By S. G. A. LUFF
MAY 8 is traditionally the feast of the Apparition of Saint Michael, now dropped from the universal calendar.
The early Church venerated Michael as a healer, as we still do his fellow archangel Raphael. especially as patron of healing waters, and at Constantinople he even had a church in the hot baths.
In Egypt the waters of the Nile were under his patronage and he has a feast when they rise, June 12.
Every visitor to Rome knows the great Michael with unsheathed sword on the Castle of Sant Angelo. In the sixth century this was only the mausoleum of the Emperor Hadrian, and while Pope Saint Gregory was leading a procession to appeal for relief from a plague he saw Michael over it sheathing his sword, and heard angelic choirs sing the first three lines of the Regina Caeli, to which he replied with the fourth: "Pray for us to God, Alleluia".
The feast of May 8 is the Archangel's apparition on Monte Gargano in Italy, a curious event. In the fifth century a servant sent to put an end to a bull strayed onto the mountain shot at it with an arrow which came back to kill the archer. Subsequently, in a cave still venerated, Michael appeared to the local bishop and asked for a sanctuary to be built in his honour. Other apparitions reserving mountains to Michael are recorded of "Mount Saint Michael in peril of the sea", off the Normandy coast, and our
own Cornish Saint Michael's Mount.
This rather mild Archangel of our illustration dates from about 1300 and is part of an elaborate scheme of mural decoration covering the entire wall and vault of the nuns' choir at Kloster Wienhausen, near Celle in Hanover Province.
The community of Cistercian nuns was never properly dissolved, but because a Lutheran sisterhood, which today retains all the titles and doubtless the revenues of Catholic days without the obligations, but they are very honourable indeed about preserving the treasures of the past, which include a devotion to a lovely sixteenth century Madonna.