Michaelmas (1) : A celebration of St Michael, captain of heaven’s angel host, courteous warrior, and healer.
Part one

With acknowledgements to ‘Holidays and Happy-Days’ (1901) by Hamish Hendry.

St Michael is the supreme general of all the angels of God, a figure attested in the Book of Daniel, the Epistle of Jude, and the Revelation of St John the Divine, as well as in Rabbinic literature. In the time of St Bede, as still today in the Eastern Churches, he was associated with healing and a safe passage to heaven.

“THE Michaelmas daisies,” says the old rhyme, “among dead weeds, Bloom for St Michael's valorous deeds.”*

The Archangel Michael’s valorous deeds are described in the Bible. St John tells us that there was war in heaven, and Michael and his angels fought against the devil and his angels, and cast them down.* One English legend says that the devil landed on a prickly bramble, which is why blackberries do not make good eating after Michaelmas, on September 29th.*

Michael also stood courteous but firm when Moses died, and the devil falsely claimed ownership. Christians should be like Michael, says St Jude, because he did not hurl insults even when contending with his arch-enemy.*

Mediaeval England took Michael as a patron of truth and justice, borrowing his name for the Michaelmas term of Universities and the Bar, and for one of the four traditional Quarter Days when rents were paid. However, long before this Michael was venerated not as an avenger, but as a healer.

* The Aster amellus flowers until October; see a picture from the Hermitage of Braid in Edinburgh (Geograph Britain and Ireland website).

* See Revelation 12:7-10.

* The feast of St Michael is kept on November 8th (November 21st NS) in the Eastern Churches; see The Defeat Of The Dark Side: Orthodox Church Celebrates Michaelmas (OrthoChristian). However, the Serbian Church keeps the feast on September 29th (October 12th NS), as is traditional in Britain.

* See Jude 9.

With acknowledgements to ‘Holidays and Happy-Days’ (1901) by Hamish Hendry.

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Picture: © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0. View original
An icon of St Michael the Archangel in the Chora Church in Constantinople (Istanbul). The Eastern tradition of keeping St Michael’s day on November 8th comes from fifth-century Constantinople, where the Archangel was regarded as a patron of healing. The English tradition of keeping the Feast of St Michael and All Angels on September 29th is almost as ancient, dating back to sixth-century Rome, and is shared by the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Part Two

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