THE MISSION OF SAINT MICHAEL
« THE luminous Cloud that hides from our view the splendour of the divine Majesty also covers, in its heavenly mystery, these multitudes of spiritual beings that the Faith makes known to us. » Letter to My Friends n° 224, which is dedicated to the angels and their vocation, begins with this profession of Faith. In Heaven, there are « myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands » of angels, the Apocalypse teaches us. Even more ardently than we they desire our salvation and devote themselves to this with a tireless zeal. The angels are dedicated to our individual salvation, and, since that salvation is necessarily conditioned on it, they are even more dedicated to the salvation of the Church and Christendom, against which Satan and his angels fight furiously, as they are intent on bringing about our downfall.
The 1300th anniversary of St. Michael’s apparition to St. Aubert, which was celebrated last 16 October, offers us the occasion to glance through Sacred History up to our days and to see the extent to which the head of these angels has taken an interest in the struggles of France and of the Church. On the contrary, it is a large part of his mission, and he devotes himself to it passionately. Thus, we will deal with the apparitions of Fatima from a new point of view, from that of the Angel. Perhaps we will find in it more reasons to pray and invoke him along with Mary in this Apocalyptic combat that we are living through today.
ST. MICHAEL REVEALED IN THE BIBLE
The angels were created holy, happy, pure spirits, full of love of God. Lucifer was their head. The most brilliant and intelligent of the angels stood the closest to his Creator and distributed to his brethren the blessing and graces that he received. All these angels are organised in a hierarchy that is composed of nine Choirs, from the Seraphim and Cherubim down to the Archangels, who are found, contrary to the generally accepted idea, at the inferior level of this hierarchy, alongside the Guardian Angels.
« Then in the Morning, new orders arrive that completely change the old ones, with their series of unprecedented “ miracles ” : folly ! » In his Letter, our Father explains this trial : « I think that they read in this Heart opened to their eyes, the name of Jesus and that must have astounded them. They understood that above them, preferred to all, there existed for the Heavenly Father Someone of whom only the human Face appeared. They sensed an astounding solicitude of this Heart for the earthworms that we are, an incomprehensible patience and excess of love. » They understood that they, creatures more elevated than human beings, had to devote themselves to their salvation. This was God’s will.
Lucifer refused and raised the standard of revolt : « I am like a god ; never will I stoop so low. Non serviam ! » There was astonishment among the angels, and anger and sadness on the Face of God. What ! Lucifer, the most beautiful and beloved of the angelic creatures refused to adhere to His divine plan ?
And no one dared to react ! ?
Even so, a small angel, Michael, from the order of the Archangels, said to himself : « Who am I to rise up against my leader, against Lucifer ? I am unable to face up to him. Yet, I have to do something, take God’s part, show Him that I love Him. » Then, to the surprise of his brethren, he dared to stand up and reply : « Quis ut Deus ? Who is like God ? Mi-ka-el, in Hebrew. You dare, Lucifer, to be satisfied with your own perfections and make yourself God’s equal ? What pride ! »
Immediately among them there was an intensely violent« mêlée, a struggle of Spirit against Spirit, more terrible than our own battles, but for us how mysterious it is ! »
« Michael and his angels fought against the Dragon ; and the Dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated and driven out of Heaven. The great Dragon was thrown down, that ancient Serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. » (Ap 12 :7-9)
The fight continues now in the world. The holy angels help men to be saved, and the demons work for their downfall.
« The good angels and the saints who are in Heaven help us as much as they can by their prayers, merits, and examples. This compensates for the demons’ actions : when we appeal to St. Michael, the Devil steps back before his personal enemy. » (Georges de Nantes, Auto-Da-Fe, He is Risen, no 72, p. 35)
St. Jude teaches, in fact, that « the archangel Michael was fiercely disputing with the Devil » (Jude 1 :9).
Let us follow St. Michael in this temporal combat.
In the account of the origins, after Adam’s sin, Yahweh stationed the « cherubim and the flaming sword » (Gn 3 :24) before the Garden of Eden. The cherubim and the flaming sword are quite distinct. The flame is held by St. Michael, the Garden of Eden’s guard. He it is who authorises the elect to enter. He it is who weighs our souls. This is why the sculptors of our cathedrals represent him so often holding scales in his hand.
We then find him in the book of Daniel as the defender of God’s people in a fight that is at the same time temporal and spiritual, a fight against the « peoples », their false cults, or their impiety. After the Babylonian captivity, a portion of the Jews remained in exile under Persian domination and enjoyed a certain consideration… But the angel of Yahweh reveals that he must fight the « Prince of Persia », that no one except Michael, « your Prince, standing as a reinforcement and a bulwark for me », comes to his aid (Dn 10 :21-11 :1).
This account teaches us two things : on the one hand, nations have Angels commissioned to guard them ; on the other hand, St. Michael is the defender of God’s people, which was Israel and which is now the Church.
In the eighteenth century, St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote : « It was he, the Prince of the Synagogue, who maintained the faith in one God in Israel and the hope in the future Messiah. » Thus, Sacred History is a chronicle of St. Michael’s protection of the people of Israel ! But « when Jesus came into the world, St. Alphonsus continues, and the Jews refused to recognise Him as their Saviour, God condemned their Church and wanted St. Michael to be, after the Divine Mother, the main protector of the new Church of the Christians ».
