Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Art as Servant: St. Michael the Archangel

Check out the following drawing of St. Michael the Archangel by David Myers, along with his explanation of the drawing:

"I have wanted to do this drawing for a long time. It is my answer to every bad representation of Saint Michael that I have ever seen. I mean, is it just me, or shouldn't someone known as "the general of the armies of the Lord" look like someone who can stomp a hole in the devil's hind quarters? Most of the traditional images of St. Michael leave me with a bad taste in my mouth, like I've eaten something with too much sugar in it. I don't want to see some androgynous fairy dancing a ballet on the head of a more manly looking satan, but a butt-kickin' Prince of Angels glorious in his victory over evil!

I don't claim that my version is the definitive image of the incorporeal, beautiful Archangel Michael, but I think that it does convey a little more of the strength given him by his Creator. Incidentally, in a funny spiritual exposition, I modeled for both Michael and his nemesis."

As should be blatantly obvious by now, I love St. Michael, and the image of him stomping a mud-hole in Satan has always been very encouraging to me. After all, why despair when St. Michael and his legion of angels are fighting an invisible war beneath the surface of our everyday struggles? An angel and a demon could be fighting in the very room that you are sitting in! It's just something interesting to think about.

I've also seen many images of St. Michael. I like to see the many ways in which he is represented. Sometimes the spear is in his left hand, sometimes in his right. Sometimes he holds a sword instead of a spear, sometimes a scale, sometimes a chain, sometimes a shield. He always appears angelic.

Personally, St. Michael's angelic appearance doesn't bother me as much as it bothers Dave. I have always enjoyed the tension that is maintained in images of Michael, a tension between the beauty of his face and the strength and physicality of his action. He is wielding immense power over Satan, and in a way that could even be described as violent, yet not at the expense of the utter happiness and joy he always experiences as a soldier beholding the face of God. There is no gritting of the teeth, no anger, no frustration, no clinched fist. He doesn't even seem to be exerting very much energy, which I think is a testiment to his power.

In the end, Satan is no match for God and his angels, and nothing he does will cause them to be unsettled, nervous, or angry. This is the promise for us as well. If we persevere, we too can have the power and contentment of the angels, and at the end of time, the devil and his minions will be utterly and definitively defeated, cast aside, never to harm God's creation ever again.

St. Michael the Archangel...pray for us.

Pax Christi,


  1. Nick-
    Thanks for posting another effort of mine on your blog. Your words show a great grasp of iconography and art history. My favorite images of St. Michael are the ones that are so balanced between beauty and strength that you know that he is both an angel and a soldier. I don't mean to denote unease or even anger in the gaze of Michael upward; rather a soldier's attentiveness to his Commander. I figure there are enough imbalanced images portaying a little too much beauty and not enough awe-inspiring strength. You're the man!
    Dave Myers

  2. That's such a great picture! St. Michael pretty much rocks. I'm so glad he has my back. God bless+


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