The sword was carried in procession along with the Blessed Sacrament and a relic of the Holy Cross through the southern Italian town of Gargano.
On Palm Sunday, the Italian town of Gargano invoked St. Michael the Archangel against the coronavirus with a procession of priests carrying the sword from his statue.
Usually the archangel’s sword is taken out of its reliquary just once a year, on his feast day, September 29, but this year’s virus crisis prompted urgent prayers. The sword was carried in procession along with the Blessed Sacrament and a relic of the Holy Cross (a gift brought back by a Crusader in 1228) through the southern Italian town.
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Il Timone, a Catholic Italian newspaper, described the event as “one of great impact” both “in terms of faith and history.”
The rector of the Shrine, Fr. Ladislao Sucky, invoked the prince of the heavenly host:
Today we want to invoke him because as in the past, in the various moments of trial, of natural disasters, even of plague, our fathers in this place have invoked him and have always found his help. His intercession brought a prodigious salvation for Monte Sant’Angelo during the plague period of 1656. Today we invoke through his intercession the Lord to save not only Monte Sant’Angelo, but all Italy, all Gargano, all the world from this epidemic.
Gargano’s mayor called for St. Michael’s intercession.
“Archangel Michael,” he said, “[Gargano] is a city that kneels before you through my knees; it is a city that looks up to you through my eyes; it is a city that prays to you today through my voice.
“Accept this prayer of ours, defend with your sword our city, our country from this pandemic. Protect this people today as [in 1656]. Give them the strength to stay united in the face of this terrible emergency,” the mayor added. “May this prayer of ours be a song that goes straight to God.”
Archbishop Viganò’s call to bishops and priests worldwide “to fight the common enemy of the whole human race” also urged the faithful to pray for St. Michael’s intercession.
“Since the early days of the Church, the archangel has been venerated as the defender of God’s rights, helping Christians to be steadfast in their fidelity to God in times of trial,” Archbishop Viganò said.
During the troubled times of the coronavirus — when the “common enemy” seems to have won many battles — the faithful are turning to St. Michael for protection, as they celebrate the victory of Easter and ponder these words from the Apocalypse: “And there was a great battle in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought, and his angels. And they prevailed not … .” (12:7–8).