The Shrine of Monte Gargano - 15th Centenary

Br. John Raymond

	In Old Testament times St. Michael was the Guardian of the Hebrew
 nation. It was he who guided them through the desert in the days of
 Moses. Even to this day the Jews invoke St Michael as the principal
 defender of the Synagogue and their protector against their enemies.
	In the New Testament times churches were dedicated to St. Michael
 as far back as 494. During the time of Pope St. Gregory the Great
 (540-604) a deadly disease broke out in Rome. The Pope ordered a
 penitential procession. When they arrived at the bridge crossing the
 Tiber River all heard the songs of angels in the skies. At the same
 time St. Michael appeared above the castle of San Angelo putting his
 sword back into its scabbard. The disease simultaneously came to a
	Further south in Italy on Monte Gargano is the most ancient and
 venerable shrine to St. Michael. In the year 492 Manfredonia was
 being attacked by enemy troops. The Bishop, Lorenzo Majorano,
 succeeded in gaining a truce of three days. But the town's defeat
 seemed inevitable.
	Although the walls of the town were damaged and in need of
 repair, rather than worry about this means of defense, the people
 begged God's warrior, St. Michael the Archangel, to help them
 against the enemy. On the third day St. Michael appeared on the top
 of Monte Gargano with a drawn sword. Immediately a terrible storm
 arose, the earth quaked and the sea roared. Encouraged by this
 Heavenly aid the townspeople went out to attack the enemy and put
 them to flight.
	As a sign of thanksgiving the Bishop resolved to build a shrine
 to St. Michael. Where to build it? The Bishop took the following
 incident as a sign: A runaway bull dashed up the mountain and stood
 still outside a cave in the rock. St. Michael the Archangel appeared
 to the Bishop and said the cave was where the shrine should be
 built. Bishop Lorenzo and six other Bishops walked up the mountain
 in solemn procession. It was September 29th. Seven eagles hovered
 above the Bishops on their way up. On entering the cave, to their
 surprise, they found an altar covered with a cloth. Above the altar
 was a cross of clear crystal rock. Before the altar was a footprint
 in the stone. The Bishops together exclaimed "here the angel has
	This unique shrine has been visited by saints and Popes
 throughout its history. St. Francis of Assisi, out of his great
 reverence for the holiness of the site, would not even dare to enter
 the cave. To this day pilgrims still flock to visit this shrine.


	St. Michael, the Archangel! Glorious Prince, chief and champion
 of the heavenly hosts; guardian of the souls of men; conqueror of
 the rebel angels! How beautiful you are in your heavenly armor. We
 love you, dear Prince of Heaven!
	We yearn to enjoy your special protection. Obtain for us from God
 a share of your sturdy courage; pray that we may have a strong and
 tender love for our Redeemer and, in every danger or temptation, be
 invincible against the enemy of our souls. O standard-bearer of our
 salvation! Be with us in our last moments and when our souls quit
 this earthly exile, carry them safely to the judgement seat of
 Christ, and may Our Lord and Master bid you to bear us speedily to
 the Kingdom of eternal bliss. Teach us ever to repeat your sublime
 cry: "Who is like unto God?" Amen.