Michaelmas - Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, 29 September
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,
Cast into Hell
Satan and all the evil spirits
which prowl about the world,
Seeking the ruin of souls.
From the Medieval Saints Yahoo Group:
The Dedication of Saint Michael the Archangel, Michaelmas Day
Hebrew "Mikha El," (Who is like unto God?), Venerated by Jews, Christians and Muslims
Commemorated September 29: the dedication of the sanctuary which was built on Monte Gargano in honor of the apparition of Saint Michael the Archangel. This feast is very ancient.
Also commemorated on May 8th a lesser feast is observed to commemorate the appearance of St. Michael on the summit of Mount Gargano in Apulia during the time of Pope Gelasius (492-6).
Devotion to Michael was common in the East during the fourth century and the Western Church began to observe the feast sometime in the fifth century. In the offertory anthem of the mass for the dead, St. Michael is charged with the care of all departed souls, "holy standard bearer, introduce them to the holy light, which thou didst promise of old to Abraham and to his seed."
St. Michael's Day, or Michaelmas is one of the Medieval Quarter days. The celebration was marked by harvest festivals, hospitality, costumes, music and dancing. Many popular traditions grew up around the day, which coincided with the end of harvest and the end of the fiscal year.
Patronage: champion of the Jewish people, against temptations, ambulance drivers, artists, bakers, bankers, banking, battle, boatmen, coopers, danger at sea, dying people, emergency medical technicians, EMTs, England, fencing, Germany, greengrocers, grocers, haberdashers, hatmakers, hatters, holy death, knights, mariners, milleners, paramedics, paratroopers, police officers, radiologists, radiotherapists, sailors, security forces, security guards, sick people, soldiers, Spanish police officers, storms at sea, swordsmiths, watermen, protector of the Nile
In art, he is shown as an angel with a sword raised, standing over the devil or a dragon; holding a balance, a pair of scales, which he uses to weigh the souls; "Quis ut Deus" is often inscribed on Saint Michael's shield.
St. Michael the Archangel
The Church has never canonized angels. If we pay liturgical honors to the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, we give them the title saint because they have always been in heaven.
All three archangels are now venerated in a common feast on September 29, which used to be St. Michael's feast alone. Because the new common feast seems to diminish his importance, let us consider him a little more at length in connection with his other feastday, the Apparition of St. Michael, formerly observed on May 8.
The name Michael means, of course, "Who is like God?" He is represented as perhaps the chief angel in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Several early apocryphal writings do the same. While these writings are not accepted as scriptures by the Church, they nevertheless testify to popular devotion to the "generalissimo" of the heavenly hosts.
Michael was regarded as the protector of the Israelites, especially in the days of their captivity in Babylon. "Michael, the great prince," the Old Testament prophet Daniel calls him, "guardian of your people." (Dn,12:1). In the New Testament Book of Revelation, St. John speaks prophetically of the ultimate victory of Michael and his regiments against the army of the great dragon, Satan. After a mighty struggle, Michael casts the enemy down to earth. (Rev.,12:7-9). Thus St. Michael, protector of Israel, was also hailed as the protector of the New Testament's People of God.
Churches dedicated to St. Michael in the Mideast date from as early as the fourth century. In the West, the cult of Michael became widespread, particularly after his alleged apparition around AD 500 in a cave in Mount Gargano, southeast Italy. The archangel revealed to the local bishop, St. Lawrence of Siponto, that he should erect a shrine there in honor of the archangel himself and all other angels. This St. Lawrence did, and the "Mount Santangelo" soon became a noted place of pilgrimage.
St. Michael also figures in the annals of Pope St. Gregory the Great. During the pestilence that struck Rome in the year 590, Gregory organized a great penitential procession about the streets of the Eternal City to beg God to withdraw the plague. Tradition says that when the march passed by the massive tomb of Emperor Hadrian, St. Michael appeared on its summit sheathing his sword, and the epidemic ceased. Today Hadrian's fortified tomb is called the Castel SantAngelo - Castle of the Holy Angel - and for centuries it has been topped by a statue of St. Michael, dressed in the armor of a Roman soldier, returning sword to scabbard. In Rome, therefore, St. Michael is considered both healer and defender.
The other major Western shrine of the Archangel is the famous Mont St. Michel, a rocky outcropping off the coast of Normandy, France, where the bishop of Avranches established a Benedictine monastery in AD 708; again, we are told, on the advice of the Archangel Michael. In Cornwall, too, near the city of Penzance, there is a little offshore island resembling Mont St. Michel, which in medieval times was likewise the site of a Benedictine monastery that became an English place of pilgrimage.
Pope Leo XIII had the soldier-angel in mind when he ordered that a prayer to St. Michael and several other prayers be recited by priest and faithful at the end of every low Mass. The date of this order was 1884 - an era in which Germany was engaged in a stern persecution of the Catholic Church. Vatican II cancelled the rule, but the invocation to the Archangel is still appropriate - indeed, necessary in our troubled times:
"St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do you, O prince of the heavenly host, by the divine power, thrust into hell Satan and the other evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls."
--Father Robert F. McNamara
In the middle ages, Michaelmas(se) celebrated the end of the harvest. It marked the official end of the farming and accounting year. This was an important time, when manor books were closed out, rents paid, a new reeve (the chief officer of the village) was chosen, and storehouses stocked for the winter ahead. Celebration of this holiday traditionally was symbolized with "glofe, gees, and gyngeuer." The glove represented the open-handedness and generosity of the lord of the village, goose eaten for good luck in the coming year ("If you eat goose on Michelmasse day, you will never want money all year"), and ginger, believed to provide protection against infection. The harvest feast paid the laborers for their boon work with meat, fish, ale and good bread.
More on St. Michael at:
Patron Saints Index - St. Michael
Women for Faith & Family - St. Michael and All Angels
Variations of St. Michael Prayer
Pictures of St. Michael
Recipe - Michaelmas Goose with Traditional Potato & Apple Stuffing
St. Michael's Mount, Cornwall
Skellig Michael, Ireland