by Andrew Pacholyk MS LAc.
The feast of Saint Michael, also known as Michaelmas, is a significant event celebrated by various cultures around the world. This article will provide factual and spiritual insights into this feast, including rituals both globally and at home that you can partake in to honor and celebrate the saint.
Globally, the feast of Saint Michael is commemorated in different ways. In Western Christianity, it is observed on September 29th, while in Eastern Orthodoxy, it is celebrated on November 8th. Many churches and religious communities hold special Masses or services dedicated to Saint Michael Archangel, emphasizing his role as a protector and warrior against evil.
One of the most famous rituals associated with the feast of Saint Michael is the tradition of eating a goose in some European countries like England and Germany. This custom dates back to medieval times when tenants would present a goose as a tribute to their landlord on Michaelmas. It symbolized prosperity, and the day also marked the end of the harvest season.
Another fascinating tradition takes place in Cornwall, England, where the “Furry Dance” is performed on the feast of Saint Michael. People, dressed in colorful costumes, participate in a procession led by a “Lord and Lady of the Dance.” The dance involves specific steps and patterns and is accompanied by traditional music. It is believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits.
The three most famous sanctuaries devoted to St. Michael are:
1. Mont Saint-Michel: Located in Normandy, France, Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most iconic sanctuaries dedicated to St. Michael. This medieval masterpiece is perched on a rocky island and is known for its stunning abbey, intricate architecture, and breathtaking views. It attracts millions of visitors each year and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
2. Sacra di San Michele: Situated on Mount Pirchiriano in Piedmont, Italy, the Sacra di San Michele is another renowned sanctuary devoted to St. Michael. This majestic abbey dates back to the 10th century and is known for its strategic location overlooking the Susa Valley. It is a popular pilgrimage site and offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
3. St. Michael’s Mount: Located in Cornwall, England, St. Michael’s Mount is a famous island sanctuary dedicated to St. Michael. It features a medieval castle and a stunning garden, making it a must-visit attraction. Accessible by a causeway during low tide or by boat during high tide, this sanctuary offers visitors a unique and enchanting experience.
Each of these sanctuaries provides a spiritual refuge for devotees of St. Michael, as well as an opportunity to explore their rich history and architectural wonders.
Now, let’s explore some home rituals that you can do to represent and celebrate Saint Michael.
1. Lighting a candle: Begin by lighting a white or blue candle, representing purity and spiritual protection. Place it on a small altar or sacred space within your home.
2. Prayer and meditation: Take a few moments to reflect on the virtues and significance of Saint Michael. Offer a heartfelt prayer for guidance, protection, and courage in your daily life.
3. Reading scripture or spiritual texts: Engage in spiritual reading, focusing on passages that mention Saint Michael or reflect his qualities and actions. This can deepen your understanding of his role and inspire you on your spiritual journey.
4. Creating an altar: Set up a dedicated altar corner or table with items associated with Saint Michael, such as an image or statue of the saint, angelic symbols, or objects that hold personal meaning for you. Arrange them thoughtfully and with reverence.
5. Cooking a symbolic meal: Consider preparing a special meal on the feast of Saint Michael that includes traditional ingredients like goose, apples, or blackberries. Incorporate these symbolic foods into your dishes as a way of honoring the traditions surrounding the feast.
6. Create a scent just for him: Discover the power of essential oils or make your own signature perfume with such oils as sage, cedarwood, ginger, clove, or myrrh. Or blend some of your favorite oils or scents along the way.
Remember, the feast of Saint Michael is not just a commemoration but also an opportunity to connect with the spiritual realm and cultivate virtues associated with the saint. By participating in both global and home rituals, you can deepen your appreciation for Saint Michael’s role and seek his intercession in your life.