Deeper into Jeopardy! XXVI: National Patron Saints – $1600

Jeopardy! category: NATIONAL PATRON SAINTS (25-09-2014)

$1600 clue: This archangel is also a saint & the patron of Papua New Guinea

Correct response

The gist: Even if I can’t find any information as to why he’s Papua New Guinea’s patron, he’s still a pretty bad-ass figure in Christian theology, so I’m happy to write about him anyway. The archangel St. Michael has the honour of being the earliest of the three sanctified angels (the others being St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, although being angels they never needed or received official canonization) to have been venerated as a saint, with Eastern churches dedicated to St. Michael as early as the fourth century CE. He’s often portrayed as a soldier or commander, perhaps deriving ultimately from a passage in Daniel that refers to him as “the great prince who protects your people.” Later on, he’s credited in Revelation as leading the war against “the dragon” (i.e. Satan) when he rebelled against God. As a result, St. Michael is usually portrayed armed and armoured, and has often been shown with a slain dragon, much like St. George, another famous dragonslayer. He’s considered the patron saint of military orders and police forces, but also of the sick – he was apparently regarded as a healing saint before he was regarded as a soldier. He has his own “Prayer to Saint Michael,” written by Pope Leo XIII in 1886, which calls him to “defend” and “safeguard” the devotee from Satanic forces. He’s also featured in one of the weirdest statues in New York City, the 1985 “Peace Fountain” by Greg Wyatt, located in the Upper West Side, which has St. Michael fighting a decapitated Satan on top of a giant crab, with nine giraffes prancing about.

Greg Wyatt’s “Peace Fountain,” New York City

The clue: Once again, most people are unlikely to know who the patron saint of Papua New Guinea is off the top of their head. That makes this clue a toss-up between the sainted angels, or, if you don’t know who those are, just the most famous ones. Unfortunately for contestant Dolly, she ventured Gabriel (just as I did), before Catherine offered the correct response. Goes to show that it’s usually not a good idea to guess, unless you have very good reasons to think it’s right – 1/3 are not very good odds in a context like Jeopardy!.

In Jeopardy!: The Archangel Michael, in his role as a saint, shows up in just seven clues in the J!Archive: this one; one about his feast day Michaelmas (and another which mentions that the feast day is shared with Gabriel and Raphael); a fairly clever Wham! reference about the saints George and Michael together; one about Joan of Arc who claimed Michael spoke to her; one about the tagline of the 1996 bomb Michael in which John Travolta played the title angel; and one about his patronage of paratroopers. He’s in more clues as an angel than a saint, but I won’t go into them here, except to say that he shows up about as often as the angel Gabriel, and both appear about three times more than Raphael, so the latter is probably the worst guess of the three if you need to guess an angel.

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