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Easter: May 8th
Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Other Commemorations: Apparition of St. Michael the Archangel; St. Acathius, martyr (RM)
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According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of the apparition of St. Michael. The feast commemorates an apparition of St. Michael on the summit of Monte Gargano, in Italy on the Adriatic coast, and the dedication of the sanctuary built on the site of the apparition. It is also the feast of St. Acathius, a priest at Sebaste, Armenia, during Diocletian's persecution.
Apparition of St. Michael
It is evident from Holy Scripture that God is pleased to make frequent use of the ministry of the heavenly spirits in the dispensations of His providence in this world. The Angels are all pure spirits; by a property of their nature, they are immortal, as is every spirit. They have the power of moving or conveying themselves at will from place to place, and such is their activity that it is not easy for us to conceive of it. Among the holy Archangels, Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael are particularly distinguished in the Scriptures. Saint Michael, whose name means Who is like unto God?, is the prince of the faithful Angels who opposed Lucifer and his followers in their revolt against God. Since the devil is the sworn enemy of God’s holy Church, Saint Michael is given to it by God as its special protector against the demon’s assaults and stratagems.
Various apparitions of this powerful Angel have proved the protection of Saint Michael over the Church. We may mention his apparition in Rome, where Saint Gregory the Great saw him in the air sheathing his sword, to signal the cessation of a pestilence and the appeasement of God’s wrath. Another apparition to Saint Aubert, bishop of Avranches in France, led to the construction of Mont-Saint-Michel in the sea, a famous pilgrimage site. May 8th
, however, is destined to recall another no less marvelous apparition, occurring near Monte Gargano in the Kingdom of Naples.
In the year 492, a man named Gargan was pasturing his large herds in the countryside. One day a bull fled to the mountain, where it could not be found. When its refuge in a cave was discovered, an arrow was shot into the cave, but the arrow returned to wound the one who had sent it. Faced with this mysterious occurrence, the persons concerned decided to consult the bishop of the region. He ordered three days of fasting and prayers. After three days, the Archangel Michael appeared to the bishop and declared that the cavern where the bull had taken refuge was under his protection and that God wanted it to be consecrated under his name and in honor of all the Holy Angels.
Accompanied by his clergy and people, the pontiff went to that cavern, which he found already disposed in the form of a church. The divine mysteries were celebrated there, and there arose in this same place a magnificent temple where the divine Power has wrought great miracles. To thank God’s adorable goodness for the protection of the holy Archangel, the effect of His merciful Providence, this feast day was instituted by the Church in his honor.
It is said of this special guardian and protector of the Church that, during the final persecution of Antichrist, he will powerfully defend it:
“At that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince who protects the children of thy people.”
— Excerpted from Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints
, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints
and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année
, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950).
St. Achatius, is one of the Holy Helpers who, as a Roman soldier, died for Christ. He was a native of Cappadocia and as a youth joined the Roman army during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, attaining the rank of captain. One day, when leading his company against the enemy, he heard a voice saying to him, "Call on the God of Christians!" He obeyed, was instructed, and received Baptism. Filled with zeal, he henceforth sought to convert also the pagan soldiers of the army. When the emperor heard of this, Achatius was thrown into prison, then placed on the rack, bound to a post and scourged, because he refused to offer sacrifice to the idols. When all these tortures availed nothing, he was brought before the tribune Bibianus.
Asked by him what was his name and country, Achatius replied, "My name is Christian because I am a follower of Christ; men call me Achatius. My country is Cappadocia. There my parents lived; there I was converted to the Christian faith, and was so inspired by the combats and sufferings of the Christian Martyrs that I am resolved to shed my blood for Christ to attain heaven." Then Bibianus ordered him to be beaten with leaden clubs, after which he was loaded with chains and returned to the prison.
After Achatius had been in prison seven days, Bibianus was called to Byzantium and ordered all prisoners to be transported there. On the journey Achatius suffered greatly, for his entire body was covered with wounds, his chains were galling, the guards were cruel and the roads were bad. He thought himself dying. Praying to God, a voice from the clouds answered him, "Achatius, be firm!" The soldiers of the guard were terrified and asked each other, "What is this? How can the clouds have a voice?" Many prisoners were converted. The next day some of the converts saw a number of men in shining armor speaking to Achatius, washing his wounds and healing them, so that not even a scar remained.
Arrived in Byzantium the Saint was again cast into prison, and after seven days dragged before the judge. When neither promises nor the cruelest torments shook the constancy of the brave confessor of the Faith, the judge sent him to Flaccus, the proconsul of Thracia, who imprisoned him for five days and meanwhile read the records of his former trials. Then he ordered him to be beheaded. Achatius suffered death for Christ on May 8, 311.
Note: St. Achatius' name is also spelled Acacius. He is invoked for headaches. — Excerpted from the The Fourteen Holy Helpers
by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, O.F.M.Patron:
Against headaches and at the time of death's agony.Symbols:
Pictured with a crown of thorns.Things to Do: