As we pray, "... be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil."
In the present crisis that is afflicting the Church, devotion to St. Michael the Archangel seems particularly imperative.
Church tradition ascribes many roles to St. Michael, whose name means ‘Who is Like God?’ Perhaps foremost among them is his role in battling Satan. This is reflected in the Prayer to St. Michael, which is often said after Mass and begins with these lines:
St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares
of the Devil.
See our slideshow for a list of some of the sacred sites specially connected to St. Michael:
In 1884, Pope Leo XIII ordered that this prayer be said at the end of low Masses after he had a horrific vision about Satan destroying the Church. This practice ceased in 1970 with the issuing of the new missal, but it was later revived by Pope St. John Paul II in 1994. (This source here has more of the history.)
In the Book of Revelation, St. Michael is seen leading the victorious angels in battle against Satan. In the Book of Jude St. Michael argues with Satan over the body of Moses and, in Daniel, St. Michael aids and protects the prophet, who also has a vision of the archangel as a guardian of the Church.
Following Scripture, the Church believes that St. Michael has four “offices”:
- Fighting Satan
- Rescuing the souls of Christians from Satan as he did with Moses
- Guarding and championing the Church
- Shepherding souls of the deceased to the Last Judgment
(adapted from the Catholic Encyclopedia)
Perhaps it is in his first and third roles that we especially need the aid and intercession of St. Michael today. In addition to the above prayer, there is also a novena and a chaplet that can be said to St. Michael, among other prayers.
Here is a list of some of the sacred sites specially connected to St. Michael:
St. Michael’s Shrine in Tarpon Springs, Florida
This is the only actual shrine to St. Michael in the United States. It dates back to the late 1930s and the miraculous healing of a boy named Steve Tsalickis from brain cancer. During his illness, the child prayer before an icon to St. Michael the Archangel, telling his mother that the saint wanted them to build a shrine to him. Steve survived the tumor and the shrine was constructed in the family backyard. The shrine, which is in Tarpon Springs on the Gulf Coast of Florida, has been associated with other reported miraculous healings. According to the Catholic Herald, the shrine draws both Orthodox and Catholic devotees. (Check out these sources here and here for more background on the shrine.)
Florida Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel
Florida is also the site of one of two basilicas dedicated to St. Michael in the United States. Located in Pensacola, the parish was founded in 1781 and dates its history back to the second Spanish settlement in the area, in 1693, according to the parish website. The parish was established after a battle to retake the city from the British. It was recognized as a basilica by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.
Pennsylvania Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel
The second basilica to St. Michael is in Loretto, in western Pennsylvania, and also dates back to early colonial history. The parish was established in the late 1700s and the church has been rebuilt several times. The current stone structure was erected in 1901, according to the parish website. St. Michael was the patron of the first person to settle in the area, Michael McGuire.
New Brunswick Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel
Located in Miramichi, near Quebec City in Canada, this basilica was built in 1921 as a home for local Irish immigrants. The parish itself is about 150 years old. The church is reportedly one of the largest in Canada.
St. Michael’s Basilica-Cathedral in Quebec
Both a cathedral and a basilica, Saint Michel is situated on an acropolis-like cliff overlooking a city of Sherbrooke in Quebec, according to one travel site. It was first built in 1803 and was reconstructed in 1849 after a fire, according to a tourism site.
St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica in Toronto
St. Michael’s was established in Toronto in 1845 and was funded by Irish immigrations. According to one account, local Catholics were very involved in its construction: the foundation was shoveled out by hand and volunteer workers were treated to a barbeque afterwards. Local shipbuilders also crafted its interior columns from maple and oak.