The Feast of Saint Michael Archangel is celebrated today, 29 September. One of the most heroic angelic warriors, Michael was the brave soul who overcame the evil forces of Satan in the ultimate “war in heaven,” as it is recounted in the New Testament’s Book of Revelations.
Veneration of the Archangel Michael began the early centuries of the common era, with the oldest recorded shrine dedicated to him at Gargano, Italy, dating to around 490. The celebration of the feast day grew throughout the Middle Ages, and its close proximity to the fall equinox meant that festivities usually incorporated references to or connections with the harvest. Added to these connotations was that the arrival of the Feast Day of Saint Michael Archangel also signaled the arrival of the cooler temperatures typical of the fall season, giving rise to the popular expression that “For Saint Michael, heat goes into the heavens.”
Guido Reni, Saint Michael Tramples Satan, c. 1635. Santa Maria della Concezione, Rome, Italy.
Luca Giordano, Archangel Michael and Fallen Angels, 1666. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria.
Jacopo Vignali, Archangel Michael Freeing Souls from Purgatory, 17th century. San Gaetano, Florence, Italy.