September 6 – Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Chonae; Magnus of Füssen

The Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Chonae (IV cent.) took place on this wise. A man in Laodicia had a daughter who could not speak. The commander of the heavenly hosts (that’s Michael for those just tuning in) appeared to him in a dream, and told him to have her drink from a certain spring. She did, and began to speak. Overjoyed and grateful, the whole family were baptized, and a church dedicated to Michael was built on the spot.

Sometime later a man named Archippus (“head horse”) (really) served as physical plant engineer at this particular church (for 60ish years). The local pagans took a strong dislike to him, as he was not just a great janitor, but also a fabulously successful evangelist. They decided to both destroy the church and kill the faithful sacristan by diverting a couple of rivers in such a way that they were headed straight for our hero and the Church! It looked to be a soggy end for both (and this was before the invention of modern snorkeling equipment), but Archippus prayed to the Archangel, and the latter appeared, struck the ground with his staff, and ordered the river to flow into the chasm he thus made. For this reason the place is called “Chonae,” meaning “fissure” or “plunging.” (I’m trusting my source here.) The pagans fled in terror, but Archippus and the Christians (for rock band naming rights please send SASE) gathered and offered thanks to the heavenly warrior.

Magnus of Füssen (d. VII or VIII cent.) is the subject of a lot of speculation, and many scholars reject his Vita as wholly unreliable. Nevertheless fools, angels, rushing, fearing, treading, etc. How lucky for you that just such a fool wrote this book. (By the way, “Magnus of Füssen” does not mean “Big of Feet,” even though it means, well, “big of feet.”)

Magnus was a student of St. Gall (who passes away before our story opens), and was invited by a certain priest named Tozzo to come to Allgäu (bottom of modern Bavaria) and reestablish Christianity after the Christian Franconians had taken back the area from the pagan Allemani. Magnus betook himself to the town of Kempten, which had been abandoned because of a tribe of fierce serpents, the fiercest of which (and thus their leader) was named Boas. (Some sources interpret “serpent” as “snake” and some as “dragon.” We’re going with “dragon” because that’s cooler.) Seeing the vile worm, Magnus crossed himself, grabbed a cross and Gall’s staff, and advanced toward its lair, ordering the beast to lie still. Believing the dragon to be possessed by a demon, he ordered it to come out, but before it had a chance, he smashed the dragon’s head in with his staff. Seeing their leader was dead, the other dragons fled the vicinity, and good Christians were able to move back into town and rebuild the church. And there was much rejoicing.

Next Magnus came to Füssen, which had an even bigger and badder dragon. Magus took pitch and tar in his one hand, and a piece of holy bread in his other hand, and Gall’s staff in his other other hand, and a cross in his fourth hand (the logistics here are sketchy), and went forth to face the beast. He ate the holy bread, and when the monster rushed at him with open mouth, he threw in the pitch and tar, which instantly caught fire and cooked the dragon from the inside out. Magnus built a monastery on the spot, but the current Benedictine monastery of Füssen, which he also founded, was sited somewhere else. At any rate, he worked miracles all over the area, re-converting the deconverted Christians back to the Christian faith that they had been converted out of by the pagans, after they had been converted from paganism to Christianity. (Got it?)

Somewhat anticlimactically, he is the patron saint “against caterpillars.”