Encounter the tradition, the beauty, and the joy.

Michaelmas, 2023

Encounter the tradition, the beauty, and the joy.

Michaelmas 2023

Abbot Eugene and the
Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael's Abbey invite you to Michaelmas, a celebration in honor of our patron and in gratitude to the heroic generosity of our benefactors.
SEP. 28
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Designed by architect Jean Louis Pagès, the abbey church tells a triumphant story with color and light. Each year, on Michaelmas, the rays of the sun from the rose window set on the high altar during vespers. This powerful moment literally illuminates the profound mystery we encounter in each Mass—the victory of light over darkness, the descent of the Holy Spirit, and the union of heaven and earth.
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Kindly Note
This year, we are beginning the festivities on September 28, with the First Vespers of the Feast of St. Michael. Following first vespers on Thursday there will be a ticketed reception, with proceeds benefiting our seminarians.

Vespers on both Thursday and on Friday (Michaelmas proper) are open to the public. However, visitors should be advised that due to space constraints, we will not be able to admit those without tickets to the reception. To this end, those not attending the reception may prefer to attend vespers on Friday, September 29 which will be livestreamed.
Date & Location
Thursday, September 28
St. Michael’s Abbey
27977 Silverado Canyon Road, Silverado
Check in begins
Rosary in Abbey Church
Vespers begins in Abbey Church
Reception immediately following Vespers
Advance paid tickets to reception required.
Our future depends on the work of holy priests. All proceeds from this event support our Seminarian Fund, educating and forming the young men who lay down their lives to answer His call.

In gratitude for your generosity, our seminarians are continuing the tradition of unveiling their latest ales, specially brewed for this important feast!


Those unable to join us for our Michaelmas Celebration on September 28 (Michaelmas Eve) will find the next day's vespers livestreamed here.

Note that vespers will be streamed on Michaelmas Day, September 29 — the day after the celebration.

Join us as we celebrate the Feast of St. Michael, Archangel and patron of our community. May this exceptional ally continue to watch over our abbey as we advance together, ever faithful, under the banner of Christ.

We can't wait to see you! Fill out the form to purchase your tickets.

For questions or more information, please contact events@stmichaelsabbey.com
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Michaelmas is the celebration of the feast of St. Michael. Roman Catholics have been celebrating the valiant archangel since at least the fifth century. The Leonine Sacramentary (the oldest surviving liturgical text in the Church) mentions that a basilica built along the famous Via Salaria near Rome was consecrated to the Archangels on September 30. The Gelasian Sacramentary and Gregorian Sacramentary, written in the following 200 years, clarify that this was a celebration of St. Michael, and that the accurate anniversary of the basilica’s consecration was September 29. (Sometimes record keeping isn’t an exact science!)

In any case, September 29 seems to have been when people actually observed the holiday. And while that basilica is now lost to time—it survives only as a somewhat unimpressive archaeological site in the Castel Giubileo suburb of Rome—the legacy of this important feast remains!

Image: Detail of the St. Michael Mural Icon from the abbey church
Photo credit: Fr. Joseph Horn, O.Praem.


By the Middle Ages, Michaelmas had grown into a significant feast. In addition to being declared a holy day of obligation—a designation the solemnity enjoyed until the 18th century—Michaelmas also gained a cultural and political character. In the British Isles, Michaelmas marked the end of major harvests and signified the coming of fall. This timing made the day a convenient time to conduct business: loans and rent expired on Michaelmas, contracts ended and needed renewal, and wages were paid. Soon, Michaelmas became an occasion for elections for both political and academic positions, too.

Catholics would prepare for the solemnity with a short “St. Michael’s Lent,” so when Michaelmas finally arrived many Medievals took the holy day as a chance to party! Towns hosted processions, unveiled the first beer of the fall, and cooked special feasts. In Italy, it became popular to consume ales and desserts featuring ginger, probably because of the root’s association with good health. In England, eating goose was customary. People across Europe used the holiday to pick Asters (sometimes referred to as Michaelmas Daisies) to decorate their churches and homes.

One legend from the British Isles holds that when St. Michael defeated Satan, he cast Satan into a particularly prickly blackberry bush—a tale which developed into the practice of making blackberry jam and pies leading up to Michaelmas and avoiding the berries once the feast had passed. In Ireland, the faithful took the occasion as a chance to remember the dead.

Though the feast is no longer a holy day of obligation, it is still celebrated as a major solemnity by Catholics all around the world—including the Norbertines at St. Michael’s Abbey!


One of the three Archangels venerated by name in the Catholic Church, St. Michael is an important figure and an exceptional ally in the fight against the Devil. Michael is mentioned five times in the Bible, taking the role of a protector of Israel, a guardian of the dead, and, in Revelation, as the angel who defeated Satan and cast him from heaven.

This storied bit of celestial combat has earned St. Michael the role of patrons to others who deal in deadly scenarios, including paramedics, mariners, fisherman, paratroopers, police officers, and military personnel. He is also the patron of grocers, owing perhaps to his feast day’s connection with harvest time.

In addition to the famous “Prayer to St. Michael” authored by Pope Leo XIII (and a favorite of Pope John Paul II), there are a number of prayers and hymns seeking the archangel’s aid, including a Chaplet of Saint Michael, written by a Portuguese Carmelite nun called Antónia d'Astónaco following a private revelation from the Archangel himself.
Image: Detail from the Triumphal Arch in the abbey church
Photo credit: Fr. Joseph Horn, O.Praem.


Catholicism is a remarkably physical religion. We recognize a God Who became fully man. We encounter God’s grace in tangible ways in each of the seven sacraments. We acknowledge that physical reminders—icons, rosary beads, sacred music—are powerful tools to help draw our minds and hearts to spiritual realities.

The very architecture of our abbey church is built with physical reminders that draw us into the mysteries of our faith. A great example is the rose window, which is positioned in the church such that every Michaelmas, September 29, the light from the sun will pass through the rose window and rest directly on the high altar. (Plenty of churches in Europe feature this kind of “solar geometry,” but with the exception of many of the California Missions this ancient approach to construction is quite rare in the US.) This is a small but significant reminder of the intense power and grace found at each and every Mass when God, fully present in the Eucharist, descends onto the altar. It is an illustration of the unity of heaven and earth that occurred during the Incarnation and has occurred at every Mass since!
Image: The rose window of the abbey church
Photo credit: Fr. Joseph Horn, O.Praem.


Since its founding, our community has put itself under the protection of St. Michael.

On June 11, 1950, seven Norbertine Fathers from the Abbey of St. Michael in Csorna, Hungary, staged a daring escape from Communist authorities under the cover of nightfall. They did so with no time left to spare – the order came down for their arrest the very day after their escape! Under the protection of St. Michael, these men made it safely to the United States two years later.

For years, these seven priests worked and saved to found a community of their own, first with the Norbertines in De Pere, Wisconsin and later as chaplains and teachers in California. They were, at long last, able to found a new community in 1957, which they dedicated to St. Michael, who had remained a steadfast intercessor and protector.

Today, we continue to place our trust in this great archangel, who continues to intercede for us. We are honored to name him as our patron, and the celebration of his feast is always one of the most joyful moments of the year in our community.