Bible Review 15:6, December 1999


St. Michael & the Devil

Bible Review

“And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

(Revelation 12:7–9)

With a sword in each hand, the archangel Michael defeats the devil, pinning the dragon-like creature to the ground, in this 1950s wood carving.

Although the grimacing anti-angel does not have the seven heads and ten horns of the beast described in Revelation (12:3), the lower half of his body recalls the twisting, powerful tail of the serpent. (Revelation is the only book of scripture that directly calls the devil a serpent.) His horns further identify him as the devil, but his wings—just like those barely visible behind St. Michael—remind us of the Christian belief that the devil is an angel fallen from heaven.

The figures are carved out of aspen and mountain mahogany by the American artist George López, who never applies paint to his work, preferring to allow the natural wood to convey the power of the scene. As a santero, or carver of saints, López follows in a long line of New Mexican woodcarvers, including his father and grandfather, who are known for their austere religious images.

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