Archangel Michael, detail of the fresco of the apse, Sant'Angelo in Formis, eleventh century

Archangel Michael, eleventh century, detail of the apse fresco of Sant’Angelo in Formis (near Capua)

The Archangel Michael, to whom the basilica of Sant’Angelo in Formis, is dedicated, appears in the center of the apse, beneath the image of Christ in Majesty. The staff and orb he bears are typical attributes of archangels. The fresco was likely carried out by local painters trained by the Byzantine masters that the abbot Desiderius invited to decorate the abbey of Montecassino. While the fresco retains Byzantine pictorial conventions, like the red apples of the cheeks, it is imbued with an immediacy that gives it an Italianate character. (For more on the frescoes of Sant’Angelo in Formis, see my post Devotion.)