GUARDIAN ANGEL OF THE SOVEREIGN PONTIFF AND THE CHURCH
In order to defend the Church, St. Michael established his headquarters in Italy. In a.d. 490, a rich farmer, Gargano, from the city of Sipontum in southern Italy on the Adriatic coast, went to look for his bull that had run away to the mountain. He finally found it kneeling before a grotto. In his anger he shot an arrow that rebounded and pierced his thigh. Terrified, Gargano went to see the bishop, St. Lawrence, who in a dream the following night, saw the Archangel St. Michael asking him to dedicate the grotto to him. He did so in 493.
The mountain was given the name Monte Gargano and became the centre of devotion to the Archangel. It is like St. Michael’s sentry post to guard Rome. Many were the Popes who implored his protection.
To thank him, they built at the top of Castel Sant’ Angelo a small chapel that imitates Monte Gargano’s grotto; in it one of them engraved this ex-voto : « St. Michael, be my protector and my defender as you have been for all those who preceded me on the throne of Peter. »
St. Michael is really appointed to the office of guarding the Sovereign Pontiff and the Church, not only against their exterior enemies but also in internal quarrels. In 726, the quarrel of Images broke out between Rome and Byzantium. The Byzantine emperor formed a plan to enslave the Sovereign Pontiff and to send an army against him. The Pope could not count on the Lombards who occupied Italy and who would betray him. He thus turned towards the Eldest Daughter of the Church, towards our country.
ST. MICHAEL TAKES POSSESSION OF FRANCE
We must go back a few decades to understand the situation of the Frankish kingdom. Around a.d. 700 it would have been unable to defend the Pope and the Church. It was going through a period of grave political and religious crisis : the Merovingian kings no longer exercised any real power. The Frankish Church seemed to abandon herself to an irremediable decadence, and the Franks lived under the double threat of the Germans to the east and the Saracens to the south.
This is when St. Michael intervened in person…
In 708, he appeared in a dream to St. Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, to ask him to build a sanctuary in his honour on Mont Tombe. Fearing an illusion, St. Aubert only obeyed upon the Archangel’s third demand, but he ended up building a small chapel to which he appointed twelve canons.
Childebert III, king of Nuestria, was the first sovereign to go there on pilgrimage. He deposed « his sceptre and his crown in the hands of My Lord St. Michael », thus taking him as official guardian of the Franks.
From then on St. Michael had his sanctuary, from which he would be able to arrange the affairs of the kingdom. A searching study of history shows that he did so discretely through the intermediary of St. Boniface, the “ apostle of Germany ”.
This monk of English origin, who was born in 680, had been sent by Pope Gregory II to the difficult missions across the Rhine. A very great devotee of St. Michael, he fought paganism in his name. To accomplish his task, he grouped the neophyte populations around the churches and monasteries, several of which were devoted to St. Michael. In particular, he founded Michaelsberg, the German Mont-Saint-Michel, in Bavaria. He had had much difficulty destroying a pagan temple and was going to go away discouraged, when he saw in the sky St. Michael felling the Demon.
Now, St. Boniface was assisted in his missions by the mayor of the palace, Charles Martel, who showed him a veritable veneration. When their father died, Carloman and Pepin the Short continued to guarantee with magnanimity the protection of the missionary-monk, who in exchange rendered great services to our nation.
In 742, St. Boniface was appointed archbishop and undertook a reform of the Frankish Church : he condemned heretics, appointed new bishops, obliged clergy to lead a life in conformity with their vocation and to wear the habit, and restored the Benedictine rule to a place of honour… Thus amended, the Frankish clergy became the active strength of the nation on whom the Carolingian kings relied.
In 747, Carloman renounced the crown in favour of his brother in order to enter the convent. Pepin the Short charged St. Burchard of Würzurg, a disciple of St. Boniface, with asking Pope Zachary for permission to depose the last Merovingian king and have himself acclaimed king of the Franks. The Pope having consented, Pepin was anointed with holy oil at Soisson by St. Boniface on 6 January 751. « For the first time in the history of the Frankish kingdom, the royal anointing is expressly mentioned. » (Georges de Nantes, La France, avant, après 1789… et après 1983, CRC no 198, p. 11)
The Carolingian dynasty was born.
Three years later, St. Boniface died a martyr during one of his missionary trips, in his seventy-fourth year.
The consolidated Frankish kingdom was able to come to the aid of the Pope. Threatened by the Byzantines and the Lombards, « Pope Stephen II came himself to Gaul during the winter of 754, “ to beseech with tears the king of the Franks to assume the cause of St. Peter and the Roman Republic ” » (ibid.).
The king solemnly committed himself to it, and undoubtedly did so in Abbey Saint-Mihiel, where the Pope resided and the greatness of which he predicted. Founded in 709, this abbey was dedicated to St. Michael and possessed on its territory the village of Domremy ! Pepin the Short crossed the Alps twice, in 754 and in 756. He soon gave to the Church all the cities recaptured from the Lombards, thus constituting « the Papal States ».
All of this came about under the protection of St. Michael, for from St. Boniface, devotion to St. Michael passed to Charles Martel and Pepin the Short. Charlemagne developed it even further.
This emperor entrusted to the Archangel a good many of his affairs. It was at Saint-Mihiel abbey that he held his assemblies and decided when he would leave on war. He established the Archangel patron of the kingdom and fixed 29 September as the official holiday of the Frankish empire. He had him represented on his standards with the inscription : “ Saint Michael, patron and prince of the Empire of the Gauls ”.
The “ Angel ” is then, along with that of St. Denys, the main standard of the army of the West, and it was carried before the emperor during his campaigns.
ST. MICHAEL FIGHTS FOR US
Throughout the centuries, devotion to St. Michael spread all over of France.
