The Archangel Michael, together with the Archangels Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael, touched on the lives of countless Christians, among whom were included apostles and disciples of Christ, in miracles manifesting the power of God. One of these miracles, wherein St. Michael was invoked by a man whose only claim to fame was the fact that he was a Christian, occurred at a place called Colossae (Chonais) in Asia Minor and is celebrated on September 6. The divine manifestation was only one example of the miracles ascribed to St. Michael, but has been selected by Church Fathers for commemoration because it exemplified the power of the archangels.
Among the first of the new faith of Jesus Christ to pay tribute to the great Michael were the disciples St. John the Evangelist and the dedicated St. Philip, both of whom are credited with having introduced Christianity to many parts of Asia Minor. Following a successful mission in the areas of Phrygia, the two disciples preached in Ephesus and went on to Hierapolis, a city in which a huge venomous snake was worshiped by a spiritually deprived populace who paid no heed to either John or Philip until the snake died after the two missionaries invoked the power of the Lord to demonstrate the futility of snake worship.
As a result of this gallant action, Philip was crucified, and when the mob turned to John for more vengeance, a sudden earthquake rocked the city and the thoroughly frightened snake worshipers recoiled and decided to listen to John tell of Jesus Christ, after which they were converted in great numbers to Christianity. St. John remained in the area of Hierapolis and Colossae for several months, leaving with the prophecy that the community would soon be blessed with a miraculous well to which the ailing could go for cure. When the prophecy came true, the people unanimously dedicated the well to St. Michael the Archangel. St. John had so often told them he had the power of the Lord to work miracles.
Among the many who sought the healing power of the well was a young ruler from Laodicea whose daughter had been born deaf and dumb and with whom he knelt in prayer at the well. When his faith had been rewarded by a complete cure of his child, the grateful ruler caused to be erected at the site a beautiful church which was appropriately called the Church of St. Michael. This church at Colossae soon ranked with the great cathedrals of the empire and was a spiritual haven over the years for thousands who came to be near the divine well.
One of the many who came and decided to stay was a boy of ten named Archippos who was allowed to serve in the Church of St. Michael as an acolyte and later was made custodian, a post he held for some eighty years. A devout Christian who observed all the religious rules of fasting and self-denial, Archippos deplored the contempt of the stubborn pagans who refused to recognize the Savior. One day he looked on with horror at an action bent on destroying the well so envied by the enemies of Christianity.
The nearby Chryssos River, held sacred by the pagans, was diverted in its flow so that it would spill over into the miraculous well and thereby destroy it. it was then that Archippos went into the Church of St. Michael and prayed to the Archangel for his intervention to save the blessed well. Not knowing quite what to expect, he emerged from the church to behold St. Michael descending from the heavens with a flaming sword in hand, which he plunged into the river. With a great hiss the water boiled and split into two separate currents in the manner that Moses had parted the Red Sea centuries before.
The river then became two streams, each of which passed around the holy well of St. Michael, acting as protective moats instead of the one torrent that the pagans had hoped would set the well awash. The split course of the river remains unchanged to this day for all to witness, although the commemorative shrine has since been destroyed by the invading Turks.
This event, commemorated on September 6 as the “Miracle of the Archangel Michael,” is the best-remembered miracle of the many performed by the Archangels of the Lord and takes its place among days which are given over to men and women who spent entire lifetimes, and more often than not, gave their lives for the Messiah. The Colossae miracle belongs on our religious calendar to remind us of the omnipotence of God.