Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel, September 29

Still playing catch-up with the Saints Days.

This day is the anniversary of the dedication of the Basilica of St. Michael and the Catholic Church would honor him and all the angels who were faithful to God. It’s called the Feast of St. Michael these days and used to be called Michaelmas.

Introit: Ps. 102, 20. Bless the Lord all ye His angels: you who are mighty in strength, and execute His Word, hearkening to the voice of His orders. (etc)

Now, St. Michael is a badass in folk Catholicism and in hoodoo. St. Michael’s name was the name other angels traded on. Gabriel credits Michael with being the Prince of Angels in the Book of Daniel (though theologians have never come to a consensus on just where Michael ranks in all those disputed hierarchies).

In contemporary iconography, you usually see St. Michael slaying Satan in the guise of dragon. He mostly has his Badass status back (for a while there, a few hundred years ago, he was mostly called on as a healer rather than a warrior). So these days, among the more Catholic-influenced strains of hoodoo (like around New Orleans), you’ll see his image above doors.

Here’s a hymn I copied from somewhere on the back of an envelope and failed to note the source (sorry):

Commander of the armies of God and minister of divine glory, Prince of the bodiless angels and guide of men: Ask what is good for us and for great mercy, O Supreme commander of the bodiless hosts.

And here’s Pope Leo XIII’s prayer to him:

Saint Michael, Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

August 22 is the feast day of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

What is this immaculate heart? Well, perhaps counter-intuitively, it’s that sacred heart-looking image you see in tattoos and in Catholic art, sometimes aflame, and/or pierced by (a) sword(s), and/or roses, lilies, and/or thorns. It’s sometimes pictured alone and sometimes in the anatomically correct place over the clothing of the Blessed Mother. (Jesus sometimes has a very similar one — his is usually “The Sacred Heart of Jesus” and hers is “The Immaculate Heart of Mary.”)

It’s immaculate in the sense of spotless purity, love, and devotion to her son.

A novena from the back of a prayer card I’ve got illustrates some of the qualities associated with the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

Most Blessed Mother, heart of love, heart of mercy, ever listening, caring, consoling, hear our prayer. As your children, we implore your intercession with Jesus your Son. Receive with understanding and compassion the petitions we place before you today, especially …(special intention) We are comforted in knowing your heart is ever open to those who ask for your prayer. We trust to your gentle care and intercession, those whom we love and who are sick or lonely or hurting. Help all of us, Holy Mother, to bear our burdens in this life until we may share eternal life and peace with God forever. Amen.

Because of the iconography, the symbols of this devotion are sometimes associated in vodou with Erzulie Freda.