St Michael Archangel of the Apocalypse

Mstera School
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reference number: RI_111 

19th century

tempera on wooden panel

31.2 x 26.6 cm

Traditionally painted in warm earth tones the icon portrays the Archangel Michael on a winged pink galloping charger with a mountainous landscape in the background. The saint is represented as Archistrategos (“chief commander” Greek): winged and crowned he wears a suit of armour, in his left hand he holds a closed Book of Gospels – symbol of the fulfillment of the New Testament, while blowing on a trumpet and swinging a censer; his arms are spread wide apart, between them is a rainbow. Beneath him is the devil’s flaming abyss wherein are the fallen cities of the world. From the top left corner of the composition amid cloud scrolls appears Christ. The upper border bears the Old Slavonic calligraphic inscription reading: “Saint Archangel Michael”.


The Archangel is described in the Christian tradition as the Captain-General of the Host of Heaven. The Book of Revelation describes a war between the heavenly host led by the Archangel Michael and the satanic host: “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him?” (Revelations, 12: 7–9). For this reason, the Archangel Michael is considered to be the patron of the “militant church”, i.e. all those loyal to God who fight against evil.


In Russia, Archangel Michael is one of the most venerated saints, for he is a protector of warriors and a patron saint of the Russian Tsars. In 1808, in a forest near the city of Vladimir, a helmet was found belonging to the great Prince Yaroslav Vsevolodovitch, who reigned in the 13th century. On the helmet was the image of the Archangel Michael and the words Great Archangel Michael, save your slave.


The feast of St.Michael and the Other Heavenly Bodiless Powers is celebrated on November 8

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