September 6 Saints of the Day – Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Chonae, and Magnus of Füssen

On this day in 1847, Henry David Thoreau left Walden Pond and moved in with Ralph Waldo Emerson and his family in Concord, Massachusetts. His chamber pot was finally full.

Michael the Archangel at ChonaeThe 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 some 60 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 strike a blow that would both destroy the church and kill the faithful sacristan: they diverted a couple of rivers in such a way that they were headed straight for our hero and the Church of St. Michael. It looked to be a soggy end for both (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 FüssenMagnus of Füssen (d. VII or VIII cent.) is the subject of a lot of Bollandist-style speculation, leading to many scholars rejecting his Vita as wholly unreliable. Nevertheless fools, angels, rushing in, fearing to tread, and so forth. How lucky for you the reader that just such a fool writes this blog. (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” but 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 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?)

He is the patron saint “against caterpillars.”

Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

September 6 (Wikipedia)
Commemoration of the Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Colossae, also known as Chonae (4th c.) (St. John D.C.) – Main source
Commemoration of the Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Colossae (OCA)
Colossae (Wikipedia)
Image of Michael at Chonae from Wikipedia (public domain)
St. Magnus (Das Drachen-Bestiar)
Magnus of Füssen (Wikipedia)
Saint Magnus of Fussen (SQPN)
Image of Magnus from the Drachen-Bestiar. Copyright same (I assume).