Saint Michael is one of the chief angels, or possibly the chief angel. He is either the leader of all nine choirs of angels or just the one choir whose members are known simply as ‘Angels’.
He is mentioned by name only four times in the bible.
- Daniel 10:13 where he is referred to as ‘on of the chief princes’
- Daniel 12 where the Angel, speaking about the end of the world says ‘At that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the children of thy people.’
- Jude 1:9 where he is arguing with the devil about the body of Moses
- Revelations 12:7 where “there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon.”, the dragon being Satan
…but he is also traditionally believed to be the un-named angel mentioned in:
- Genesis 3:24 standing ‘at the gate of paradise’
- Numbers 22:22 standing in Balaam’s way
- IV Kings 19:35 routing the army of Sennacherib
Richard Taylor in his book ‘How to read a church’  says that “In keeping with his position in heaven churches dedicated to Saint Michael tend to be built in a high place”.
Alternatively, the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia  relates the positioning of St Michael’s churches to the pagan god Wotan, who was ‘replaced’ by St Michael.
Mr Taylor gives the examples of Mont St Michel, Tor Hill at Glastonbury, and London’s highest church at the top of Highgate Hill”. St Michael’s Church is Salisbury would follow this pattern. It is the highest church in the area, as far as I am aware.
- Taylor, Richard (2003). How to Read a Church: A Guide to Images, Symbols and Meanings in Churches and Cathedrals. Rider & Co. ISBN-10 1844130533 [↩]
- Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/St. Michael the Archangel – Wikisource [↩]