Honor the Holy Angels
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What is the difference between an angel and an archangel?

Unlike human beings who share a common nature, St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that as pure spirits each angel has a unique nature. Their degree of likeness to God and His Divine Spirit distinguishes them, rather than the material differences which permit us to identify individual human beings. Nonethless, they can still be classed into groups, called choirs, according to their spiritual similarity to each other and the missions which God has given them.

Closest to God are the spirits of the highest choirs, the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones; closest to mankind, and most like us in spirit, are the lower choirs. Among these are the archangels and angels, who serve as greater and lesser messengers (Greek, aggelos) to human beings from God. We have the names of three of the seven arch-messengers, Michael, Raphael and Gabriel in the Sacred Scripture–St. Rapahel identies himself as one of seven who stand before the trhone of God (Tobit 12:15). The names of the other four archangels are not given to us to know, and the Church forbids us to call upon by name any but the three whose names Scripture has revealed.

St. Thomas Aquinas gave us the following hierarchical list of the nine angelic choirs and using the traditional names from the Hebrew and Greek through the Latin Vulgate of St. Jerome):

  • Seraphim (Is. 6:2, 6, seraphin)
  • Cherubim (Gen. 3:24, Heb. 9:5, cherubin)
  • Thrones (Col. 1:16, throni)
  • Dominions (Col. 1:16, Eph. 1:21, dominationem )
  • Virtues (Eph. 1:21, virtutem)
  • Powers (Rom. 8:38, Eph. 1:21, potestatem)
  • Principalities (Col. 1:16, Eph. 1:21, principatum)
  • Archangels (Rev. 12:7, Jude 9, archangelus)
  • Angels (over 300 references, angelus)
“The battle against the devil, which is the principal task of Saint Michael the Archangel, is still being fought today, because the devil is still alive and active in the world.” - Pope St. John Paul II

How is St. Michael the Archangel depicted?

St. Michael is usually shown holding a sword while defeating the devil.
Who is the chief angel in heaven?

St. Michael is the "Prince of the Heavenly Host."

What does Michael mean in Hebrew?

Speaking of St. Michael. Pope St. John Paul II said, “His name is a synthesis that expresses the essential attitude of the good spirits. ‘Mica-EL’ in fact means: ‘Who is like God?’ In this name, therefore, we find expressed the salvific choice thanks to which the angels ‘see the face of the Father’ who is in Heaven.”

Why is Michael the Archangel a saint?

“Saint” indicates that one is holy, whether a human or an angel. The term is used in many ways. St. Paul speaks in his letters of the just as “saints.” The Church speaks of canonized saints, those whose heroic virtue has been demonstrated and whose presence with God has been confirmed by their miraculous intercession. As St. Michael is one of the holy angels, he is a saint in both the general sense of “just,” and in the specific sense of being recognized by the Church as eternally with God. This is also true of St. Gabriel and St. Raphael.

Whom does Saint Michael protect?

Anyone can ask for St. Michael’s protection, but he particularly defends against evil. Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) had a vision of the evil that would come into the world in the coming century. In response, he wrote the St. Michael’s Prayer and instructed it to be prayed at the end of Mass. the Saint Michael Prayer at the end of Masses.
The prayer reads:

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,
cast into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

What does the Bible say about St. Michael?

St. Michael is mentioned several times in the Bible. He is first mentioned in the Book of Daniel where he is called “one of the chief princes” (Daniel 10:13). In the Book of Jude, he is specifically called an archangel.
The Book of Revelation says:

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And 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)

In each reference, St. Michael is acknowledged as a warrior saint who battles evil, as well as a chief angel (archangel) responsible for other angels (understood as a portion of the ninth choir angels).

What is St. Michael the patron saint of?

He is the patron saint of grocers, soldiers, doctors, mariners, first responders, and police. More importantly, he is the Guardian of the Church, as he was shown to be of Israel in the Old Testament (Daniel 10).

