icon of Angels Gabriel and Michael
Russian, 18th Century
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum



Predominantly a theme of the earlier years, in which parts of Western Europe still looked to Byzantium, this theme of Michael as courtier mostly disappeared during the Middle Ages in the West and reappeared at the beginning of the Renaissance.  His satanic adversary appears only as a kind of attribute in these images. In these pictures, Michael is as likely to wear his armor, or at least parts of it, as he is to wear courtier's robes.

Guido Bigarelli, Saint Michael
Italian, 13th century
Pistoia, Church of San Michele in Cioncio


Cimabue, Michael from Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saint Francis and Four Angels (Detail)
Italian, c. 1278-1280
Assisi, Church of San Francesco, Lower Church



Luca di Tomme, Saint Michael
Italian, c.1360
Amiens, Musée de Picardie



Michael Among the Other Saints
From a Book of Hours
French (Possibly Anjou), 1440
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 157, fol. 203v



This theme seems to have been especially prominent in the decades just before and after the year 1500 in both Italy and the North.


Lorenzo da Viterbo, Madonna and Child with Saint Peter and Saint Michael
Italian, 1472
Rome, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica


Master of the Legend of Saint Ursula, Madonna and Child with a Donor Presented by Saint Michael
Flemish, c.1480-1490
Private Collection



Sandro Botticelli, Madonna and Child with Angels and Saints (Pala di San Barnaba)
Italian, c.1488
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi



Domenico Ghirlandaio, Madonna and Child in Glory with Saints
Italian, c. 1490-1496
Munich, Bayerische Gemäldesammlungen, Alte Pinakothek



Jean Hey, Saint Michael and the King of France
 from Statuts de L'Ordre de Saint Michel
French (Moulins), c. 1493-1494
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 14363, fol. 3r




Luca Signorelli. Assumption of the Virgin with Saints Michael and Benedict
Italian, c. 1493-1496
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art



Andrea Mantegna, Virgin of Victory
Italian, c. 1495-1496
Paris, Musée du Louvre



Pietro Perugino, Madonna and Child in Glory with Saints
Italian, c. 1495-1496
Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale



Innocenzo da Imola, Saint Bernard Presented to the Madonna and Child by Saint Michael
Italian, c.1500-1550
Chambery, Musée des Beaux-Arts



Andrea del Sarto, Saints Michael and John Gualbert
Italian, c. 1528
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi


Benvenuto Tisi, called il Garofalo, Madonna and Child with Saints
Italian, c. 1530-1532
Rome, Galleria Borghese



His role as warrior is sometimes combined with his role in the heavenly court.

Saint Michael Subduing the Dragon
French, c. 1425-1550
Paris, Musée du Louvre



Saints Catherine of Alexandria and Michael
From a Life of St. Catherine
Dutch (s-Hertogenbosch), c, 1475-1500
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Neerlandais 129, fol. 1r



Hans Memling, Saint Michael
Flemish, c. 1479
London, The Wallace Collection



Master of the Legend of Saint Ursula, Saint Michael with a Donor
Flemish, c. 1480-1490
Bruges, Museum Onze-Lieve-Vrouw ter Potterie


Bernardo Zenale, Saint Michael the Archangel
Italian, c. 1490
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi



Saints George, Michael and John the Baptist
German (Upper Rhine), c. 1500-1525
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts



Michael as Warrior and as General of the Heavenly Armies


Predominantly a theme of the Western Church, Michael appears most frequently as the armed warrior, clad in armor. 

Sometimes he is simply seen as the soldier, not involved in combat or shown in repose after his battle.


 
Saint Michael the Archangel
Byzantine (Constantinople), c. 1086-1215
Venice, Basilica of San Marco, Treasury


Vincenzo Foppa, Saint Michael
Italian, 1460
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum



Piero della Francesca, Saint Michael
Italian, 1469
London, National Gallery



Perugino, Saint Michael
Italian, c.1499
London, National Gallery


Saint Michael
Flemish, 16th Century
Bruges, Museum Onze-Lieve-Vrouw ter Potterie



St. Michael
French, c.1500
Paris, Musée du Louvre



Jean Bourdichon, Saint Michael
From the Grandes heures d'Anne de Bretagne
French (Tours), c.1503-1508
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 9474, fol. 163v



Workshop of Patanazzi, Archangel Michael
Italian, c. 1580-1590
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum




But, he is most often seen in the act of combat against the dragon (symbol of Satan) or against a demon (again symbolic of Satan).  These images fall into two types.  The first, and earlier of the two, is that of single combat between Michael and his adversary.