The sanctuaries that were devoted to him became more numerous. A pilgrim from the South of France could encounter seventeen, such as Saint-Michel-d’Aiguilhe in Puy-en-Velay, before reaching Mont Saint-Michel. In Carolingian churches, the chapel of the narthex was dedicated to St. Michael or the holy angels. In Benedictine and Cluniac monasteries, it was customary to dedicate to St. Michael one of the towers that defended the entry of the court in front of the Church. Hundreds of churches and oratories put themselves under his protection.
Religious confraternities gathered together former pilgrims of Mont-Saint-Michel to give alms, visit hospitals, bury the dead.
At the dubbing ceremony, all knights were placed jointly under the patronage of St. George and St. Michael : « In the name of God, of St. Michael and St. George, I make you a knight. »
More than five hundred cities took him for their patron, as did more than thirty guilds : scale manufacturers, barbers, who honour the “ head ” of the militia, roast-meat sellers, gunsmiths, bakers…
The feast of the Archangel, 29 September, was an occasion to multiply pilgrimages and processions. Also on that day, judges rendered the gravest judgements. The prospect of one day being judged by St. Michael strongly inclined the faithful to act with honesty !
As for our sovereigns, during the ceremony of their anointing, at the blessing of the royal banner, they were placed under the special protection of the Archangel. During the king’s funeral procession, St. Michael was represented by the large standard bearing his effigy.
During their lifetime not one of them failed to show by some public manifestation, such as a pilgrimage, his submission to St. Michael. Godefroy de Bouillon, whom Philip I placed at the head of the first Crusade, had the canons of Antwerp pray to St. Michael, canons who had been specially instituted in a chapter to this end. The siege of Jerusalem proved to be so difficult that the Crusaders became discouraged. After having ordered a triduum of prayer and penance, Godefroy repeated a painful and lengthy attack. Courage was waning when suddenly the Christians saw the Archangel making a sign to the troops to return to combat. The final assault was given on Good Friday 1099 to the cry of « St. Michael, fight for us ». A stained-glass window in the cathedral of Antwerp commemorates this miracle. In the thirteenth century, Philip Augustus had made the “ Marvel ” that we presently see on Mont Saint-Michel. It was given this name because it is a magnificent success at building a ninety-metre long Gothic church on the summit of a pyramid. The king sent Simon de Montfort to fight the Albigensians under the protection of St. Michael. St. Louis had a statue of the Archangel placed atop Sainte-Chapelle next to his palace.
In short, throughout the kingdom, for centuries, St. Michael was honoured in churches and in public squares…, and it was under this standard that France accomplished her mission as the Church’s shield. France was always ready to send an army to the Pope at Rome, against the infidels and heretics, or quite simply to welcome the Pope in exile, as she did in the fourteenth century at Avignon.
« I AM MICHAEL, PROTECTOR OF FRANCE. »
We thought we were invincible ; then suddenly we were at the mercy of the English. In the Treaty of Troyes in 1420, King Charles VI promised that at his death the crown would pass to the king of England. The situation became desperate when, in 1429, the English laid siege to the last city that barred their route : Orleans. It was about to fall… when St. Michael sent St. Joan of Arc.
Joan of Arc was a native of Barrois, a province that was specially dedicated to the archangel with its Saint-Mihiel Abbey, rather far from Domremy. But Joan often went on pilgrimage at Moncel, two kilometres from her village, where the Archangel was honoured.
One day in 1424, she saw him. Before her judges, she gave a very precise description of him.
« He had the form of a very true valiant knight !
– Was he naked ?
– Do you think that Our Lord had nothing in which to clothe him ?
– Did he have hair ?
– And why would they have cut it ?… no, I do not know if he has hair. He had wings on his shoulders, but no crown on his head. »
She insisted :
« I saw him with the eyes of my body, just as I see you… I saw him with my corporal eyes. »
Why is Joan so sure that she has seen Michael ? Because he introduced himself :
« I am Michael, the protector of France. »
This sentence alone confirms that the protection that was sought by our kings from St. Michael had been granted to them.
Joan of Arc told the truth. She miraculously delivered Orleans on 8 May 1429, on the feast of St. Michael. The Battle of Patay that opened the route to Rheims was won on 18 June, the day of the translation of St. Aubert’s relics, and then it was the royal crowning in the city of the anointing.
St. Michael visited Joan everyday while she was a prisoner : « I heard his voice yesterday and today, in the morning and at vespers, and at the Ave Maria, and I have heard him much more often », she affirmed. The Archangel is the inspirer of the answers that disconcert her judges.
But this does not dissuade them from having her put to death on the stake. An expiratory victim, she redeemed France’s sins by her martyrdom.
St. Michael’s protection of France manifested itself in the protection that he granted to Mont Saint-Michel itself. The thirtieth abbot of the Mount, Robert Jolivet, sycophantically minded and bereft of piety, was in charge of the Mount’s harbour office. But in 1420, he made a volte-face. He betrayed his king and went to Rouen to submit to the king of England. It was a scandal in the monastery ! The monastery chapter elected a new prior, Jean Gonault.
Jolivet went even further in his crime : he indicated to the English the weak points of the fortress, which he knew better than anyone, since he had built it. But all his efforts were vain, and none of the English were ever able to capture the sancturary. On 30 May 1431 Jolivet ended up an assessor on the tribunal over which Bishop Cauchon presided and that sent Joan to the stake !
ST. MICHAEL DISPOSSESSED
Our Father explains that in the sixteenth century the great combat of the last times began. Today we are living through the paroxysm. Satan’s plan is simple : overthrow the Church after having destroyed France, her shield.
