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Guido Reni's archangel Michael (in the Capuchin church of Santa Maria della Concezione, Rome, 1636) tramples Satan. A mosaic of the same painting decorates St. Michael's Altar within St. Peter's Basilica.

Michael (Hebrew: מִיכָאֵל‎, Micha'el or Mîkhā'ēl; Greek: Μιχαήλ, Mikhaḗl; Latin: Michael or Míchaël; Arabic: ميخائيل‎, Mikhaḗl) is an archangel in Hebrew, Christian and Islamic tradition. He is viewed as the field commander of the Army of God. He is mentioned by name in the Book of Daniel,[1] the Book of Jude[2] and the Book of Revelation.[3] In the book of Daniel, Michael appears as "one of the chief princes"[1] who in Daniel's vision comes to the Archangel Gabriel's aid in his contest with the angel of Persia (Dobiel). Michael is also described there as the advocate of Israel and "great prince who stands up for the children of your [Daniel's] people".[4]

The Talmudic tradition rendered Michael's name as meaning "Who is like El?" ("Who is like God?"). As a question, it is understood as being rhetorical, implying the answer, "No one is like God."[5]

Much of the late Midrashic detail about Michael was transmitted to Christianity through the Book of Enoch, whence it was taken up and further elaborated. In late medieval Christianity, Michael, together with Saint George, became the patron saint of chivalry, and of the first chivalric order of France, the Order of Saint Michael of 1469. In the British honours system, a chivalric order founded in 1818 is also named for these two saints, the Order of St Michael and St George. St Michael is also considered in many Christian circles as the patron saint of the warrior. Police officers and soldiers, particularly paratroopers and fighter pilots, regard him as their patron. He is also a patron of Germany[6], the City of Brussels[7] and Kiev.

Roman Catholics refer to him as Saint Michael the Archangel and also simply as Saint Michael. Orthodox Christians refer to him as the Taxiarch Archangel Michael or simply Archangel Michael. The New Thought Movement refers to Michael as Christ Michael.[8]


Hebrew Bible

The main icon of the Archangel Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin (ca. 1410s).

Book of Daniel

The prophet Daniel experiences a vision after having undergone a period of fasting. In the vision, an angel identifies Michael as the protector of Israel (10:13, 21). Later in the vision (12:1), Daniel is informed that Michael will stand for Israel during the time of the End . There is no further mention of Michael in the Hebrew Bible.

Book of Joshua

Some believe the numinous "captain of the host of the Lord" encountered by Joshua in the early days of his campaigns in the Promised Land (Joshua 5:13-15) is Michael the Archangel. This unnamed heavenly messenger is of supernatural and holy origin, likely sent by God:

Once when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you one of us, or one of our adversaries?’ He replied, ‘Neither; but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped, and he said to him, ‘What do you command your servant, my lord?’ The commander of the army of the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy.’ And Joshua did so.

There is some controversy about this passage, however. In other places in the Bible, angels do not accept the worship of humans (see Rev. 22:9 for an example); the willingness of this person to accept Joshua's worship implies that he was divine (e.g., a theophany of God). However, it is not clear whether the angel was the subject of Joshua's worship or merely instigated worship of God.

Hebrew apocrypha

War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness

Archangel Michael defeating Satan on the Coat of Arms of Arkhangelsk, Russia - a city named for this angel

In the War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness, Michael is described as the prince of light, leading forces of God against the darkness of evil, who is led by Belial. He is described as the "viceroy of heaven", a title that is said to have formerly belonged to the Morning Star.[citation needed]

Book of Enoch

Michael is designated in the Book of Enoch, as "the prince of Israel" and the "archistratege" of God. He is the angel of forbearance and mercy (Enoch, xl:3) who taught Enoch the mysteries of clemency and justice (lxxi:2). Some speculate that the angel in the book of Jubilees (i:27 and ii:1), who is said to have instructed Moses on Mount Sinai and to have delivered to him the tables of the Law, may be Michael.

Enoch 9:1 states that Michael, along with Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel and Suriel heard the cries of men under the strain of the Watchers and their giant offspring. It was Michael and his compatriots that beseeched God on behalf of men, prompting Yahweh to call Enoch to prophethood.