Saint Michael Overcoming the Dragon
French, c. 1125-1150
Paris, Musée du Louvre


Manuscript images of the subject frequently come from illustrations of the Book of Revelations, also called the Apocalypse, and from commentaries on it, such as the Commentary by the Spanish monk known as Beatus of Liebana.  They also frequently appear in prayer books, such as Books of Hours.


Saint Michael Overcoming the Dragon
From a Book of Hours
German (Bamberg), c. 1204-1219
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 739, fol. 146v
This little image really makes me smile.  We are so used to later pictures of Saint Michael in which he is wearing full plate armor that it comes as a surprise to see this image of Michael wearing the much simpler armor of the earlier middle ages.  Michael here wears chainmail armor, including a coif of chainmail and a high crowned early helmet.  You can compare this to just about every other image of Michael in plate armor that will follow below.


Saint Michael Overcoming the Dragon
from a Psalter
German (Franconia), c. 1225-1250
Paris, Bibliotheque naationale de France
MS Latin 17961, fol. 62



Michael Overcoming the Dragon
From the Liber floridus by Lambert de Saint-Omer
French (North French), c.1250-1275
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 8865, fol. 39r


Saint Michael Overcoming the Dragon
From Vies des saints
French (Paris), c. 1325-1350
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 185, fol. 259v



Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Saint Michael Overcoming the Dragon
Italian, c. 1330-1335
Asciano, Museo d'Arte Sacra


Giovanni di Benedetto and collaborators, Saint Micheal Overcoming the Dragon
From a Missal
Italian (Milan), c.1385-1390
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 757, fol. 357v



Master of the Berry Apocalypse, Michael Fighting Demons
From the Berry Apocalypse
French (Paris), c. 1410-1420
New  York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 133, fol. 37v


Alabaster carving. Saint Michael Overcoming the Dragon
English, c.1430-1470
London, Victoria and Albert Museum


Master of Marguerite of Orleans, Saint Michael Overcoming the Dragon
From the Hours of Marguerite d'Orleans
French (Rennes), c.1430
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 1156 B, fol. 165


Saint Michael Overcoming the Dragon
From the Hours of Rene of Anjou
French (Paris), c. 1435
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 1156A, fol. 77r



Gold Scrolls Group, Michael Fighting Demons
From a Book of Hours
Flemish (Bruges), c. 1435-1445
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS W 3, fol. 163v


Saint Michael Overcoming the Dragon
From the Hours of Louis of Savoy
French (Savoy), c. 1445-1460
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 9473, fol. 166



Saint Michael Overcoming the Dragon
German, c. 1450
London, Victoria and Albert Museum


Follower of Jean Colombe, Saint Michael Overcoming the Dragon
From a Book of Hours
French (Bourges), c. 1455-1465
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 430, fol. 208v



Master of Adelaide of Savoy, Saint Michael Overcoming the Demon
From a Book of Hours
French (Loire Valley), c. 1455-1465
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 1067, fol. 2r
This page is a veritable feast of angels.  They appear amid the decorative elements in the borders.  Also, in addition to the primary scene of Michael overcoming the Devil, there is a secondary picture of Michael performing the same feat, but this time with the scales of Judgment instead of with the sword.



The Rambures Master, Michael Overcoming Demons
From a Book of Hours
French (Amiens), c 1455-1465
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 194, fol. 130v


Miguel Ximenez, Saint Michael Overcoming the Dragon
Part of an altarpiece of the Pieta, Saint Michael and Saint Catherine
Spanish, c. 1475-1485
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado


Chief Associate of Master Francois, Michael Overcoming the Dragon
From a Book of Hours
French (Paris), c. 1480-1495
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 231, fol. 198r


Michael Overcoming the Dragon
From the Statutes of the Order of Saint Michel
French (Paris), 1490
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 20, fol. 41r


Michael Overcoming the Dragon
Flemish, c. 1500
Bruges, Museum Onze-Lieve-Vrouw ter Potterie


