Michael (archangel)

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St. Michael is an archangel mentioned twice in the Old Testament, and twice in the New.

He is one of three angels known by name from Sacred Scripture. The other two archangels known by name in the Bible are St. Raphael and St. Gabriel. St. Raphael is known by name only in the Book of Tobit in the Old Testament of the Bible in the Septuagint since the 1st century B.C. and in the Vulgate. Martin Luther removed the Book of Tobit from the Old Testament in the 16th century and placed it in the Apocrypha. The name of Raphael is not found in the canon of the Protestant Bible. The feast days of these three archangels in the Catholic Church were originally celebrated separately, but have been combined on September 29 as the Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels. In the Orthodox Church the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers is commemorated on November 8.

St. Michael's name in Hebrew: "who is like God?", Hebrew: מִיכָאֵל‎ (pronounced [mixåˈʔel]), Micha'el or Mîkhā'ēl; Greek: Μιχαήλ, Mikhaḗl; Latin: Michael (in the Vulgate Michahel); Arabic: ميخائيل‎, Mīkhā'īl.

Of the seven "archangels" which appear in the angelology of post-Exilic Judaism, only three, Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, are mentioned in the canonical Scriptures of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The others, according to the Book of Enoch (see chap. xxi) are Uriel, Raguel, Sariel, and Jerahmeel.

In the Bible Michael is one of the Seven Chief Princes. (Compare Revelation 8:2 "Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God".) Four times his name is recorded in Scripture:

  • Daniel 10:13. Gabriel says to Daniel: "The Angel [Douay-Rheims "prince"] of the kingdom of the Persians resisted me... and, behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me... and none is my helper in all these things, but Michael your prince."
  • Daniel 12. The Angel speaking of the end of the world and the Antichrist says: "At that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the children of thy people."
  • Jude 9: "When Michael the Archangel, disputing with the devil, contended about the body of Moses", etc. St. Jude alludes to an ancient Jewish tradition of a dispute between Michael and Satan over the body of Moses, which is also found in the apocryphal book on the assumption of Moses (Origen, De Principiis III.2.2). St. Michael concealed the tomb of Moses; Satan, however, by disclosing it, tried to seduce the Jewish people to the sin of hero-worship. St. Michael also guards the body of Eve, according to the "Revelation of Moses"[1]
  • Revelation 12:7, "And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon." St. John speaks of the great conflict, which reflects also the battle in heaven at the beginning of time. When the apostles rejoice that, when they went forth to preach, and to heal, the spirits are subject to them, Jesus said, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven" (Luke 10:18). According to the Fathers there is often question of St. Michael in Scripture where his name is not mentioned. They say he was the cherub who stood at the gate of paradise, "to keep the way of the tree of life" (Genesis 3:24), the angel through whom God published the Decalogue to his chosen people, the angel who stood in the way against Balaam (Numbers 22:22 ), the man with drawn sword that Joshua beheld near Jericho, whom he challenged, and then worshiped as "commander of the LORD's army" (Joshua 5:13-15), the angel who routed the army of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:35).


The Seven Spirits are mentioned without name in the Book of Revelation 1:4
"Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne."
John tells us he saw seven angels with seven trumpets who sounded, seven angels with seven plagues who poured them, and testifies that one of the seven showed him the Bride, the Wife of the Lamb, the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.

TRADITIONAL PRAYER TO SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

See Apocrypha

References

  1. "Apocryphal Gospels", etc., ed. A. Walker, Edinburgh, p. 647.

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