In Enoch 10:15 Yahweh says to Michael; "Go and announce his crime to Samyaza, and to the others who are with him, who have been associated with women, that they might be polluted with all their impurity. And when all their sons shall be slain, when they shall see the perdition of their beloved, bind them for seventy generations underneath the earth, even to the day of Judgement, and of consummation, until the judgement, the effect of which will last forever and be completed."

Enoch 20:5 says that Michael presides over human virtue in order to command nations.

Enoch 24:4-10 has Enoch before the Tree of Life/Mercy, and Michael explains to him that he should not touch it, for it is for those who are 'elect' after the day of Judgement.

Enoch 40:8 says that Michael is patient and merciful.

Enoch 53:6 states that Michael, along with Gabriel, Raphael and Phanuel shall be strengthened during the Battle of Armageddon.

Enoch 58 shows Enoch overcome with terror over a vision he has, and Michael is quick to interpret. The terror is only for those who turn on Yahweh, that the Day of Judgement is for the elect, a day of covenant, while for sinners it is a day of inquisition.

Enoch 66:14-15 has Michael explaining to Enoch that the evil spirits [demons] shall bear witness against those of the flesh who supported them. Yet Enoch is told that Michael holds a secret oath so that the elect shall not perish by their knowledge like the sinners, Enoch 68:20-22.

Enoch 70:11-16 shows that Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Phanuel always 'escort' Yahweh [God the Father], whenever he leaves his throne.

Rabbinic traditions

Statue of Archangel Michael slaying Satan represented as a dragon. Quis ut Deus? is inscribed on his shield.

According to rabbinic Jewish tradition, Michael acted as the advocate of Israel, and sometimes had to fight with the princes of the other nations (cf. Daniel 10:13) and particularly with the angel Samael, Israel's accuser. Michael's enmity with Samael dates from the time when the latter was thrown down from heaven. Samael took hold of the wings of Michael, whom he wished to bring down with him in his fall; but Michael was saved by God (Midrash Pirke R. El. xxvi.).[9]

The rabbis declare that Michael entered upon his role of defender at the time of the biblical patriarchs. Thus, according to Rabbi Eliezer ben Jacob, it was Michael who rescued Abraham from the furnace into which he had been thrown by Nimrod (Midrash Genesis Rabbah xliv. 16). It was Michael, the "one that had escaped" (Genesis 14:13), who told Abraham that Lot had been taken captive (Midrash Pirke R. El.), and who protected Sarah from being defiled by Abimelech. He announced to Sarah that she would bear a son and he rescued Lot at the destruction of Sodom (Talmud B. M. 86b).

It is said that Michael prevented Isaac from being sacrificed by his father by substituting a ram in his place, and saved Jacob, while yet in his mother's womb, from being killed by Samael (Midr. Abkir, in Yalḳ., Gen. 110). Later Michael prevented Laban from harming Jacob (Pirke R. El. xxxvi.). According to one source, it was Michael who wrestled with Jacob and who afterward blessed him (Targum pseudo-Jonathan to Genesis xxxii. 25; Pirke R. El. xxxvii.).

The midrash Exodus Rabbah holds that Michael exercised his function of advocate of Israel at the time of the Exodus also, when Satan (as an adversary) accused the Israelites of idolatry and declared that they were consequently deserving of death by drowning in the Red Sea (Ex. R. xviii. 5). But according to Midr. Abkir, when Uzza, the tutelar angel of Egypt, summoned Michael to plead before God, Michael remained silent, and it was God himself who defended Israel.

Wood sculpture of Archangel Michael, Szalowa, Poland, 18 century.

Legend makes Michael the teacher of Moses; so that the Israelites are indebted to their advocate for the supreme good of the Torah. This idea is alluded to in Midrash Deuteronomy Rabbah xi. 6 in the statement that Michael declined to bring Moses' soul to God on the ground that he had been Moses' teacher.

Michael is said to have destroyed the army of Sennacherib (Midrash Exodus Rabbah xviii. 5), a deed normally attributed to an otherwise unnamed angel of destruction but perhaps accomplished by Uriel, Gabriel, or others.

Michael is also credited with being the angel who spoke to Moses in the burning bush (an honor often bestowed upon Zagzagel).