Follower of Jean Pichore, Michael Overcoming a Demon
From a Book of Hours
French (Paris), c. 1500
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 74 G 22, fol. 195r


Jean Bourdichon, Saint Michael Overcoming the Dragon
From the Hours of Frederic of Aragon
French (Tours), 1501-1504
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 10532, fol. 358r


Gerard David, Saint Michael Overcoming the Demons
Flemish, c.1510
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum



Hieronymus Wierix, Quis Sicut Deus
Flemish, c. 1619
London, Trustees of the British Museum
"Quis Sicut Deus?" translates the same as "Quis Ut Deus?" or "Mich-a-el?" which is "Who Is Like God?". This is Michael's challenge and also where he gets the name that humans know him by.



Two of the most famous images of this single combat type are two paintings by Raphael (himself named after another of the archangels) dated fifteen years apart.

Raphael, Saint Michael Overcoming the Dragon
Italian, 1503
Paris, Musée du Louvre


Raphael, Saint Micheal Overcoming the Demon
Italian, 1518
Paris, Musée du Louvre



This second Raphael painting (above) is such a perfect representation of the battle, full of great energy and twisting motion, that it became the model for reverberations in many other pictures in various media right up to the twentieth century.

Jacques Callot, September 29, Saint Michael the Archangel
From the print series:  Les Images de tous les saints et saintes de l'annee
French, c, 1632-1635
London, Trustees of the British Museum
While not as dynamic as the Raphael paintings, this little engraving by Jacques Callot hints at the energy of battle more than the works of his northern predecessors.  The way in which the demon grasps the shaft of the spear that has pierced him suggests a fierce energy coiled to spring and continue the fight.



Guido Reni, Saint Michael Overcoming Satan
Italian, 1635
Rome, Church of Santa Maria della Consolazione



Ignacio de Ries, Saint Michael Overcoming Satan
Spanish, 1640s
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art



Juan de Valdes Leal, Saint Michael Overcoming Satan
Spanish, c. 1656
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado


Luca Giordano, Saint Michael Overcoming Satan
Italian, 1666
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum


Domenico Corvi, Saint Michael Overcoming Satan
Italian, 1758
Rome, Church of Santissima Trinita dei Monti


Eugene Delacroix, Saint Michael Overcoming Satan
French, c. 1854-1861
Paris, Church of Saint-Sulpice

Emmanuel Fremiet, Saint Michael Overcoming the Dragon
French, 1895
Paris, Musée d'Orsay



Eric Gill, Christmas Card
English, 1918
London, Trustees of the British Museum

The 1918 and 1924 dates of these two images by the English artist, Eric Gill, suggest that they likely reflect some of the ethos of the period just following the end of the First World War.  There was an atmosphere of triumphant exhaustion on the part of the victors of that war, especially in France and England.  Gill may easily have seen the end of the war as an analogy for the defeat of the fallen angels by Michael and the heavenly hosts.


Eric Gill, Saint Michael and the Dragon
English, 1924
London, Trustees of the British Museum



The second type of combat image is that of Michael as the general of the whole Host of Heaven.  These images are frequently known as "The Fall of the Rebel Angels".  These pictures tend to begin appearing at a later period than the images of Michael as courtier or as solo warrior.  

Fall of the Rebel Angels
From the Psalter-Hours of Yolande de Soissons
French, c. 1280-1290
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 729, fol. 404v


Boucicaut Master, Fall of the Rebel Angels
From De Proprietatibus rerum by Barthelemy l'Anglais
French (Paris), c. 1400-1425
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 9141, fol. 17v


Spinello Aretino, Saint Michael and the Heavenly Host
Italian, c. 1408-1410
London, National Gallery

Master of Zafra, Fall of the Rebel Angels
Spanish, c. 1495-1500
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado



Albrecht Durer, Saint Michael and the Angelic Host Fighting the Dragon
From the Apocalypse Series
German, 1498
London, Trustees of the British Museum



Like Raphael, Domenico Beccafumi did two different versions of the Fall of the Rebel Angels in the 1520s.

Domeico Baccafumi, Fall of the Rebel Angels
Italian, c. 1520s
Siena, Pinacoteca Nazionale


Domenico Beccafumi, Fall of the Rebel Angels
Italian, c.1528
Siena, Church of San Niccolo al Carmine



Frans Floris, Fall of the Rebel Angels
Flemish, 1554
Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten


Peter Paul Rubens also did two paintings of the same subject matter.