It seems as though the Blessed Virgin wanted to warn us about this danger. She appeared in 1519, precisely at the moment of the Lutheran revolt, at Cotignac, to a poor farmer, Jean de la Beaume. She demanded processions. She was accompanied by St. Michael, Her attentive escort, and by St. Bernard, Her incomparable eulogist.
The upper classes of society, which were influenced by the Reformation, disputed the dogmas more and more frequently, and questioned the existence of the angels and the intervention of saints. Mont-Saint-Michel, the national sanctuary, lost its pre-eminence. Henri III, martyr of the monarchy in 1589, was the last king to go there on pilgrimage.
Nevertheless, the Blessed Virgin and St. Michael did not withdraw their protection : France must remain ! Therefore, as soon as the king turns towards them, his prayers are answered.
The victory of La Rochelle was obtained thanks to Our Lady in 1628, and the grateful Louis XIII consecrated France to the Blessed Virgin on 15 August 1638. The national holiday was thereafter fixed on 15 August, instead of on 29 September. St. Michael “ gives way ” to the Immaculate. When we take a closer look, at Domremy, at Cotignac, the Archangel presents himself as an attentive escort, a bodyguard, a servant of the Immaculate rather than as a powerful warrior.
At Louis XIII’s death in 1643, Louis XIV, whose birth was obtained by the intercession of Our Lady of Cotignac, was only four years old. His mother, Anne of Austria, managed the affairs of the nation with Cardinal Mazarin.
Soon, revolt was brewing in the streets of Paris and in the countryside. It was the Fronde. Our Father explains that France reacted in a bad manner, but was revolting against the « ecclesiastical dictatorship » of Richelieu and Mazarin. For four years, the revolt, which the Protestants stirred up, was led with persistence.
Anne of Austria, who saw no solution, asked Monsieur Olier, founder of the priests of Saint-Sulpice, to compose an act of renewal of the “ Consecration of the Crown and the Kingdom to the Archangel ”.
Here is this prayer :
« Glorious St. Michael, Prince of the Heavenly Hosts and general of God’s armies, I recognise you to be all powerful through Him over kingdoms and States. I submit myself to you with my entire court, my State, and my family, in order to live under your protection, and I renew myself as much as I am able, in the piety of all my predecessors who have always regarded you as their special protector. Thus, for the sake of the love that you have for this State, submit it entirely to God and to those who represent Him. »
As a pledge of allegiance, the queen mother made a vow to erect an altar and have Masses said in honour of St. Michael. She kept her word so well that, at the end of 1652, the kingdom had recovered its stability. The monks of Mont-Saint-Michel were charged with honouring the Masses.
Louis XIV began his grandiose reign, but by a test. The king was scorned by the papacy ; Europe united in a coalition to bring down his supremacy and destroy his influence. All was going very badly when, in 1689, Our Lord made known by St. Margaret Mary that the king would triumph over all his enemies, who are also « those of the Church », if he publically submitted his person and his State to the Sacred Heart… If he had done so – divine promise ! – Louis XIV would have been for the Church a new Clovis, a new Charlemagne, a new St. Louis. But incredibly, Louis XIV, the most Christian king, refused ! There then began for France a slow de-Christianisation.
St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort became alarmed about it and proclaimed everywhere that the Church and Christendom were entering a dramatic period. « He was sent to his century, our Father wrote, to preserve it from the most important danger, which is the danger of humanism, the danger of culture, of civilisation that constitutes itself as an independent value, far from God, far from Christ. He is the equivalent of the prophets of the Old Testament, from Samuel to John the Baptist ; this is why the “ great ” did not understand him, as in the time of Ahab or Hezekiah. »
In 1706, St. Louis-Marie went to Rome to offer himself to the Pope, who entrusted France to him as a field of apostolate. Feeling incapable of such a mission, he went on pilgrimage to the Mount and put himself in the hands of St. Michael the archangel, patron of France, victor of Satan, whose henchmen had begun to pervert the society of the eighteenth century. St. Louis-Marie wanted to fight with St. Michael against the “ worldly ”, as St. Boniface had against the barbarians in the past.
His “ Fiery Prayer ” is marked with this apocalyptic vision of the state of a world in which thieves, soldiers, and merchants unite to wage battle under the standard and the direction of the Devil : « Then, great God… Hardly anyone will support your cause ? Scarcely one soldier lines up under your standard. Scarcely anyone will stand up and cry out, like St. Michael in the midst of his fellow-angels : Quis ut Deus ? Let me then raise the cry of alarm : “The House of God is on fire ! Help ! Help !… »
The fears and prophecies of St. Louis-Marie were confirmed to the letter. The adherents of the “ Enlightenment ” and other non-believers who had observed a timid self-restraint under the reign of Louis XIV, attacked the Church with impunity under the Regency. Freemasonry was introduced into France in 1725. Lodges multiplied in high society : the “ Grand Orient of France ” was created in 1773, and its grand master was the Duc d’Orleans !
The clergy was seduced by Voltaire and Rousseau. There resulted a general lukewarmness of piety, a decrease in religious vocations, and a collapse of missionary zeal. Episcopal authority forbade the Confraternities of St. Michael to perform mystery plays under the pretext that the excessively naïve scenes could not be supported without scandalising the freethinkers of that century.