Finally, Mother Angelica chose him as the patron for EWTN Radio, as she chose to built the first transmitter, WEWN shortwave, on a spot where he had appeared to her.

“When you are before the altar where Christ reposes, you ought no longer to think that you are amongst men; but believe that there are troops of angels and archangels standing by you, and trembling with respect before the sovereign Master of Heaven and earth. Therefore, when you are in church, be there in silence, fear, and veneration.” - Saint John Chrysostom

How is St. Gabriel the Archangel depicted?

St. Gabriel is often shown with lilies, symbolizing purity.
What does the Bible say about St. Gabriel?

The Book of Daniel mentions two archangels: Michael and Gabriel. In this Old Testament book, St. Gabriel interprets Daniel’s visions.

However, St. Gabriel is best known for his role in the New Testament. Zechariah, a Jewish priest, and his wife Elizabeth had been unable to have children, and Elizabeth was well beyond childbearing years. St. Gabriel approached Zechariah while the priest was burning incense in the temple. The angel said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John” (Luke 1:13). However, Zechariah doubted his words. In response, the archangel said, “I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time” (Luke 1:19-20). This child who was born to Zechariah and Elizabeth was St. John the Baptist.

St. Gabriel also appeared to Mary at the Annunciation:

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her,

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:26-38).

Videos on Archangels

What does Gabriel mean in Hebrew?

St. John Paul II said, “[St. Gabriel’s] name means: ‘my power is God’ or ‘power of God,’ as if to say that the culmination of creation, the Incarnation is the supreme sign of the omnipotent Father.”

What is St. Gabriel the patron saint of?

St. Gabriel is the patron saint of telecommunication workers, radio broadcasters, postal workers, and messengers.

“Consider how august a privilege it is, when angels are present, and archangels throng around, when cherubim and seraphim encircle with their blaze the throne, that a mortal may approach with unrestrained confidence, and converse with heaven's dread Sovereign! O, what honor was ever conferred like this?” - Saint John Chrysostom

In icons, why does St. Raphael hold a fish?

The fish symbol is a sign of St. Raphael’s role in spiritual and material healing.
What does Raphael mean in Hebrew?

St. John Paul II said, “Finally, the third archangel is called Raphael. ‘Rafa-EL’ means: ‘God heals.’ He is made known to us by the story of Tobias in the Old Testament, which is so significant for what it says about entrusting to the angels the little children of God, who are always in need of custody, care, and protection.”

What is St. Raphael the patron saint of?

He is the patron saint of travelers, blind people, nurses, pharmacists, physicians, and people who are ill.

Where is St. Raphael mentioned in the Bible?

In the book of Tobit, one of the deuterocanonical books of the Bible, St. Raphael travels with a man named Tobias, with the archangel presenting himself as Tobias’ relative. St. Raphael eventually helps Tobias in two ways. First, he releases a young woman, Sarah, from spiritual bondage. She was married seven times, and a demon killed each husband on their wedding night. Tobias eventually marries Sarah, with St. Raphael’s help. Also, St. Raphael helps restore the sight of Tobias’ father, Tobit, who had become blind.

What is the story of St. Raphael and the fish?

In the book of Tobit we are told that as Tobias and St. Raphael were traveling together, Tobias went to wash in the Tigris River. A fish tried to attack him, but St. Raphael told him to catch the fish and remove the heart, liver, and gall. He then used them to deliver Sarah from the demon and Tobit from his blindness.

“Brother Azarias, of what use is the liver and heart and gall of the fish?” (Raphael) replied, “As for the heart and the liver, if a demon or evil spirit gives trouble to any one, you make a smoke from these before the man or woman, and that person will never be troubled again. And as for the gall, anoint with it a man who has white films in his eyes, and he will be cured” (Tobit 6:6-8).

It was, of course, by divine power that their spiritual and material healing was accomplished. However, the archangel in his human disguise used material means as signs, just as Christ used His spit and dirt, and the Church uses matter in the sacraments, as visible signs of spiritual realities.