Though San Miguel de Allende is the most well-known, almost every state in La Republica has a town named “San Miguel.” Here, you will see hundreds of dramatic images and statues of the sword-wielding Archangel conquering the devil. What is the deal with Saint Michael? And why is he revered here?
There are many interpretations of the story, and this one is chosen, frankly, cuz it’s the most dramatic version.
The story of Saint Michael is an apocryphal creation story. In other words it does not specifically appear in the Bible, but it remains as a sort of myth explaining the beginning of humankind. Saint John writes a vision of it in Revelations 12:7-10.
In the aeons before God created man, the story goes, He lived in Heaven surrounded by His angels. There are different types of angels, and the most important ones are the Archangels. They had names like Gabriel (the one who announced to Mary she was going to bear Jesus); Raphael, Uriel, etc. Notice the names all end in “el,” this is the ancient Hebrew word for God. So, for example, “Michael” means “who likens himself to God?” We’ll get to that in a bit.
Angels have all the immortality, spirit and love of God, but they lack one thing: free will. They are there to glorify God, sing praises, run messages, and tidy up around the place. Michael is a badass. He is kind of the sergeant at arms for Heaven. Why would a bunch of beings made of love and light need a bouncer? Hold on.
One day the Almighty announces that He is going to create a new being, made of earth and spirit – humans. Further, He added, He would endow these things with the ability to choose their own fate – that is, free will.
When God proclaimed His intention, the most handsome angel – Lucifer protested. Lucifer means ‘light bringer,’ it is also the name of Venus when it shines in the morning, bringing the light before the sun. Lucifer’s problem was that if God created humans who had options, they might choose against God. This would be intolerable!
Michael, clearly the muscle in the organization, said something to the effect of “Hey! God Almighty said He’s gonna do it, who are you to argue? So shut your yap.”
Lucifer did not, and it ignited the Great War in Heaven. Michael was the general of his side, Lucifer lined up his party; and they fought. In the Bible vision Lucifer becomes a dragon.
Michael won, of course, and he cast Lucifer out of Heaven, followed by the rebel angels. He stood over the fallen devil and proclaimed “Who likens himself to God?!” or in ancient Hebrew: “Michael!” God punished Lucifer basically saying “You care so much about people making evil choices? Then you be in charge of those souls,” and created the darkness of Hell where Lucifer, the former light-bringer, presides.
The image of Saint Michael with his foot on the neck of the dragon Lucifer, brandishing his sword arouses a religious fervor in the hearts of Mexicans. Remember, Mexico, a fiercely Catholic country, has gone through two bloody revolutions for its freedom, first slaying the dragon of Spain, and then a misbehaving despot. It seems the San Miguel story resonates with citizens in a profound way.