I’m found St. Michael’s Cathedral near the Stephanplatz in Vienna’s main district. As the patron saint of law enforcement, I try to visit St Michael’s churches and cathedrals whenever I travel, and I’d certainly be remiss not to visit on this trip, which is specifically about the union of my cop work and my writing. Even though I grew up Protestant, St Michael is a romantic and ideological figure for me as a cop. Can you imagine being in that dude’s shoes the day God tasked him with throwing Lucifer outta Heaven? Of all the angels, God chose him, and how does an angel tell God ‘no?’ he certainly had free will, so he had that option even if it came with consequence (see: ‘Judas’). Despite whatever misgivings he had about his ability to succeed, he Cowboy’ed Up, took the fight to his colleague, who would soon become the Devil, and cast Lucifer right-the-fuck into Hell. I believe it must have been God’s divine intent to use Lucifer’s fallacies to create his own antithesis, but, in doing so, he gave Michael the job of creating Satan. Even if it were God’s plan, Michael still had the dirty and dangerous job of seeing it through, at certain and tremendous risk to himself. Thus, out of respect for Michael and all the enforcers who’ve gone before me, I try to stop in and pay homage whenever I can.
The outside of St. Michael’s in Vienna is pretty non-descript, save the snow white and gold sculpture atop its entrance depicting the moment Michael succeeded in driving Lucifer from Heaven. I didn’t visually expect much on its interior. Given the grandeur of the surrounding structures, I expected the inside to be as relatively humble and utilitarian as its exterior. As soon as I passed through the double doors, the interior took my breath away. Unbelievable, and probably one of the most ornate places I’ve ever seen. Not like Notre Dame, Sistine Chapel, or St Peter’s Basilica, where the walls seem to have been literally painted with gold, sapphire blue, and ruby red. No, there at St Michael’s in Vienna, there are sculptures everywhere. All three back walls surrounding the altar are a floor-to-ceiling tribute to Lucifer’s ousting, witnessed and attended by dozens of angels and God’s divine light. The most surprising aspect, though, is an unusual sculpture on the stage right side of the altar, entitled “Stairway To Heaven.” It’s a staircase made of books ascending to the divine. I am definitely in the right place.
After I finished my intended work, I stopped into a small prayer room dedicated to Mary The Virgin, lit two candles for me and K, my best friend, and prayed for safe travel and safety while pursuing those who victimize God’s children.