On 29 September, the Liturgy of the Church commemorates the feast of St. Michael the Archangel. In an age in which the forces of evil have enormous freedom of action, misleading and kidnapping souls, the figure of San Michele takes on a first-rate value. Its name derives from the expression “Mi-ka-El”, which means “who is like God?” and since no one is like the Almighty, the Archangel fights all those who rise with pride, challenging the Most High. In Sacred Scripture it is quoted five times: in the book of Daniel, of Judah, in the Apocalypse and in all biblical passages it is considered the “supreme head of the celestial army”, that is, of the angels at war against evil. In the Tradition Michael is the antithesis of Lucifer, leader of the angels who decided to do without God and therefore fell into the Underworld. Michael, general of the angels, he is the one who defends the Faith, the Truth and the Church. Dante (1265-1321) admirably illustrates the beauty and power of this heavenly Prince and his diligence in protecting mankind from the snares of Satan. In the Litany of the Saints prayed in Purgatory by those who were envious on earth, Saint Michael is the second named, after the Most Holy Mary, a sign of her great power of intercession (Purgatory XIII, 51). The Virgin Mary and the Archangel Michael are associated in their fight against the devil and both, iconographically speaking, have under their feet, as appropriate, the serpent, the dragon, the devil himself, which the Archangel keeps chained and he threatens him, ready to pierce him, with his sword. Its cult is very widespread both in the East and in the West, as evidenced by the countless churches, sanctuaries, monasteries and even mountains named after him. In Europe, during the early Middle Ages, three jewels of devotion, history, architecture and art were built in his honor: the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, the Sacra di San Michele on Mount Pirchiriano, in Piedmont and the sanctuary of Monte Gargano in Puglia. Defender of the Church, his statue appears on the top of Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome and he is the protector of the Christian people, as he once was of medieval pilgrims against the pitfalls they encountered along the way. Leo XIII (1810-1903), on 13 October 1884, after having finished celebrating Holy Mass in the Vatican chapel, remained motionless for ten minutes in a state of profound disturbance. He later rushed to his study. It was then that the Pope composed the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. Subsequently, the Pontiff will tell of having heard Jesus and Satan and having had a terrifying vision of Hell: “I saw the earth enveloped by darkness and an abyss, I saw legions of demons coming out and spreading around the world to destroy works of the Church and attack the same Church that I have seen reduced to the limit. Then St. Michael appeared and drove the evil spirits into the abyss. Then I saw St. Michael the Archangel intervene not at that moment, but much later, when people had multiplied their fervent prayers to the Archangel ». After about half an hour he called the Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, ordering him to have the sheet in his hand printed and to be sent to all the Bishops of the Church: the manuscript contained the prayer that the Pope arranged to have recited at the end of the Holy Mass, the supplication to Mary Most Holy and the invocation to the Prince of the celestial militias, by means of which God is implored to drive the Prince of the world back into Hell. This plea has fallen into disuse. No Pontiff has abrogated this prayer after the Holy Sacrifice and not even the Novus Ordo denies it, even if since the 1970s it has stopped reciting it, depriving the Church of a precious defense weapon.
Gabriel (Strength of God) is one of the spirits who stand before God (Lk 1, 19), he reveals to Daniel the secrets of God’s plan (Dn 8, 16; 9, 21-22), he announces to Zechariah the birth of John (Lk 1, 11-20) and to Mary that of God (Lk 1, 26-38). The new calendar brought together in a single celebration the three archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, whose feast fell on September 29, March 24 and October 24 respectively. Sacred Scripture speaks explicitly of the existence of these Angels, which gives them a name and determines their function. St. Michael, the ancient patron of the Synagogue, is now the patron of the universal Church; St. Gabriel is the angel of the Incarnation and perhaps of the agony in the garden of olives; S. Raffaele is the guide of the wayfarers. St. Gabriel, “he who stands before God” (he is his ” It is he who explains to the prophet Daniel how the full restoration will take place, from the return from exile to the advent of the Messiah. He is entrusted with the task of announcing the birth of the precursor, John, son of Zacharias and Elizabeth. The highest mission that has ever been entrusted to a creature is: the proclamation of the Incarnation of the Son of God. For this he enjoys a particular veneration even among Mohammedans. It is he who explains to the prophet Daniel how the full restoration will take place, from the return from exile to the advent of the Messiah. He is entrusted with the task of announcing the birth of the precursor, John, son of Zacharias and Elizabeth. The highest mission that has ever been entrusted to a creature is: the proclamation of the Incarnation of the Son of God. For this he enjoys a particular veneration even among Mohammedans.
For teenagers and young people who go out of the house for the first time there is an exceptional patron, the archangel San Raffaele.
The reason for this patronage is soon explained. He is that spirit created by God that appears in the book of Tobias, the book of the Bible which, in truth, begins with the attribution to Tobith, his father. This is an uplifting story, variously dated between the Persian period and the era of the Maccabaian revolts. The events of the suddenly blind father and son, exiled from the kingdom of Israel to Nineveh in the eighth century BC, ie at the time of the Assyrian deportation, are intertwined around the “pure” and the “impure” and more generally around the obedience to the Law.
The central nucleus of the book is the journey undertaken by Tobias to recover, in a distant land, a credit from his father who has become destitute, with the “safe” accompaniment of a character who turns out to be the archangel Raphael in the end. Once on the banks of the Tigris, Tobias was invited to fish in the river with his hands a dangerous fish partly to feed but, above all, to preserve its heart, liver and gall. In the complicated and adventurous journey they will become elements of sensational healings. With the perfumes of the two organs placed on a brazier, Sarra, possessed by the devil who had made her first seven husbands die, will be freed and will become, without danger, Tobia’s wife. Later, with the gall applied to his father’s eyes, the young man will be able to cure him of blindness.
At the end of the story, with the recovered credit, it was a question of rewarding the generous companion. Raphael however, revealing himself as the one who “presents the memory of prayers before the Glory of the Lord” (12:12), refused every offer and, inviting us to thank God, went up high. In the Middle Ages, adolescents and young people who left the house for the first time placed themselves under the protection of San Raffaele and brought with them a tablet that depicted them in the role of Tobias accompanied by the archangel. From the biblical account it is also understood how Raphael is invoked against many diseases of the soul and body. In recent times, its liturgical feast has been extended from 24 October to 29 September, together with that of Michael and Gabriel.