Louis XV also suffered from this scepticism. He was the first of our kings not to consecrate the kingdom to St. Michael, leaving his visible and invisible enemies free to do as they pleased. An abbot of Mont-Saint-Michel, Richard de Toustain, who in the past had received St. Louis, is said to have predicted that « the king’s posterity who would refrain from coming to pray St. Michael in his sanctuary, would be stricken to the third generation. » Under Louis XVI, churches dedicated to St. Michael collapsed and were not rebuilt, such as Saint-Michel-de-la-Cour-du-Palais on Île de la Cité, Paris.
The Revolution of 1789 suppressed the traditions, partially destroyed the churches dedicated to St. Michael, forbade the feasts and solemnities of the Archangel, and abolished his confraternities. Thus dispossessed of his title of Guardian Angel of France, he was chased from Mont-Saint-Michel in the person of the Benedictines of the sanctuary, who were forced into exile. A few months later, the magistrate of Avranches had the Abbey’s treasure seized, and Mont-Saint-Michel became “ Mont-Libre ”. More than three hundred refractory priests were imprisoned there.
The Empire changed it into a prison.
ST. MICHAEL SPREADS THE DEVOTION TO THE SACRED HEART
After the refusal that Louis XIV gave the Sacred Heart’s demands, St. Michael turned his back on France. Let us see him at work in Spain.
One must read on this subject Brother Francis’ study in July 2004 on Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos (He is Risen, no 23). He was born in 1711 in Torrelobatón near Valladolid. He had been admitted at fourteen years of age into the Jesuit novitiate. Six months later he was favoured by visions that would not cease until his death in 1735.
At twenty-two, he learned from Jesus that his vocation would be to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart in Spain, and to let Providence act.
One day after Communion, he heard St. Michael explain to him « how to extend devotion to Jesus’ Heart throughout Spain and, more universally, throughout the entire Church.
« He told me, Brother Hoyos related, that he himself, as the Church’s protector, would assist in this enterprise ; that this would come about through our agency insofar as God wished ; that there would be very serious difficulties, but that we would feel the effects of his assistance : they would be overcome. »
Thus it came to be. Brother Hoyos wanted to publish a brochure on the devotion to the Sacred Heart, but Church authorities raised a thousand obstacles. It had to be sent to Rome ; the archbishop of Valladolid did not like this devotion, and when finally the imprimatur was granted, the printing was still postponed.
Brother Hoyos complained to St. Michael, who replied to him that he must submit himself to Divine Providence and that the Lord would realise his desires even through means that were apparently contrary.
When the brochure was finally printed in October 1734, all the bishops of Spain and king Philip V himself showed their enthusiasm and asked Clement XII to institute a feast of the Sacred Heart. But, the Pope refused… as Louis XIV had done. It was necessary to await Pius VII, who fervently approved this devotion in 1815. He ordered that the feast be celebrated in Spain on the Friday following the octave of Corpus Christi.
« PUBLISH MY GREATNESS. »
Once the French monarchy was destroyed, the revolutionary fire spread to Rome. For forty years the Italian republican troops attempted to occupy the Papal States. France once again found herself in her original vocation of protector of the Church. Napoleon III authorised sending Pontifical Zouaves. Before long, however, he betrayed, recalled his troops, and made an alliance with the Italian Freemason, Cavour. The Republicans occupied the Eternal City in September 1870.
Our Father explains that the Pope’s temporal sovereignty was necessary, because it was the base for his spiritual sovereignty. By losing Rome, the Pope would sooner or later be tempted to submit to the Italian government, if only to guarantee his security. The holy Popes Pius IX and Pius X would resist this temptation, but the others, who were “ liberals ”, succumbed to it. To lose Rome meant to be enslaved by the Revolution sooner or later. This battle was therefore a decisive and serious trial.
A holy Spanish nun, Venerable Philomena de Santa Colomba, had revelations about these tribulations.
We can read an account in a biography titled The Venerable Philomena de Santa Columba (Maison de la Bonne Presse, Paris, 1893), translated from Spanish by the Capuchin Fr. Pie de Langogne.
Philomena Ferrer was born in 1841, in Catalonia, in a humble and very Catholic family. Very pious, she was favoured with an ecstasy on the day of her first Communion, during which « Jesus granted me, she wrote, a very clear and lofty manifestation of the Immaculate Conception of Mary… »
At nineteen years of age, she entered the Convent of Valls south of Barcelona, a convent belonging to the Order of the Minims, a branch of the Franciscans that St. Francis de Paola reformed in the fifteenth century. There, she led the ordinary life of a cloistered nun. From her profession in 1861 until her death in 1868, she was favoured with many revelations.
In 1863, she told her confessor :
« The Church’s triumph is certain, yes, certain : and I already see this triumph, but I also see that it will come after long days of grief and terrible tribulations. »
« The divine Master, Fr. de Langogne summed up, revealed to her that the worlds’ sins were at their utmost, that the cup of His indignation was full, and that he was going to pour it out on several countries to avenge the offences made against His Sovereign Majesty, and the outrages perpetrated against His Heart that is so full of love for men.
« Simultaneously, God showed His servant such a sad and pitiful depiction of humanity as a whole, that this sole view would have killed her with grief, if He had not supported her Himself ; then, remembering her holocaust as a victim, she replied to the divine Saviour :
« “ My God, I would rather have You efface me from the Book of Life, if You do not wish to grant forgiveness ! ”
« She then saw three-quarters of the world in desolation and upheavals. The fourth quarter, to which the convent of Valls belonged, seemed less severely chastised, but was not spared from the general plague. Lastly, the Lord told her that among all enemies that were so violently persecuting His Vicar on earth, the holy Pope Pius IX, some would come to a tragic end, and others would convert ; He also told her that Pius IX would not leave Rome, and lastly, that a great nation would enter the Catholic Church. » (p. 97)
Our Lord revealed to her that salvation would come to the « faithful » through the agency of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate, St. Joseph, and St. Michael.