He is accepted in lore as well as being the special patron of Adam. Supposedly he was the first angel in all of the heavens to bow down before humanity.[10] Michael then kept an eye on the first family, remaining vigilant even after the fall of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

In the apocryphal Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan, Michael taught Adam how to farm. The archangel later brought Adam to heaven in a fiery chariot, giving him a tour of the blessed realm. After Adam's death, Michael helped convince the Lord to permit Adam's soul to be brought to heaven and cleansed of its great sin. Jewish legend also states Michael to be one of the three "men" who visited Abraham. He is said to have tried to prevent Israel from being led into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar II and to save the Temple from destruction; but the sins of the people were so great that he was powerless to carry his purposes into effect. There is a legend which seems to be of Jewish origin, and which was adopted by the Copts, to the effect that Michael was first sent by God to bring Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem, and that Michael was afterward very active in freeing his nation from Babylonian captivity (Amélineau, "Contes et Romans de l'Egypte Chrétienne," ii. 142 et seq.). According to a midrash, Michael saved Hananiah and his companions from the Fiery furnace (Midrash Genesis Rabbah xliv. 16). Michael was active in the time of Esther: "The more Haman accused Israel on earth, the more Michael defended Israel in heaven" (Midrash Esther Rabbah iii. 8). It was Michael who reminded Ahasuerus that he was Mordecai's debtor (Targum to Esther vi. 1); and there is a legend that Michael appeared to the high priest Hyrcanus, promising him assistance (comp. Josephus, "Ant." xiii. 10, § 3).

The motif of Michael and the dragon appears in Michael's fight with Samael in Assumptio Mosis, x.). This legend is not found in Jewish sources except insofar as Samael or Satan is called in the Kabbalah "the primitive serpent".

The idea that Michael was the advocate of the Jews became so prevalent that in spite of the rabbinical prohibition against appealing to angels as intermediaries between God and his people, Michael came to occupy a certain place in the Jewish liturgy. There were two prayers written beseeching him as the prince of mercy to intercede in favor of Israel: one composed by Eliezer ha-Kalir, and the other by Judah b. Samuel he-Hasid. But appeal to Michael seems to have been more common in ancient times. Thus Jeremiah is said (Baruch Apoc. Ethiopic, ix. 5) to have addressed a prayer to him. "When a man is in need he must pray directly to God, and neither to Michael nor to Gabriel" (Yer. Ber. ix. 13a).

With regard to the nature of the offerings which Michael brings to the altar, one opinion is that they are the souls of the just, while according to another they are fiery sheep. The former opinion, which has become prevalent in Jewish mystical writings, explains the important position occupied by Michael in Jewish eschatology. The idea that Michael is the Charon of individual souls, which is common among Christians, is not found in Jewish sources, but that he is in charge of the souls of the just appears in many Jewish writings.

Michael is said to have had a dispute with Samael over the soul of Moses (Midrash Deut. Rabbah xi. 6.) According to the Zohar, Michael accompanies the souls of the pious and helps them to enter the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem. It is said that Michael and his host are stationed at the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem and give admittance to the souls of the just. Michael's function is to open the gates also of justice to the just. It is also said that at the resurrection, Gabriel will sound the trumpet, at which the graves will open and the dead will rise.

Christian tradition

Saint Michael the Archangel
A 13th-century Byzantine icon from Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai
Canonized pre-congregation
Feast September 29 ("Michaelmas"); May 8; many other local and historical feasts
Attributes Archangel; Treading on Satan or a serpent; carrying a banner, scales, and sword
Patronage Paratroopers; Police officers; Mariners; Grocers; the sick; Paramedics; the German people; the Archdiocese of Toronto; The Cherubim and Seraphim Church Worldwide; the Unification Council of Cherubim and Seraphim Army of Salvation (UCCAS); guardian or protector of the Jewish people.[11]

Canonical New Testament

In the Epistle of Jude St Michael disputes with the Devil over the body of Moses.[12] In the Book of Revelation "...there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down - that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him."[13] Saint John describes Satan being thrown out of heaven three and a half years from the end of the age, "a time, times and half a time".[14] Satan being thrown from heaven coincides with the "abomination that causes desolation" spoken of by Daniel [15]. In Catholic teachings, Saint Michael will also triumph at the end times when he defeats Antichrist.[16] The Book of Daniel (12:1) states: "At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise."[11]

Christian View

According to some Christian theologians, Saint Michael may appear in Scripture where his name is not mentioned. Examples of this include 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 sqq.), the angel who routed the army of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:35).

