Throughout the centuries, St. Michael the Archangel has remained God’s warrior angel of peace. Michael arose from celestial obscurity to put an end to Lucifer’s and his henchmen’ rebellion. Michael, whose name means “Who is like God?” in Latin, Quis ut Deus?, demolished Lucifer’s scream of “Non Serviam!” — “I will not serve!” — to the point where Christ said, “I have seen Satan fall like lightning from the heavens” (Lk 10:18).
The conflict in heaven, of which the Book of Revelation speaks: “Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon,” did not end St. Michael’s thwarting of the evil one and all his activities. The dragon and its angels battled back, but they were defeated, and their seat in heaven was taken away. The enormous dragon, the old serpent known as the Devil and Satan, who deceived the entire universe, was flung down to earth, together with its angels” (Rv 12:7-9).
Each human soul serves as a battleground for Satan to deceive and seduce. It is one that is “waged every day: it is waged in the hearts of men and women,” as Pope Francis put it. Despite the fact that he has already been beaten and will never be able to overthrow God, Satan continues to try to seduce souls blinded by ego and passion for sin in his haphazard attempt to shift hearts and minds away from God.
The secret realm of sin is always outweighed and outshined by the virtues of St. Michael the Archangel. Michael’s pursuit of those who mocked God was motivated by devotion, humility, and unwavering faith – weapons far more formidable than anything Satan can conjure.
Not just Satan, but life’s trials: even in the midst of health crises, plagues, and pandemics, the holy Godhead dispatched St. Michael to bring strength and hope to a beleaguered people. Even when a situation seemed hopeless or catastrophic, God’s constant presence encouraged the faithful to stay firm, united, and to put on the armor of God (cf. Eph 6:10).
In the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, when millions of people over the world get the virus, hundreds of thousands die, and scores of families and livelihoods are thrown into disarray as a result, St. Michael the Archangel stands ready to save humanity once more.
Here are a few examples throughout Church history when St. Michael interceded during times of plagues.
It was the Dark Ages at the time. Pelagius II, Pope Gregory’s immediate predecessor, died of the plague that ravaged the Eternal City. Gregory had to rely on spiritual sustenance because there was little material aid left to help the Roman people.
On the morning of April 25, 590, the pope led a penitential procession through the abandoned streets of Rome, a picture Pope Francis replicated in his March 15, 2020 walking pilgrimage through an abandoned Rome. The feast of St. Mark is celebrated on April 25 in the present Church calendar, however Pope Gregory originally designated that day as the Greater Litanies.
The people were so unwell on April 25 when the pope carried the sacred icon of Our Lady of Santa Maria Maggiore that some in the procession fell. A celestial choir, intoning the Regina Caeli, directed the procession’s eyes skywards as it crossed the Aelian Bridge across the Tiber in the shadow of Hadrian’s mausoleum — the vast, towering stronghold built for the Roman Emperor Hadrian in A.D. 135 —
Gregory then saw above Hadrian’s mausoleum the glorious and fearless St. Michael in the process of cleaning blood from his sword and sheathing it, according to the Legenda Aurea, an immensely popular collection of stories gathered by chronicler-priest (and archbishop of Genoa) Jacobus Voragine (1228-98). The disease is said to have ceased at that point.
Hadrian’s tomb is today known as Castel Sant’Angelo, and a statue of St. Michael stands atop its parapet, punctuating the Roman sky.
A pandemic ravaged Mexico in 1631. On April 25, the Greater Litanies procession was held at the village of San Bernabe in the little state of Tlaxcala, much as Pope Leo oversaw on that same day in 590. Smallpox decimated the municipality of Nativitas in 1631, much as the plague ravaged the Roman population that year. Diego Lazaro, a 17-year-old teenager, was one of many who contracted the sickness. Diego did, however, take part in the sombre procession. St. Michael appeared again on April 25, 590, but only to Diego Lazaro.
In the apparition, Michael directed Diego to a spring of water that would cure individuals suffering from smallpox. Diego Lazaro, on the other hand, preferred to disregard the incident. He was anointed and given the last rites as his condition deteriorated. Michael reappeared at that precise time, taking Diego to the amazing spring.
The date of Diego Lazaro’s second apparition was May 8, 1631, a feast day for St. Michael in the Church calendar. The miraculous spring was soon discovered by the general public, and three government inquiries determined that Diego was not making up the story. The spring was renamed St. Michael’s Well once the residents of the area regained their health. San Miguel del Milagro — the Miracle of St. Michael — is the name of the place in Nativitas where Diego Lazaro restored hope to his beleaguered people.
The St. Michael Sanctuary on Monte Gargano in Italy is the world’s oldest shrine devoted to the archangel. The residents of the region were decimated by a disease in 1656. Bishop Alfonso Puccinelli prayed and fasted to St. Michael for some sort of miraculous intervention, if it was God’s will. On Sept. 22, while the bishop was praying in his room, Michael appeared to him and told him to engrave a mark on the grotto stones.
The stones were then to be blessed and delivered to the people of the region by Bishop Puccinelli. The pestilence would not affect anyone who had such a stone. The epidemic was quickly eradicated. Bishop Puccinelli was so grateful that he had a monument built in the town plaza with the inscription:
Venerable Philomena de Santa Colomba
In the 19th century, a holy woman named Venerable by Pope Leo XIII was helpful in teaching devotion to St. Michael. Philomena saw visions similar to those given to the peasant children of Fátima in the following century: images of a world in disarray, with three-quarters of the planet afflicted by plagues and violence. Even if a nation will soon capture the Eternal City in her lifetime, Philomena was assured in one vision that the pope would not be compelled to flee Rome.
St. Michael appeared to Philomena in another vision a year before she died, telling her to “make known to men the immense power which I have with the Most High.” Tell them they can ask me anything they want. Tell them that my power in favor of those who love me knows no bounds. “Make my brilliance known.”
God had been preparing Philomena for this mission by instilling a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mary Immaculate, and St. Michael in her heart. “This new Trinity, like the Unity of the Three Divine Persons in Heaven, must be blessed and celebrated on earth,” she is instructed. Happy is the nation, happy is the country, happy is the monastery that will be fueled by this devotion.”
Scripture, Church tradition, miracles, apparitions, and unceasing prayer have all attested to St. Michael’s glory. He is still willing to help at this hour, at this time, if we only ask for it.