The cult of St. Michael the Archangel not only embraces the three main monotheistic religions, but is also concerns the pagan God Mitra, who is worshiped in caves as well.
Monte Sant’Angelo in the area of Gargano is the first Western sanctuary dedicated to the Archangel, winner of the devil. A network of pilgrimage routes connects the main and intermediate destinations along the Via Michaelica: Mont-Saint -Michel, the Sacra di San Michele in Val di Susa, Skellig Michael in Ireland, St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, the Sanctuary on the Symi island in Greece and the Monastery of Mount Carmel in Israel.
On the way to the final destination in Puglia, the Lazio region preserves several testimonials, such as the first Western church dedicated to the Archangel in Rome and the one located on the seventh mile of the Via Salaria called in Septimo, discovered in 1996. The basilica was a pilgrimage destination up to the ninth century, when the feast of St. Michael began to be celebrated every year on September 29 in the church of Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome and in the Sanctuary on the mount Gargano in Puglia.
The church of Santa Maria del Parto in Sutri, along the Via Cassia / Francigena, was built inside a Mitreo, a temple dedicated to the god Mithras. It was transformed into a church in the late Medieval period, when it was dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, and later, in the eighteen century, to the Virgin. The vault of the church, dating back to the 8th/9th century, portrays the Archangel, protector of the Christian knights, with his face in relief and wearing the noble dress loron. The arch above the door from the early 1300 depicts the miracle of the bull and the shepherd on Mount Gargano.
Not far from Viterbo, on a tuff rock overlooking the impressive Suppentonia valley, the village of Castel Sant’Elia hosts one of the most picturesque churches in the region dedicated to St. Elia, built, according to tradition, on the Temple of Diana. Above the Basilica, on the edge of a tuff rock, stands the church of San Michele Arcangelo ad Rupes, from which a long tunnel with 144 steps carved in the rock leads to the Sanctuary of the Maria Santissima ad Rupes, where a picture of the Virgin from the sixteenth century can be admired.
The hermitage of San Michele Arcangelo in Formia is a sanctuary located at 1,220 m on the mount Altino, in the Aurunci Mountains, overlooking the Gulf of Gaeta. The small church, mentioned in the Codex diplomaticus Cajetanus, dates back to 830.
The Church of San Michele Arcangelo in Guercino, with frescoes from 1600, was built in 1587 on the ruins of a temple dedicated to Mars, an example of the sacred architecture in the Lazio region.
The Church of San Michele Arcangelo in Rivodutri (Rieti), known since 1252 and ruled by the Abbey of Farfa in the Medieval period, houses a fresco representing Saint Francis. It is located close to the Reserve of the Lakes Lungo and Ripasottile, where, according to the legend, the Saint found shelter from a storm under an uncommonly shaped beech tree.
Many others worship sites dedicated to the Saint can be found in the Lazio region, such as the churches in Sermoneta, Vico nel Lazio, Frosinone and Contigliano, in the Valle Santa Reatina.