It may have been natural to St Michael, the champion of the Jewish people, to be the champion also of Christians, giving victory in war to his clients. The early Christians, however, regarded some of the martyrs as their military patrons: Saint George, Saint Theodore, Saint Demetrius, Saints Sergius and Bacchus, Saint Procopius, Saint Mercurius, etc.; but to St Michael they gave the care of their sick. At the place where he was first venerated, in Phrygia (modern-day Turkey), his prestige as an angelic healer obscured his interposition in military affairs. It was from early times the centre of the true cult of the holy angels, particularly of St Michael. Church tradition relates that Saint Michael in the earliest ages caused a medicinal spring to spout at Chairotopa, near Colossae, where all the sick who bathed there, invoking the Blessed Trinity and St Michael, were cured.

The Miracle of St. Michael at Chonae, 12th-century icon from Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai.

Still more famous are the legends of the springs which St. Michael is said to have drawn from the rock at Colossae (Chonae, on the Lycus). Church tradition tells that the pagans directed a stream against the sanctuary of St. Michael to destroy it, but the custodian of the shrine, named Archippus, prayed to St. Michael, and the archangel appeared and split the rock, opening up a new bed to divert the stream, and forever sanctified the waters which came from the gorge. The Orthodox Church believes that this apparition took place about the middle of the first century and celebrates a feast in commemoration of it on September 6[17] as the "Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Chonae."[18] The Monastery of the Miracle in the Moscow Kremlin, where the Russian Tsars were baptized, was dedicated to the Feast of the Miracle at Chonae (Kona). Hot springs at Pythia in Bithynia and elsewhere in Asia Minor were also dedicated to St Michael.

At Constantinople likewise, Saint Michael was a great heavenly physician. His principal sanctuary, the "Michaelion", was at Sosthenion, some fifty miles south of Constantinople. He supposedly visited Emperor Constantine the Great at Constantinople, intervened in assorted battles, and appeared, sword in hand, over the mausoleum of Hadrian, in apparent answer to the prayers of Pope St. Gregory I the Great (r. 590-604) that a plague in Rome should cease. In honor of the occasion, the pope took to calling the mausoleum the "Castel Sant'Angelo" (Castle of the Holy Angel), the name by which it is still known. The sick slept in this church at night to wait for a manifestation of St Michael; his feast was kept there June 9.

Another famous church was within the walls of the city, at the baths of Arcadius; there the synaxis of the archangel was celebrated November 8. This feast spread over the entire Greek Church, and the Syrian, Armenian, and Coptic Churches also adopted it. It is currently the principal feast of St Michael amongst the Eastern Christians. Although originating in Phrygia, its station at Constantinople was known as the "Thermae of Arcadius" (Martinow, "Annus Graeco-slavicus", November 8). Other feasts of St Michael at Constantinople were: October 27, in the "Promotu" Church; June 18, in the Church of St Julian at the Forum; and December 10, at Athaea.

Archangel Michael as represented on a coin of Emperor Michael V.

The early Christians of Egypt placed their life-giving river, the Nile, under the protection of Saint Michael; they adopted the above Greek feast and keep it on November 12. On the twelfth of every month they celebrate a special Commemoration of the Archangel Michael. In addition, on June 12, when the Nile river commences to rise, they keep as a day of obligation the feast of "St Michael for the rising of the Nile."

At Rome, the Leonine Sacramentary (sixth century) has the "Natale Basilicae Angeli via Salaria", September 30; of the five Masses for the feast, three mention St Michael. The Gelasian Sacramentary (seventh century) gives the feast "S. Michaelis Archangeli", and the Gregorian Sacramentary (eighth century), "Dedicatio Basilionis S. Angeli Michaelis", September 29. A manuscript also here adds "via Salaria" (Ebner, "Miss. Rom. Iter Italicum", 127). This Church of the Via Salaria was six miles to the north of the city; in the ninth century it was called Basilica Archangeli in Septimo (Armellini, "Chiese di Roma", p. 85). It disappeared a thousand years ago. At Rome also the part of heavenly physician was given to St Michael. According to a legend of the tenth century, he appeared over the Moles Hadriani (Castel di S. Angelo), in 950, during the procession which St. Gregory held against the pestilence, putting an end to the plague. Pope Boniface IV (608-15) built on the Moles Hadriani in honour of him, a church, which was styled St. Michaelis inter nubes (in summitate circi).[19]

In Normandy, Saint Michael is the patron of mariners in his famous sanctuary at Mont-Saint-Michel in the Diocese of Coutances. He is said to have appeared there, in 708, to St. Aubert, Bishop of Avranches. In Normandy, his feast, "S. Michaelis in periculo maris", or "in Monte Tumba", was universally celebrated on October 18, the anniversary of the dedication of the first church, October 16, 710; the feast is now confined to the Diocese of Coutances.

