‘Am I more like God than you because I am stronger?’
… It was, it seems, the Romans, that most militaristic of empire building peoples
who first insisted that St Michael should be seen, that is, depicted,
in a military light, the Commander-in-Chief of an ‘Army of Angels’, as it were.
After Constantine’s defeat of Licineus at the Battle of Adrianople AD 324
which the Emperor attributed to the Archangel Michael he had a painting
of the Saint slaying a Dragon commisioned for the Michaelion,
a Christian Sanctuary nearby, which was previously dedicated to healing waters.
This lead to the now standard iconography of Archangel Michael
as a ‘Warrior Saint’, who slays a single-headed Dragon.
All empires rely for their dominance, to a certain extent,
on military prowess but the militaristic mind-set of the Romans
infiltrated every aspect of their culture,
and their newly acquired religion, alas, was to be no different…
In following this route the Holy Roman Empire
made the same mistake that extreme Islamists of today make
when they perpetrate terrorist acts in the name of ‘Jihad’,
that is, they confused the edicts of an inner conflict with its outward projection.
Or was it just a straightforward case of demonising ‘the opposition’,
and are these the same thing anyway?