Saturday, September 29, 2012

Henry Adams and St. Michael the Archangel

From the first chapter of Henry Adams' Mont Saint Michel and Chartres:

The Archangel loved heights. Standing on the summit of the tower
that crowned his church, wings upspread, sword uplifted, the devil
crawling beneath, and the cock, symbol of eternal vigilance, perched
on his mailed foot, Saint Michael held a place of his own in heaven
and on earth which seems, in the eleventh century, to leave hardly
room for the Virgin of the Crypt at Chartres, still less for the
Beau Christ of the thirteenth century at Amiens. The Archangel
stands for Church and State, and both militant. He is the conqueror
of Satan, the mightiest of all created spirits, the nearest to God.
His place was where the danger was greatest; therefore you find him
here. For the same reason he was, while the pagan danger lasted, the
patron saint of France. So the Normans, when they were converted to
Christianity, put themselves under his powerful protection. So he
stood for centuries on his Mount in Peril of the Sea, watching
across the tremor of the immense ocean,-immensi tremor oceani,-as
Louis XI, inspired for once to poetry, inscribed on the collar of
the Order of Saint Michael which he created. So soldiers, nobles,
and monarchs went on pilgrimage to his shrine; so the common people
followed, and still follow, like ourselves.
Seems required reading on this Feast of the Archangels!

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