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Religious Subjects > Michael





St Michael Archangel

St Michael makes various appearances in the Bible, most notably leading other angels into battle.  In art, therefore, he often appears wearing a full suit of armour in the act of killing the Devil in the form of a dragon.  He is also shown as a majestic being with the power to weigh souls at the Last Judgement.  His role of fighting against Satan includes caring for the sick, rescuing the souls of the faithful at the hour of death, bringing men's souls to judgement and acting as champion of God's people, Jewish or Christian.

His cult began in the East but he became popular in Europe appearing in 708 to the Bishop of Avranches, which resulted in the construction of a shrine at Mont Saint Michel.  A sanctuary was also built at St Michael's Mount in Cornwall and numerous medieval English churches were dedicated to him.  In Germany he replaced the pagan god Wotan, to whom many mountains were sacred, and thus numerous mountain chapels are dedicated to St Michael.  The name Michael in Hebrew means who is like God and he is associated with high mountains and hill tops.

In woodcarving he can only be distinguished from St George by his wings, which are usually missing, just to compound the problem.  However, wings were often slotted into mortices on the back of the carving leaving clearly visible marks.  At other times the wings were simply nailed on; while nails also leave marks, because such carvings have often been moved, repositioned, re-fixed it is not always possible to make a positive identification.

September 29th is Michaelmas Day which in England is one of the regular quarter days for settling rents and accounts.  In the Middle Ages it was a day when stubble-geese were thought fit to eat; these were the geese that had been turned out into the stubble fields to pick up the corn after the harvest.

St Michael is the patron saint of businessmen, merchants and pharmacists.