One day in 1867, she felt called by St. Michael, who told her the following : « “ Make known to men the great power I have with the Almighty ; tell them to ask me anything they want ; tell them that my power in favour of those who have devotion to me is unlimited. ” He also added this formal order : “ Publish my greatness. ” »
What is this greatness ?
Another time, she heard these words from the Sacred Heart of Jesus : « “ I shall put two of the most precious jewels as ornaments for My Heart for Its perpetual glory ; I shall crown My Heart’s two impulses with them, as an eternal memorial of the goodness of this Heart that has loved men so much. ” I understood that these two jewels were Mary Immaculate and St. Michael the Archangel, and I saw at the same time the happy fate of those who would honour and glorify them. I also heard these words :
« “ This new Trinity must be blessed and glorified on earth as is the unity of the Three divine Persons in Heaven : blessed the nation, blessed the country or the monastery that will be fired with this devotion ! Write all you know about it. ” »
She set out the insights that she had received :
« I have received knowledge of the last effort that the amiable Heart of the eternal Word will attempt in order to save men. It was more or less like this : it seemed to me that I saw the Heart of Jesus, exhausted with fatigue and sadness. He wandered about, as though He wanted to find a refuge somewhere ; and, instead of rest, He only found bushes the sharp thorns of which wounded Him and made His Blood bleed.
« This most Sacred Heart went about so filled with affliction, when suddenly two stars appeared. They were of ineffable beauty and brilliance. They approached the divine Heart in two different places, and as soon as the stars had touched the Heart, It was instantly relieved of the anguish that oppressed It. In turn, It changed into a third star ; all three remained in the form of a triangle, the middle one being the Heart of Jesus ; the one to the right, Mary Immaculate ; and the one to the left, St. Michael the Archangel.
« Mary wills to ask, Jesus or His most Sacred Heart wills to grant, and St. Michael wills to distribute generously what Mary has obtained.
« But if I wanted to make known the immense goodness of God towards us, by uniting in our favour three wills of great nobility, I would only say that the most Sacred Heart of Jesus ardently desired to fulfil the promise that He had made in these words :
« “ I have immense treasures put in reserve in My Heart for the last times, in order to revive the waning Faith of the Christians of this era. ”
« We have almost reached, Father, this pitiful state. » (p. 186 sq.)
« Jesus now wants to reward the two most valorous captains who fought most valiantly, who achieved victory an infinite number of times in favour of fallen man ; I mean the two impulses of the meekest Heart of Jesus, suffering and love. »
Suffering was attributed to the Most Blessed Virgin.
« …Unable to bear so many wounds and such great sufferings, He appealed to Mary, the most worthy object of His love, for help. He made Her the absolute mistress of this impulse of His Heart. This is how from then on, Father, the Sacred Heart of Jesus would no longer suffer any pain, as Mary Immaculate forever holds this privileged place.
For his part, St. Michael received love.
« This very noble Archangel would be like a messenger, dispatching the uncountable graces that Mary would obtain from the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He would savour such great pleasure in obeying his Queen in this manner, and in consoling all of us who moan in such harsh servitude in this land of exile, that, without exaggerating, he may truly be named unequalled joy.
« Ah, Jesus ! What ineffable union have I remarked between these three objects worthy of all our attention, of all our love ! It may well be said that between Jesus, Mary, and Michael the Archangel, there is really but one will, one same desire. Oh, a thousand times blessed are those who are devoted to them, devoted to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, or to His Immaculate Mother, or again to the seraphic St. Michael the Archangel. »
These extraordinary revelations manifest the obviously central role for the Last Times of the Heart of Jesus and of the Most Blessed Virgin, but also of St. Michael, whom we do not usually think so important.
THE ANGELIC PIUS IX,
POPE OF ST. MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL
In the meantime, Pius IX strongly opposed the revolutionaries who wanted to occupy Rome. In this struggle, he drew insight and strength in his devotion to St. Michael. It was so much alive in him that he was called the Pope of St Michael.
« St. Michael, he said, is most able to exterminate the evil sects, born of Satan, that have sworn to ruin Christian society. »
On several occasions, he encouraged this devotion.
In 1851, for example, he blessed the Rosary of St. Michael that a holy Portuguese nun, Antonia d’Astonaco had composed. The Archangel had promised his protection to those who would honour him in this way, and that an angel from each of the nine choirs would escort him to the Holy Altar.
When Pius IX received Pontifical Zouaves, he exhorted them to have recourse to St. Michael. Moved by the Pope’s devotion, the soldiers upon returning home, requested to occupy the Mount again. But Napoleon III could not publicly grant this demand without abjuring his liberal beliefs. Therefore, he took advantage of a project designed to renovate the abbey in order to shut down the prison and rent the monument to Mgr Bravard, Bishop of Avranches, who had requested it for years.
On 8 May 1865, St. Michael’s day, the bishop led the three parishes of Avranches there, and brought back the relics of the Saints that had been saved from revolutionary plundering. The Pope encouraged them to this effect, gave them other relics, and granted privileges. A Benedictine community of the Sacred Heart of St. Edme from Pontigny soon settled there, opening the period of the great pilgrimages.
The war of 1870 forced Napoleon III to abdicate. A religious of the Visitation of Troyes heard St. Michael tell her : « At last, the traitor has fallen ! »
This war finally brought the French back to the Archangel’s feet. France had strayed from God too often for Him to be able to assure her victory as in the past. But among the country’s faithful, the Archangel obviously preserved his devotees. Against all odds, Mgr Bravard obtained that the Prussians not enter his diocese. He also solemnly promised complete protection to thirty volunteers who had come to place themselves under the Archangel’s safeguard. In fact, none of them was even slightly wounded.
