Thursday, September 29, 2016 Feast of St. Michael
The anniversary of the dedication of St. Michael the Archangel's basilica outside of Rome by Pope Boniface II in 530 A.D. affords the Church the opportunity to honor one of its most significant saints. Tradition holds that Michael is the heavenly spirit who cast Satan and his minions into Hell after their revolt from God. As the "Governor of Heaven" (Praepositus Paradisi), he is ranked only below the Mother of God in the Confiteor. The Roman church also identifies him as the angel whom St. John saw in heaven standing near the altar of God and offering the prayers of the saints like an odor of sweetness (see the offertory blessing of incense at a High Mass). He is also singled out in the Requiem Mass as the banner-bearer who leads the departed to purgatory and heaven (see offertory prayers). Finally, Michael's victory over the devil's army renders him not only the patron saint of souls, but of Christian soldiers. All of this leads to the conclusion that Michael is one of our most potent allies and helps us see why the Roman rite has traditionally venerated him with such affection and respect. Consequently, Michaelmas (pronounced "mikk-el-mes") was one of the great public holidays and religious feasts of early and medieval Europe. Saint Michael's parades, Michael's fairs, Michael's Plays, etc. would in many places constitute the climax of autumn harvest celebrations. Michaelmas also coincided with the "quarter days" in Northern Europe, one of the four times in the year when free men would sit in court, make laws, and pay rents.