> Date: 30 Sep 96 10:02:50 EDT
> From: David Van Meter <[log in to unmask]>
> To: medieval-religion <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: weighing of souls
> Reply-to: [log in to unmask]
The best thing I know on the cult of St Michael is:
Millenaire monastique du Mont-Saint-Michel
3 vols Paris,1971
and also useful:
A.A.Bialas, The Patronage of St Michael the Archangel
> To: internet:[log in to unmask]
> The cult of saint Michael would seem to have been very popular in the
> monasteries of the Low Countries and Lorraine during the late Carolingian
> period and into the 11th century. I've seen liturgical, exegetical and
> visionary texts that assign to him the following roles, in addition to those
> already mentioned of psychopomp, protector of the chosen people, weigher of
> souls, etc.:
> 1. Slayer of the dragon. This was interpreted by some (following, perhaps,
> Cassiodorus) as a reference to Michael's role at the Creation; most often it
> stood in reference to the victory over the devil that occured with the Passion
> and Resurrection; very commonly, too, it was held to refer to Michael's role of
> slaying the dragon (and/or the Antichrist in some texts) at the End of the
> world. Interestingly, some antiphons conflate the silence in heaven of Apoc.
> 8:1 with the defeat of the dragon in Apoc. 12:7-10 (i.e., "factum est
> silentium in coelo dum committeret bellum draco cum Michael archangelo, et
> audita est vox milia milium decentium Salus honor et virtus omnipotenti Deo").
> 2. Some liturgical texts seem to build upon Bede's exegesis of the
> Apoc. so as to insinuate for Michael a role in the Incarnation; even as Gabriel
> passes on the glad news to Mary, Michael stands before the temple and pours out
> the censer which is full of Christ's humanity (Apoc. 8:3-4).
> 3. One monk, Christian of Stavelot, built upon the fact that most of the
> dates for #1 and #2 fell on March 25th to conclude that the world would also
> end on a March 25th which falls on Easter Sunday.
> 4. Michael is not to be an impassioned and "honest" weigher of souls on the
> Final Judgement, according to some texts. One family of antiphons distinctly
> asks Michael to save the souls in the Great Judgement, and some visionary texts
> claim that after the weighing and judging, Michael is to team up with Mary and
> some other saints to "snatch" some of the souls from the ranks of damned, and
> return them to the ranks of the saved. Aren't there some tympana that have
> Michael cheating during the weighing of souls by pushing up on the pans from
> below? or am I thinking of that old Rockwell painting of the sweet old lady and
> the kindly butcher cheating each the other over a chicken?
> 5. Michael, again in cooperation with Mary and the Apostles, has also saved
> the world from destruction with his prayers on several times that a very angry
> God had scheduled the Final Judgement (usually for a day in November or
> September), according to the Carta Dominica as well as several visionary texts.
> Dave Van Meter