This miraculous protection was the cause for creating the scapular of St. Michael, which was blessed by the Pope. The two black and blue pendants, on which St. Michael was depicted, represented Hell against which the Archangel fought, and Heaven where he lives.
A great national fervour was reborn. Pilgrims flocked there. One day in September 1875, four thousand could be counted. Another time, it was the Pontifical Zouaves who went there, led by General de Charette. Donations flowed in. The main altar was covered in strips of silver and gems. The Pope published a rescript ordering a triduum of glorification. He gave the Archangel responsibility for the defence of the Catholic spirit and advised, in this intention, people to enrol in the Confraternity of St. Michael to fight the bad press and godless schools. Under Pius XII this confraternity would number as many as two million associates throughout the world.
Finally, the Pope authorised crowning the statue of Mont-Saint-Michel. On 3 July 1877, a crowd of twenty thousand people led by prelates, senators, and deputies flocked there. This feast was one of the most glorious. It was also the last in which civil authorities participated. From 1880 on, the Third Republic had congregations hounded out. The one on the Mount was expelled in 1886. Since then, the abbey has been exploited as a tourist attaction.
LEO XIII OR ST. PIUS X
We have seen that St. Michael always took up arms to defend the Church and Christianity against the barbarians, invaders, heretics, and revolutionaries who constitute the anti-Church. It is customary to place Leo XIII among St. Michael’s great devotees because he recommended this devotion and composed prayers to his glory. Among them is a beautiful one that used to be said at the foot of the altar after Mass. This prayer certainly pleases St. Michael ; nevertheless, it has to be said with a right intention.
It was certainly not the case for Leo XIII : by imposing on the French the ralliement to the Republic in 1892, by abandoning the Catholic Spanish island of Cuba to the Americans, by accepting despite himself to consecrate the world to the Sacred Heart, as our Father revealed in his study on Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart, he betrayed St. Michael’s cause, diverted many good Catholics from the real combat, and worked for the enemies of the Church. No wonder his prayer to St. Michael was never granted, in expectation of it finally being abandoned. Who still says it ?
St. Pius X acted in quite a different way. Barely two weeks after his election, he had declared war : « We must firmly believe that today’s struggle will end in triumph, with the assistance of this blessed Archangel. » And he acted accordingly. He refused the law on the separation of the Church and State, condemned Marc Sangnier’s Christian Democracy, and encouraged the Monarchists of Action française.
St. Pius wanted France to be royalist because such was God’s will, as St. Michael and St. Joan of Arc had expressed. All the saints had understood it this way.
In 1909, Emile Flourens, a Republican, former minister of Foreign Affairs, was received by the Pope, who declared to him : « Believe me, I know your French. They are naturally Catholic and monarchist. They will become so once again sooner or later. » Flourens came back from Rome, St. Pius X having convinced him to rally to the monarchy.
The Pope told Dom de Saint-Avit, a Benedictine religious : « I am unable to conceive that a French Catholic can be republican. »
« Why did St. Pius X have this predilection for our country ? Because », the marquis de La Franquerie wrote, « he knew the mission that God had eternally reserved for her : to be the Church’s shield when she was attacked, her sword when victory was sought ; because, St. Pius X used to say, “ If the supernatural dwells everywhere, it dwells above all in France. ” »
SAINT MICHAEL AT FATIMA
After St. Pius X, the struggle against the Revolution was given new vigour with Our Lady of Fatima. Devotion to Her Immaculate Heart offers the ultimate means of fighting « the errors of Russia ». This message, however, was prepared by the Angel of Fatima. Who is he ?
It is a difficult question ! The history of France, which we have only just outlined, in which we see St. Michael prepare Mary’s reign, and the revelations made to Sr. Philomena de Santa Colomba, already answer this question to a great extent. But in order to establish our certainty on secure foundations, let us study the Angel’s apparitions in the light of past revelations.
There were seven angelic apparitions at Fatima.
Sister Lucy situates the first three between April and October 1915. She does not give too many details, because the Angel appeared from afar, remained silent and did not manifest himself clearly. Sister Lucy, however, specifies that she has always believed that he was « the guardian Angel ». What does this mean ?
During the next three visions, in 1916, the same Angel spoke.
In the spring of 1916, he said : « I am the Angel of Peace. » The liturgy specifies in several places that the Angel of Peace is St. Michael. In the Hymn of Lauds of 29 September, the Church puts these words on our lips : « May the Angel of Peace, Michael, descend from Heaven into our homes, with the serene peace he brings. » At Mass, on the same day, we also sing : « Under the aegis of St. Michael, peace on earth, peace in the Heavens ! »
Throughout history, St. Michael was often invoked to obtain peace. To thank him for his empire’s pacification, Charlemagne had a church dedicated to “ St Michael of Peace ” built. Pope Boniface had a church erected in Rome under the title of “ Saint-Michael, prince-to-whom-we-pray-for-Peace ”.
