‘St. Michael: Meet the Angel’ — In Theaters on Feast of Archangels This Thursday

The new documentary offers a historical overview of devotion to St. Michael the Archangel and striking views of his shrines.

Detail of ‘St. Michael: Meet the Angel’ poster
Detail of ‘St. Michael: Meet the Angel’ poster (photo: Fathom Events)

For one night only — on the feast of the Archangels, appropriately — the feature-length documentary St. Michael: Meet the Angel will screen nationwide via Fathom Events.

A comprehensive look at how St. Michael has been venerated across the centuries, particularly in the shrines across Europe that comprise the “Sword of St. Michael,” the film draws on interviews with Catholic priests and religious, many of whom have a strong devotion to St. Michael in their own spiritual lives.

St. Michael: Meet the Angel is the first in a new series Fathom Events is rolling out called “The Saints Series.” The series, according to the Fathom Events website, “is a chance for everyone to be inspired by ordinary people who have done extraordinary things by following God’s call.” Following the release of St. Michael will be the Knights of Columbus-produced Mother Teresa: No Greater Love, screening over two days, Oct. 3 and 4. That such films are finding an outlet from a mainstream venue like Fathom Events is to be celebrated and an encouraging sign for others to follow.

St. Michael: Meet the Angel is quite Catholic in its approach to better understanding the venerated archangel. The film is edited, produced and directed by Wincenty Podobinski; St. Michael marks his feature debut. Nearly all of those who appear on camera are Polish, so it is important to note that the film is almost all wall-to-wall English narration. At 90 minutes, the film has a bit of a disjointed, rushed feeling.

It is also so packed with details on St. Michael’s impact throughout Christian history that it is occasionally hard to keep track. It is, therefore, helpful for viewers to have a fairly well-rounded sense of Michael’s elevated status in Christian tradition. For instance, an extended sequence in the film revolves around the 19th-century mystic Blessed Philomena de Santa Colomba. But few know of Philomena. Similar to the later visions shown to the peasant children of Fátima, Philomena glimpsed images of a world in chaos, wherein plagues and violence were crippling most of the world population. Like St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Philomena was also quite young and sickly. St. Michael appeared to Philomena in a vision a year before her death. Her mission was to make known the greatness of St. Michael.

Speaking of Fátima, it is not out of the realm of possibility that St. Michael is the Angel of Portugal, a deeply important figure in the history of Portugal and instrumental in that country’s conversion to the faith. This notion is covered in the documentary and is something I have reflected on further in this blog, “Is the Angel of Portugal Actually St. Michael the Archangel?

It is also useful to grasp St. Michael’s intercession at various times of plagues in different eras in different parts of the world. Most famous, of course, is Pope St. Gregory the Great’s procession through a devastated Rome in 590, when he sees a powerful image of St. Michael cleaning his sword above Hadrian’s mausoleum. It is believed the plague ended at that moment. Today, a statue of Michael the Archangel can still be seen where St. Gregory glimpsed it, towering over the imposing fortress of Castel Sant’Angelo, the Castle of the Holy Angel.

But at the heart of St. Michael: Meet the Angel are the breathtaking shrines devoted to St. Michael. Utilizing fantastic drone footage, which proves how much of Christian sacred architecture throughout the centuries is tailor-made for the big screen, we learn about such places as Sacra di San Michele in Turin or the Santuario di San Michele Arcangelo in Puglia. Both places are dots in a straight line that compose a longer line only seen from a map: a perfect line of monasteries devoted to St. Michael, from the windswept waters of Ireland to the land of Israel. The film is also sure not to neglect France’s contribution to the Sword of St. Michael, the breathtaking Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy.

St. Michael: Meet the Angel is a passable introduction to bringing the archangel’s epic story to the big screen. That its wholly Catholic perspective is something to champion, its impact is lessened by a rushed narrative and budgetary limitations. But if it leaves one with a deeper appreciation of St. Michael, then it has accomplished its goal. 



St. Michael: Meet the Angel is only in theaters Sept. 29. For tickets, go to: FathomEvents.com/events/Saint-Michael-Meet-the-Angel/theaters.