A War Broke Out in Heaven


“Now a war broke out in Heaven. Michael and his Angels fought against the dragon and his angels.” (Rev. 12:7)

St. Michael soars above the Heavens bearing the Veil of the true image of the Face of Christ. 1516, Albrecht Durer

Mankind is in the midst of a battle, which has been fought since the beginning of Creation; between Christ’s Angels and the fallen angels or demons.  When God created the angels, they were tested before they could see Him face to face.  “God created man in His image; in the divine image he created him; male and female He created them.” (Gen. 1:27) It is believed that it was revealed to the angels that God would become a man and not an angel. Then, Lucifer, being a proud spirit, responded “Non Serviam!” — I will not serve! St. Michael answered with the battlecry “Who is like God?” St. Michael and the Holy Angels have been given the authority from God by the power of His Holy Name to protect and defend God’s people against both human and diabolical enemies

St. Veronica column in St. Peter’s Basilica

There is a strong association between St. Michael and the devotion to the Face of Christ. For many centuries St. Michael was depicted with the Sudarium Veil of the Face of Jesus. Devotion to the Face of Jesus is meant to repair mankind’s broken relationship with God, manifested in the world by the evil of blasphemy, sacrilege, and indifference.  This work of reparation honoring His Holy Face and His Name–which is the concrete sign of God’s existence and our relationship with Him–has been given the protection and help of the Holy Angels. Sr. Marie St. Pierre was a French Discalced Carmelite nun to whom Our Lord gave revelations of the Devotion to His Holy Face.  She wrote on November 18, 1843:

“One day during prayer, our Lord warned me in advance about the fury of Satan against the holy devotion [to the Holy Face of Jesus], but He also consoled me, saying: ‘I give you My Name to be your light in the darkness and your strength in battle. Satan will do all in his power to crush this Work at its roots. But I assure you that the Holy Name of God will triumph, and it will be the Holy Angels who willl gain the victory in the conflict.” 

Engraving by Albercht Durer
Church of St. Michael/Sanctuary Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello (photo: Paul Badde)

St. Michael is named as the primary patron of devotion to the Holy Face.  This is reflected in many ancient works of art in churches where St. Michael or the Holy Angels are portrayed holding the Veil of the Face of Christ. A fascinating article was written by Gelsimo Del Guercio (here) about seven sanctuaries, dedicated to St. Michael, which are linked by a straight line called the “Sword of St. Michael.” The imaginary line “represents the blow with which St. Michael sent the devil to hell.”  I would like to add an eighth Sanctuary to the list: The church of the Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello. In God’s mysterious design this sanctuary, which contains a miraculous veil of the Face of Jesus, was named for St. Michael though no one who is alive today remembers why. The sanctuary, in Manoppello, Italy, falls at the center, on a map, of the legendary “Sword of St. Michael.”  St. Michael and the Holy Angels come to our aid and they are bearing His Holy Face!

Holy Face Veil of Manoppello, in the Church of St. Michael, Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face, photo: Patricia Enk

There is a hard battle being fought all around us in the Heavens and on earth. We would do well, therefore, to imitate St. Michael, Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, who humbly chose as his weapons to adore the Holy Face and invoke the Holy Name of God!

Detail of St. Michael sculpture holding the Holy Face by Cody Swanson
Angels adoring the Holy Face of Jesus, Venice, Illustration for the Divine Comedy of Dante, 13th Century”

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