We have a special devotion to the archangel Michael, who is found in all three Abrahamic faiths. So it was both intriguing – and not particularly surprising to us – to see his popular name, which means “Who is like God?”, come up in the order for Atlantic Hurricanes established by the World Meteorological Organization. In various traditions, Michael is the victor over Satan in the battle of angels, the Defender of Israel and the Angel of the Apocalypse who will precede Jesus before the Last Judgment. As it turned out, the high-end Category 4 hurricane that bears the same name wreaked apocalyptic damage on the Florida Panhandle and parts of the Deep South. Weather.com has compiled an early list of ways that you can begin to help those suffering from the devastation.
Elsewhere, Michael is both a protean artistic as well as religious figure. Throughout art history, he has been depicted either spearing Satan or weighing the just and the unjust on scales. (Hence his patronage of grocers as well as soldiers and policemen.) His image graces the Peace Fountain at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine but also stands guard atop the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome. Most recently, a panel of the archangel triumphing over Satan – created by the Master of Belmonte (active circa 1460-90) – appeared on both an Alexander McQueen outfit and a jeans jacket designed for “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s blockbuster Spring Costume Institute exhibit. As described on The Met Store website: “The saint’s youthful beauty and sumptuous clothing present a stark contrast between the Church’s strength and splendor and the cowering, evil figure at his feet.”
– Georgette Gouveia