In the legends of St. Michael we read that in the sixth century, when the plague was raging in Rome, and processions threaded the streets chanting the service since known as the Great Litanies, the Archangel Michael appeared, hovering over the city. He alighted on the summit of the Mausoleum of Hadrian and sheathed his sword, from which blood was dripping. From that hour the plague was stayed, and from that day the Mausoleum, which is surmounted by a statue of the Archangel, has been called the Castle of Sant’ Angelo.
The legends also give an account of two appearances of St. Michael when he commanded the erection of churches—one at Monte Galgano, on the east coast of Italy, and the second at Avranches in Normandy. The first site was found to cover a wonderful stream of water, which cured many diseases, and made the church of Monte Galgano a much frequented place of pilgrimage.
The church in Normandy is on the celebrated Mont Saint Michael, and is famous in all Christian countries. From the time when the angel appeared to St. Aubert, the bishop, and commanded him
to build the church, this saint was greatly venerated in France, and was made patron of France and of the order which St. Louis instituted in his honor.
The first church erected in England was small, but Richard of Normandy and William the Conqueror raised a magnificent abbey, which overlooked the most picturesque scenery, and for this reason, if no other, remains a much frequented spot
The old English coin called an angel was so named from the representation of St. Michael which was stamped upon it.
Announcement of the Death of the Virgin Mary by Fra Filippo Lippi
The pictures of St Michael announcing to the Virgin Mary the time of her death, bear so strong a resemblance to those of the Annunciation, that it is necessary to remember that these have the
symbols of a palm on a lighted taper in the hand of the angel, instead of the lily of the Archangel Gabriel, as is seen in our illustration of a beautiful picture in the Florentine Academy.
The legend relates that on a certain day the heart of Mary was filled with an inexpressible longing to see her Son, and she wept sorely, when an angel clothed in light appeared before her, saluting her, and saying, “Hail, O Mary! Blessed by Him who hath given salvation to Israel! I bring thee here a branch of palm gathered in paradise; command that it be carried before thy bier in the day of thy death, for in three days thy soul shall leave thy body, and thou shalt enter into paradise where thy Son awaits thy coming.”
Mary answering, said, “If I have found grace in thy sight tell me thy name, and grant that the Apostles may be reunited to me, that in their presence I may give up my soul to God. Also, I pray thee, that after death my soul may not be affrighted by any spirit of darkness, nor any evil angel be given power over me.”
And the archangel replied, “My name is the Great and Wonderful. Doubt not that the Apostles shall be with thee to-day, for he who transported the prophet Habakkuk by the hair of his head to the lions’ den, can also bring hither the Apostles. Fear thou not the evil spirit, for thou hast bruised his head, and destroyed his kingdom.” And the angel departed, and the palm branch shed light from every leaf and sparkled as the stars of heaven.
And the duty of the archangel was thus fulfilled until he should again appear as Lord of Souls to receive the spirit of the Virgin, to guard it until it should again inhabit her sinless body.
Source: Clement, Clara Erskine. Angels in Art. Boston: L. C. Page and Company, 1898.