In Harrisonburg Walmart, in the jewelry department, you can find the St. Michael Pendant, putting religion in a very secular place. The pendant itself is relatively small, it is about the size of a nickel. It can be made up of sterling silver, or solid white or yellow gold, and has been around for a very long time. According to Christian Saint Medals website, there was a pendant found dated back to the second century and then more were found dated back to 300s A.D. Back then, these medals were usually coins that had been stamped with Christ, over time they have developed into the pendants that we see today. On the pendant, St. Michael is depicted holding a sword standing over top of a dragon, that he defeated in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 12:7-9). This image is meaningful because this is how many picture Michael because he is so known for being the archangel that defeated Satan and taking him down to hell. Surrounding the image are the words SAINT MICHAEL PROTECT US. St. Michael is the archangel of death, and the head angel of God’s army.
To the right is a picture of Michael standing over the defeated dragon for the Bible.
St. Michael became so popular due to the story about Pope Leo XIII. It is said that Pope Leo XIII had a vision about demonic spirits gathering in Rome and from that vision, he had a prayer that he wanted to share with his church. Pope Leo XIII is the one who wrote the prayer of St. Michael. He claimed to have heard a conversation between Jesus and Satan with Satan saying that he is going to destroy the church just that he needs more time and power and Jesus says that he will have the time and power and to do with them as he pleases (Kosloski, Philip).
One of the many reasons that believers wear the pendent of St. Michael is for protection. He is the angel people pray to for protection and safety. He is the patron saint of the armed forces, because he honors those who work for safety and peace. And in the military, soldiers would take the put the pendant or small statues in their bags to bring them victory while keeping them safe. People in the emergency field, like EMTs Police, and Doctors wear this necklace while others can wear the pendant as well. Wearing these pendants of the angels give people hope that the angel of the choice is watching over them.
The religious belief of St. Michael and his protective powers are when people say his prayer they are protected and can continue on their journey. One story of the prayer working is when a mother with a teenage son went out to the movies with his friends one night. The mom was worried about her son driving home late that night because it was the night of a big community party and she was scared that he was going to get hurt, she called her son and told him that she didn’t want them to drive and he said that they would be ok that they would take the back roads home. After they hung up, she prayed and pleaded to St. Michael to keep her son safe like he did with the son’s father. Then when she got home she found out that the son was in a terrible car accident and the car was totaled but he only had some minor injuries. The boy then got a tattoo of St. Michael to remind him of faith and have protection (Starr,9-10).
St. Michael is also known for protection against is evil spirits. People think that exorcisms are just in films but in reality, they are real and can happen to anyone who believes in spirits. There are examples of the act of preforming an exorcism in the Bible, in books Mark and Luke. When preforming an exorcism, a priest will pray to Michael and place his pendant on the forehead of the person being cleansed. When using the pendant and other objects, they help expel the demonic forces.
In the film The Rite, it begins with a quote by Pope John Paul II and the quote read “The battle against the Devil, which is the principal task of Saint Michael the Archangel, is still being fought today, because the Devil is still alive and active in this world”.
This shows how St. Michael is talked about in a secular way and how real it is, even in movies that are exaggerated to fit into films. Believing in exorcisms influences our religious materials that we have because what is known to help protect us from an exorcism happening to us.
Above is an image of Saint Michael in Stained Glass, this glass is at the Our Lady of the Isle Roman Catholic Church.
One popular way that people express their faith is through jewelry. Pendant wearing is the most popular among the Christian faith, although other denominations wear them as well, like Judaism and Islam. These necklaces and pendants make great presents for Baptism, Conformation, and other religious accomplishments. Many of the different saint pendants are available in jewelry stores, religious bookstores, and some are available at various Walmart stores. This ties into what Colleen McDannell said about Christian retailing in Chapter 8 her book. Religious jewelry allows those who wear it to express their faith in a way that is personal to them and giving them a sense of their self-worth because they have the reminder there with them at all times. Pendants also allow you to easily share your religion with the people around you. This pendant influences people religious lives because believing in St. Michael will allow you to believe that he will protect and help you in your daily life.
Completed by: Tyler Cersley and Faith Gooding
Cuneo, Michael W. American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty. Broadway Books, 2002.
McDannell, C. (1995). Material Chrustianity. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.
Starr, M. (2007). Saint Michael: Devotions, Prayers & Living Wisdom. Sounds True.
Kosloski, Philip. “The Demonic Vision That Inspired the St. Michael Prayer.” Aleteia – Catholic Spirituality, Lifestyle, World News, and Culture, Aleteia, 25 Sept. 2017
Images were found on Google and then led to Church’s Website.