The path of one of the three archangels – St. Michael, leading God’s armies – can be traced to the East. His cult combines the characteristics of Mitra, Hermes and Hercules. Seven monasteries, dedicated to this unique “holy warrior”, were built almost equidistantly on an imaginary line symbolizing the sword with which Archangel Michael defeated Lucifer.
1. Skellig Michael, South Ireland
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At the end of the 5th century AD. the cult of St. Michael spread throughout Europe, reaching the Irish coast. The reason for this was the appearance of St. Michael to the Bishop of San Lorenzo Maiorano in 490 AD. This miracle caused a stir among the religious people, thanks to which a magnificent monastery was built on Skellig Island. Soon this sacred structure became a place of international pilgrimage.
2. St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall
Photo: Hans Splinter/flickr (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/)
Photo: maxpixel.freegreatpicture (CC0 Public Domain)
In the remote south-western region of Cornwall, where the English Channel meets the Celtic Sea, there is a picturesque monastery of St. Michael. It stands on an island in Mount Bay, near the village of Marazion, located on the coast. Presumably, a group of Benedictine monks from Normandy built it in 495 AD. The monastery immediately established itself as an important place of worship for St. Michael. It is similar to the Norman monastery of Mont Saint-Michel.
3. Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy
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On the northern coast of France, at the mouth of the river Couesnon, there is an abbey on a small rocky island. The water that surrounds the monastery during the tides is extremely insidious. From the XIX century to the present day, more than 150 shipwrecks took place here. The construction of the monastery was dedicated not only to St. Michael, but to the whole Christian religion and Normandy as well.
4. Sacra di San Michele (Saint Michael’s Abbey), Val di Susa
In the Val di Susa there is a majestic monastery of the Archangel Michael – one of the most important Christian architectural structures in the Alps. The abbey, probably built on the site of an ancient small church, eventually became an integral part of the beliefs of that time. It promoted the spread of Christianity in the region of Piedmont and became a real symbol of the region.
5. The Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo, Apulia
In the municipality of Monte Sant’Angelo, in the province of Foggia, there is a basilica of Lombard origin, named after Archangel Michael. Over the centuries, it is a place of pilgrimage through a series of alleged revelations of St. Michael. It is the oldest shrine in Western Europe dedicated to the archangel Michael.
6. Panormitis Monastery in Simi Island, Greece
The monastery of St. Archangel Michael, located on the island of Simi, is the most important place of worship all over the Greece. According to historians, it was built around 450 AD on the site of an ancient temple dedicated to the god Apollo.
7. Stella Maris Monastery, Haifa
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On the ridge of Mount Carmel in Haifa, is the monastery of Stella Maris. It was founded in the Byzantine era and was located in a cave in which, it was believed, the prophet Elijah lived. After some time the monastery became a place of worship of St. Michael.
Photo: OpenStreetMap (CC-BY-SA 2.0)
These seven shrines, located at a certain distance, are very similar to each other. All of them are on the line formed by the sunset on the day of the summer solstice. This line in Christian symbolism coincides with the way in which Archangel Michael descended to expel Lucifer.
Preview: Elio Pallard [CC BY-SA 4.0],
OpenStreetMap (CC-BY-SA 2.0)