SEVEN SANCTUARIES DEDICATED TO SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL FROM IRELAND TO ISRAEL – Mystic and enigmatic

– Miguel Augusto (*)

Strikingly and mysteriously, a straight line is revealed that goes from Ireland to Israel, uniting seven monasteries and sanctuaries related to St Michael the Archangel. Is it mere coincidence, or is it a divine sign and providence? Long distances separate the seven sanctuaries, but they are aligned in an almost perfect and astonishing way.

The line begins in Ireland, in a deserted island where the Archangel Michael appeared to Saint Patrick in order to help him free the country from the attacks of the devil. It is on this island that the first monastery rises: the one of “Skellig Michael” or “Sceilig Mhichíl,” in the Gaelic language (“Rock of Michael”).

The monastery may have been founded in the sixth century, supposedly by Saint Fionán, but the first definitive reference to the monks in the “Skelligs” dates back to the eighth century.

The splendid panorama and landscape of this island and the ruins of this monastery (Christian shrine) was chosen for one of the recent films of the Star Wars saga.

Turning south, this line passes through “St Michael’s Mount” in England: a Cornish islet which, at low tide, has access to land on the other shore. In this place, tradition relates that St Michael spoke to a group of fishermen.

The line then proceeds to France, crossing another famous island that is also linked to land at low tides: the spectacular “Mont Saint-Michel,” another place where there was an appearance of the Archangel Michael, more than a thousand and three hundred years ago, in 709 AD. The Archangel appeared, according to tradition, to the bishop of Avranches, Saint Aubert, requesting the construction of the sanctuary. Work began immediately, but the Benedictine abbey was only completed in the tenth century. The beauty and historical and artistic richness of this sanctuary and its bay off the coast of Normandy make it one of the most visited tourist sites in all of France, and it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. “Mont Saint-Michel” is surrounded by strong mysticism since the High Middle Ages.

About a thousand kilometres away, in the Piedmont Val di Susa, stands the fourth sanctuary: the “Sacra di San Michele” (pronounced “Mikéle” in Italian). This impressive ten-hundred-year old complex, consisting of a monastery and a church, was built between 983 AD and 987 AD on a massive rock in the Val de Susa in the Piedmont region, approximately forty kilometres from Turin. Throughout the centuries, new structures were added, such as the inn built by the Benedictine monks, since the holy place was on the route of the pilgrims of the Via Francigena, an ancient road that went from France to Rome.

On the night of January 24, 2018, a major fire broke out, causing serious damage to the roof of this ancient abbey, which was under restoration. Historical, cultural, and sacred art treasures seem to have been spared from destruction.

In the course of a thousand kilometres in the straight line that we approach and unites these sanctuaries, one arrives at the Italian region of Puglia, more precisely at Monte Gargano. Here, a cave of difficult access became a sacred place, one can find the Sanctuary of St. Michael the Archangel, begun in the distant year of 490 AD, where numerous miracles and conversions have already taken place. This is a unique place that by tradition is consecrated by Archangel Michael himself and his Angels.

Leaving Italy, and continuing along this line, we reach the sixth sanctuary, the “Symi’s Monastery,” now on the Greek island of Symi: here the monastery houses one of the largest statues of the Archangel Michael, three meters in height.

At the end of this mysterious journey, the line ends in Israelite territory, in a place of great religious symbolism: Mount Carmel Monastery in Haifa. The place has been revered since antiquity, but the construction of the Christian shrine dates back to the twelfth century. Carmel, meaning “garden,” is a chain of hills that end at a promontory near Haifa in Israel, a place of worship from antiquity, quoted by the prophet Isaiah (the beauty of Mount Carmel, Isaiah 35:2) among the gifts of God to His people.

Five centuries after Moses, Elijah, a man of God, lived here in solitude, clothed in furs, and wore a leather belt around his kidneys (2 Kings 1:8), as John the Baptist curiously did at the time of Jesus.

Over the centuries, the Order of Carmel has endowed Christendom with countless spiritual treasures: it is enough to think of the exemplary lives and teachings of St Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross, or St Therese of Lisieux – three Doctors of the Church.

It is indeed surprising to note the disposition of the seven shrines related to St Michael the Archangel along this straight line that curiously is perfectly aligned with the west on the day of the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere.

Another curious aspect is that the three most important sanctuaries of this mysterious line are separated from each other at the same distance: the beautiful and famous abbey of “Mont Saint Michel,” the “Sacra di San Michele,” and the sanctuary of “Monte Sant’Angelo.”

Over the centuries, St Michael the Archangel has been depicted in sacred art, from painting to sculpture, appearing to us with a sword in hand and a dragon’s head, a symbol of Satan (Lucifer), under his feet. This line connecting the shrines to St Michael the Archangel is often associated with the sword blow that the Archangel inflicted on the devil in the battle between the faithful angels and the rebellious angels who, led by Lucifer, had turned against God.

Could this line drawn on the earthly globe be a message of the Archangel Michael, so that, in the designs of God, the faithful invoke his protection and become aware of his great intercession against the forces of evil?

Saint Michael the Archangel invoked by the Popes

Pope Leo XIII, after having had a vision of the battle between the “Woman clothed with the sun” and the great dragon (Revelation 12:1-12), composed a prayer in 1886 to St. Michael the Archangel and decreed that it should be pronounced at the end of every Holy Mass in all the churches throughout the world. This prayer became known worldwide and today is used by the faithful. With the Second Vatican Council, the practice of reciting this prayer at the end of the Mass was revoked, but the faithful continued their devotion in a particular way to this prayer until today.

In 1994, Pope John Paul II called for prayer to St Michael the Archangel during the International Year of the Family. The Holy Father asked all Catholics to pray this prayer daily, to overcome the forces of darkness and evil in the world, warning that the fate of humanity was in danger.

On 5 July 2013, Pope Francis in the presence of Benedict XVI in the Vatican Gardens inaugurated a statue of St Michael the Archangel, patron saint of the Vatican City State, and said that the work is “an invitation to reflection and prayer. Michael – meaning: ‘Who is like God’ – strives to restore divine justice; defends the People of God of its enemies and above all of the enemy par excellence, the devil. And St. Michael wins, because in him God acts.”

In October 2018, Pope Francis called on the faithful throughout the world to the need for the daily prayer of the Rosary, calling on the intercession of the Virgin Mary and St Michael the Archangel to protect the Church from the devil in these times of crisis.

St Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!

(*) with Aleteia and Vatican

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