Peter Paul Rubens, Fall of Rebel Angels
Flemish, c. 1619-1623
Munich, Bayerisches Gemäldesammlungen, Alte Pinakothek

Peter Paul Rubens, Fall of the Rebel Angels
Flemish, 1620
Brussels, Koninklijke Museum voor Schoene Kunsten van Belgie






Michael as Prover of Souls


“At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince,
guardian of your people;
It shall be a time unsurpassed in distress
since the nation began until that time.
At that time your people shall escape,
everyone who is found written in the book.
Many of those who sleep
in the dust of the earth shall awake;
Some to everlasting life,
others to reproach and everlasting disgrace. “
(Daniel 12:1-2)

It is through his position of warrior and defender of heaven that Michael is the angel who examines the souls of the dead, weighing them in balance scales to determine their ultimate destination. This action is usually, although not always, shown as taking place in the context of the Last Judgment.


Last Judgment and Michael Weighing Souls
From the Psaltar of St. Louis and of Blanche of Castille
French (Paris), c.1225
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Arsenal 1186, fol. 169v


Saint Michael Weighing Souls
From the Shaftesbury Psalter
English, c. 1225-1250
London, British Library
MS Lansdowne 383, fol.168v

The Syon Cope
English, c. 1300-1320
London, Victoria and Albert Museum

Detail from the Syon Cope
English, c. 1300-1320
London, Victoria and Albert Museum


Saint Michael Judging Souls (Evil Souls)
 From the Pelerinage de l'ame by Guillaume de Degulleville
French (Rennes), c. 1425-1450
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 376, fol. 90v
One can almost hear the snarling of the demons as they await the moment when they can take the souls of the evildoers to their punishment.


Michael judging Souls (Good Souls)
From the Pelerinage de l'ame by Guillaume de Degulleville
French (Rennes), c. 1425-1450
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 376, fol. 91r
In the case of these souls who lived a good life on earth, angels will escort them to Heaven.




Rogier Van der Weyden, Saint Michael Weighing Souls
Center Panel of the Last Judgment Altarpiece
Flemish, c. 1446-1452
Beaune, Musée de l'Hotel Dieu





Hans Memling, Saint Michael Weighing Souls
 Center Panel of the Last Judgment Altarpiece
Flemish, c. 1467-1471
Gdansk, Muzeum Narodowe



Biagio d'Antonio Tucci, Saint Michael Weighing Souls
Italian, 1476
Avignon, Musée du Petit Palais


This subject seems to have gone into abeyance during the years following the Reformation, which began in 1517.  Later representations are few.


 
Anglican Cope, Saint Michael Overcoming the Dragon
Design Possibly by Sir J. Ninian Comper
Embroidery by the Society of the Sisters of Bethany
English, c.1900
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts




Two additional groups of images of Saint Michael stand out. These are:

Michael as Patron of France

Saint Michael is a patron of both France and Germany.  As patron of France the images of Michael center around the apparitions to Saint Joan of Arc.  Saint Joan reported that her task of freeing France from the English was announced to her through several apparitions of three saints, Michael, Margaret (of Antioch) and Catherine (of Alexandria).  The subject has been most frequent in the last 200 or so years.  The earliest example I uncovered dates to 1843.  At this point in time Joan was not yet a saint.  She was canonized in 1920.

Hermann Anton Stilke, Apparition of Saints Catherine and Michael to Joan of Arc
German, 1843
Saint Petersburg, Hermitage Museum



Jules Bastien-Lepage, Joan of Arc
French, 1879
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
This has been and remains one of the most popular paintings in the Met. The three saints are presented as vaporous figures in the upper left corner. Only Michael, clad in golden armor, is easily seen.



Pierre-Gustave Dagrant, Saints Michael and Joan of Arc
French, c. 1890-1915
Merignac, Church of Saint Pierre


Eugene Samuel Grasset, Joan of Arc and Saint Michael
Design for pair of windows
French, 1893
Paris, Musée d'Orsay



Rene Marie Castaing, Joan of Arc Window
French, c. 1900-1925
Pau, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Here Michael occupies the central position among the three saints in the upper portion of the left side, which depicts Joan's visions.  The central panel depicts Joan in her armor as the champion of France.  The right side depicts her death at the hands of an ecclesiastical court in Normandy, which at that time was in the possession of the English.



