Today, on the Feast Day of St Michael, The Catholic Herald selects five shrines dedicated to him around the world.
The Church will today celebrate the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, and the Archangels. This year is also the 130th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII directing that the prayer to St Michael be said after every Low Mass. Following the changes in 1964 the prayer largely fell out of use and resulted in a decline of devotion to St Michael and awareness of the need to pray for his protection.
However, throughout the world today there is still a strong commitment to invoke this great protector. Here are five shrines.
St Michael’s Cave, Gargano, Italy
St Francis of Assisi believed that this shrine was so holy that he would not enter it. Many have claimed that it is one of the holiest places in Italy. It has always been a place that has drawn the saints to pray, including St Bridget of Sweden, St Bernard of Clarvaux, St Padre Pio, and at least seven popes.
The origins of the shrine lie in the story of an apparition of St Michael. In 490AD a man lost his prize bull and after much searching found it in a cave kneeling down. Despite his efforts to get to the bull he was unable to do so and decided to kill the bull with a bow and arrow.
Rather than striking the bull the arrow turned around and struck the farmer instead. The man was so frightened and perplexed by this supernatural event that he went to see the Bishop. The Bishop was doubtful and decided to take no action.
Several years later the Bishop’s city and diocese was at risk of attack from an invading army. St Michael this time appeared to the Bishop promising that the townspeople would not be defeated if a church was built over the cave. The Bishop’s doubts still prevailed and no church was built.
Chapel of St Michael, Kilmhil, Ireland
St Michael’s Church is thought to have been founded by St Senan in 550AD, who gave the Church its dedication. After a number of years the church fell into disrepair and became a ruin.