In the summer of 1916, the Angel added : « I am the Guardian Angel, the Angel of Portugal. » This is how the apparition responds to Lucy’s firm belief of having seen the « Guardian Angel » in 1915. It is as though he were saying : « I am the “ Guardian Angel ” whom you saw, it really was me. I am the Angel of Portugal. »
King Alfonso Henriques, founder of the nation and of the dynasty, was baptised in a chapel dedicated to St. Michael and chose the Archangel as protector of his armies and realm. Since then, the Chapel of the royal Palace has always been dedicated to him. The national devotion to the Archangel was such that, in 1514 Manuel I asked Pope Leo X to grant his nation a Feast for “ the Guardian Angel of Portugal ”. It was celebrated in July. At the national monastery of Batalha, the Portuguese Saint-Denis, where the Kings of the Avis dynasty are buried, St. Michael, guardian angel of Portugal, was prayed daily.
In the Autumn of 1916, the Angel appeared once again in the Loca do Cabeço. He did not reveal his name, but gave the children the Body and Blood of Jesus.
The Church honours St. Michael as the defender of the Holy Eucharist.
One day when St. Leo was offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, at the moment that he was about to say, « We most humbly beseech You, almighty God, command these offerings to be borne by the hands of Your holy Angel to Your sublime altar », he saw St. Michael descend upon the Altar, take the Sacred Host, and place it upon the heavenly altar before Jesus, and, a while later, place it back upon the altar, saying : « What I have just ostensibly accomplished before your eyes, I do daily, each time Jesus my Lord immolates Himself by the sword of His Word, which He has placed in the hands of his ministers. »
When St. Gerard Majella was twelve years old, he received Holy Communion from the hands of St. Michael, before having received his first Communion.
Finally, there is an ultimate apparition of the Angel, on 13 July 1917 at la Cova da Iria :
« At the left of Our Lady and a little higher up we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand ; it flashed and gave out flames that seemed as though they would set the world on fire ; but they were extinguished on contact with the brilliant light that Our Lady sent toward him with Her right hand ; pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice :
« Penance, Penance, Penance ! »
Several apparitions depict St. Michael as the Angel Exterminans. In 590, the plague was ravaging the city of Rome. To appease God’s wrath, Pope St. Gregory ordered a solemn procession led by the miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin that St. Luke had painted. Barefoot, covered in penitential sackcloth, the holy Pontiff crossed the city to go to St. Peter’s Basilica. Upon arriving on the bridge facing the Tomb of Hadrian, Angels from Heaven were heard singing the Regina Cæli. The people knelt down and St. Gregory concluded the angelic anthem by saying : « Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia ! » At that moment, St. Michael appeared above the mausoleum, holding a bare sword that he sheathed. Thereafter, the plague claimed no other victim. A statue of St. Michael was placed on the summit of the mausoleum, which from then on was called Castel Sant’ Angelo.
The most astonishing event remains : Father Hoyos’ vision, which we excerpt from Brother François’ article :
He saw, on 2 September 1729, « Our Lord seated on His throne, with a most wrathful mien. He hurled with His almighty arm an initial flaming arrowtowards the earth that ravaged everything in its path. Although the Divine Judge was not yet satisfied, the most Blessed Virgin checked His armthat was getting ready to hurl another arrow. “ I then understood how powerful Our Lady’s pleadings are because they can resist God Himself. ”
« This vision continued with another tableau that foreshadowed the great warning of the Third Secret of Fatima : « I saw a new squadron of angels led by St. Michael, who was holding a flaming sword in his hand. Turning towards the earth, in a terrible and frightening voice, which resonated in the air like thunder, he uttered the words of the psalm : “ If you do not repent, God holds in His hand His sword unsheathed in order to strike you ; His bow is bent and is aimed at you, His arrows bring death. They are fiery shafts for killing His enemies. ” »
The Angel of Fatima is therefore St. Michael. It would be surprising, moreover, that this Archangel would be left out of this last and decisive battle (Sister Lucy), after having taken part in all of the past combats.
Yet he did not say his name. Why not ?
We can suggest two reasons. The first lies in his humility. During the first confrontation against Lucifer, St. Michael was but a small angel. But his humility earned him the grace of obtaining from God the strength to stand up to Satan.
In her play The Triumph of Humility, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus shows St. Michael triumphing over Satan by throwing Humility on the scale.
« The practice of humility will be our shield… behold our weapons, our shield ; with this almighty strength, we shall, as new Joans of Arc, chase the foreigner from the realm, in other words, forbid Satan to enter our monasteries. »
At Fatima, St. Michael introduced himself as a simple “ guardian Angel ”, not as Prince of the Heavenly Hosts ; he wore an alb, not armour. And, kneeling on the ground, he taught prayers to the children. Humility, submission to God’s will, is the weapon that will defeat Satan.
The second reason why St. Michael did not reveal his name was that he wished the prominent place be left to the Blessed Virgin. He did not want to cast a shadow over Her ; the only thing that counts is devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is Gods’ will that we obey her demands and that we invoke her as Mediatrix.
Let us repeat Pope Pius X’s beautiful prayer, knowing that, according to St. Alphonsus Liguori, « devotion to St. Michael is a sign of predestination to Heaven : »
« O Mary, our sweet Mediatrix, who are Queen of Heaven and earth, we beseech You humbly, deign always to intercede for us. Ask God to send St. Michael and the angels to push aside all the obstacles that stand in the way of the reign of the Sacred Heart in our souls, in our families, in France and in the whole world.
« And you, O St. Michael, Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, come to us. We ardently appeal to you. Protect us against the unleashed powers of Hell, and through the divine virtue with which you are vested, give victory to the Church here below, and lead our souls to our eternal homeland. Amen.
« Immaculate Heart of Mary, Your Kingdom come ! »
(St. Pius X, 300 days of indulgence, 29 June 1906)
Brother Michael of the Triumphant Immaculate
He is risen ! no 76, January 2009