Saints Genevieve, Michael and Joan of Arc
French, c. 1900-1925
Trans-la-Foret, Church of Saints Peter and Paul
These three saints are among the most prominent of the patron saints of France.

Gaston Bussiere, Joan of Arc, the Predestined
French, 1909
Macon, Musée des Ursulines


Lionel Royer, Saints Michael, Catherine and Margaret Appearing to Joan of Arc
French, c. 1911-1918
Domremy-la-Pucelle, Basilica of Saint Joan of Arc
In this rather charming painting from Joan's home village, we see the three saints offering her some of the accoutrements of her mission.  Saint Margaret of Antioch offers a sword, Saint Michael offers her the banner under which she campaigned and Saint Catherine of Alexandria offers her a helmet.


L. Barillet and J. Le Chevallier, Saints Joan of Arc and Michael
French, c. 1920-1925
Belleme, Church of Saint-Sauveur
This patriotic window was designed around the time of Joan's canonization and draws a parallel between the call she received from Saint Michael in 1424 with the call to arms of August 1914.  In the bottom panels we see the soldiers of 1914, dressed in the extremely inappropriate uniforms with which they entered the First World War as they march to a fate that was as inevitable as Joan's own.



Michael As Worshiper

In these images Michael appears, not as a courtier or a warrior or a general, but as a member of the faithful, affirming by his actions that, like us, he too is a created being, acknowledging God as the Supreme Being and source of life for His creations.  Michael is sometime depicted alone, but in most instances he is depicted as one of a group.  The group may consist of other angels, especially of other archangels, or it may be made up of other saints, indeed it may be the entire court of heaven.  However, unlike more generalized pictures depicting the heavenly court, in the pictures I am offering for your attention, Michael is conspicuously positioned and frequently shown in his armor.

Jean Colombe and collaborators, Christ and the Virgin Enthroned in Heaven
From the Hours of Anne of France
French (Bourges), 1473
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 677, fol. 236r
Michael can be seen standing at the far left of the heavenly throne.


Saint Michael, Archangels and Seraphim in Prayer
From a Prayer Book
French (Paris), 1485-1495
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS H 3, fol. 157r


Federico Zuccaro, Archangels Adoring the Trinity
Italian, c.1594
Rome, Church of the Gesù, Chapel of the Angels


Philippe van Mallery, Saints Michael, Augustine, John Chrysostom and Norbert Adoring the Eucharist in a Monstance
Flemish, c. 1608-before 1639
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum



Johann-Heinrich Schoenfeld, Holy Trinity Adored by Angels and Saints
German, 1640
Paris, Musée du Louvre



Louis LeNain, Saint Michael Dedicating His Weapons to the Virgin and Child
French, c. 1640
Nevers, Church of Saint-Pierre


Carlo Maratti, Saints Michael, Luke, Julian, Peter and Paul Adoring the Holy Face
Italian, c. 1670
Monterotondo (Lazio), Cathedral, Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene



Corrado Giacinto, Adoration of the Trinity
Italian, 1744
Rome, Church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme



Louis Comfort Tiffany, Victory in Heaven Window
American, c. 1895-1920
New York, Episcopal Church of St. Michael


For me, this magnificent angel has a personal side. September 29th is my birthday. And, had I been a boy, I would have been named Michael in his honor and in memory of my mother’s baby brother who died at age 2. As it was, I was named, Margaret, in honor of both my grandmothers. However, I have not forgotten Michael; he is one of my own patrons and the source of my confirmation name of Michelle.



Louis Comfort Tiffany, Saint Michael
Central Panels of the Victory in Heaven Window
American, c. 1895-1920
New York, Episcopal Church of St. Michael



We would do well to honor Michael with the prayer that used to be recited by everyone at the end of every Mass:

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 host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who roam about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen.

© M. Duffy, 2011. 2016. Revised and republished 2022.

______________________________________________________
1. Holweck, Frederick. "St. Michael the Archangel." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 26 Sept. 2016.  
<http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10275b.htm>.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A very happy and blessed birthday! thank you for your Blog❤️