Three different religions mention St. Michael the Archangel – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. They all emphasize his closeness to God. Some even state that he is “Like God.”
According to early Judaism, Michael has always acted as an advocate for Israel and had to often fight with the princes of other nations, particularly with Satan. According to Wikipedia, Michael’s fight with Samael (Satan) dates back to the time when Satan was thrown down from heaven. While going down, Satan took hold of Michael’s wings and wished to bring Michael down with him, but God saved Michael. It seems Michael also had a dispute with Satan over the soul of Moses.
Roman Catholics consider St. Michael to be the leader of the army of heavenly angels, guarding the gates of heaven. He is often depicted as slaying a dragon (Satan, the devil). He is said to have four major roles – 1. He is a spiritual warrior and leader of Army of God. His job is to protect heaven. 2. As the angel of death, he carries the souls of all the deceased to heaven. He appears at the hour of death and gives each soul an opportunity to redeem itself. 3 He appears with perfectly balanced scales and weights each soul. 4. He is the guardian of the church.
In Islam, he’s called Mikhail – one of God’s archangels responsible for the forces of nature.
September 29th is generally said to be the feast of St. Michael. It’s also the feast of the other two archangels – Gabriel, and Raphael.
One of the oldest churches in Goa is St. Michael’s Church in Bardez’s Anjuna region. It was built way back in 1613. Since Sunday 1st October was the first Sunday after the 29th. The parishioners celebrated the feast of St Michael with a Solemn High Mass at 9 am that day. After the mass the statue of St. Michael was carried in a procession around the church.
For the parishioners, it is an occasion of grand celebration. Many stalls that sell traditional sweets are set up around the church and special food is cooked in every home. There was also a classic tiatr performance in the evening.
There was a time when the parishioners living outside Goa, especially in Mumbai, got together at St. Michael’s Church in Mahim and held a social gathering under the organization of the Anjuna Union. Parishioners now residing in different places around the world do their best to uphold this tradition.
May St. Michael protect them always, and may he protect all of us, too.