Saint Aubert's dream
The Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, France

In Germany, after its evangelization, Saint Michael replaced for the Christians the pagan god Wotan, to whom many mountains were sacred, hence the numerous mountain chapels of St. Michael all over Germany. He is also known as the patron saint of the German Nation. His picture bedecked the war standard of the old German Empire (the Holy Roman Empire).

The hymns of the Roman Office are said to have been composed by Saint Rabanus Maurus of Fulda (d. 856). The hymn "Te Splendor" to Saint Michael (which derives its name from the fact that in Latin it begins with Te splendor et virtus Patris) is published in the Raccolta collection of prayers with indulgences, and, in 1817, Pope Pius VII granted an indulgence for saying the hymn.[20]

In art, St Michael is represented as an angelic warrior, fully armed with helmet, sword, and shield (often the shield bears the Latin inscription: "Quis ut Deus?"), standing over the dragon, whom he sometimes pierces with a lance. He also holds a pair of scales in which he weighs the souls of the departed (cf. Rock, "The Church of Our Fathers", III, 160), or the Book of Life, to show that he takes part in the judgment. Michelangelo depicted this scene on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.[21]

His feast (September 29) in the Middle Ages was celebrated as a holy day of obligation, as he was the patron of knights, but along with several other feasts it was gradually abolished since the eighteenth century. Michaelmas Day, in England and other countries, is one of the regular quarter-days for settling rents and accounts; but it is no longer remarkable for the hospitality with which it was formerly celebrated. Stubble-geese being esteemed in perfection about this time, most families had one dressed on Michaelmas Day. In some parishes, (such as the Isle of Skye,) they had a procession on this day and baked a cake, called St Michael's bannock.

Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians often refer to the angel Michael as "Saint Michael", an honorific title that does not indicate canonisation. He is generally referred to in Christian litanies as "Saint Michael the Archangel." Orthodoxy accords him the title "Archistrategos", or "Supreme Commander of the Heavenly Hosts."

St Michael's Victory over the Devil, sculpture above the main entrance to St. Michaelis in Hamburg, Germany.

Saint Michael was usually honored on mountain tops and high places, and many famous shrines to him survive on those places, often replacing shrines of pre-Christian gods concerned with weather, like Wotan.

In Greek folklore, St Michael also assumed the god Hermes' role as the psychopomp who leads souls to Hades, and in the role of weigher of souls on Judgment Day. A related folk belief is that St Michael's face can only be seen by the dead and by those about to die. It is for this reason that some folk icons depict him without a face.

The Altar of the Chapel of Saint Michael, an Episcopal Church in Sagada, Mountain Province, Mountain Province, Philippines.

In the Roman Catholic Church, Saint Michael has four main roles or offices.[22] He is the Christian angel of death, carrying the souls of all the deceased to heaven, where they are weighed in his perfectly balanced scales (hence Michael is often depicted holding scales). At the hour of death, Michael descends and gives each soul the chance to redeem itself before passing, thus consternating the devil and his minions. St Michael is the special patron of the Chosen People in the Old Testament and is guardian of the Church; it was thus not unusual for the angel to be revered by the military orders of knights during the Middle Ages. Last, he is the supreme enemy of Satan and the fallen angels.

In the Roman Catholic calendar of saints and the Lutheran Calendar of Saints, his feast day, once widely known as Michaelmas, is celebrated September 29 and was one of the four quarter days on which accounts were settled and, in England, when terms began in universities. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, his principal feast day is November 8, where he is honored along with the rest of the "Bodiless Powers of Heaven" as their Supreme Commander, and his miraculous appearance at Colossae (see below) is commemorated on September 6.

The last visit, that of his appearance over the mausoleum of Hadrian, certified one major aspect involving Michael, namely his role as an angel of healing. This title was bestowed at Phrygia, in Asia Minor, which also propagated the cult of angels and became a leading center for their veneration. St Michael is reputed to have caused a healing spring to flow in the first century at Colossae, and his churches were frequently visited by the sick and lame. The angel is invoked additionally as the patron of sailors in Normandy (the famous monastery of Mont Saint Michel on the north coast of France is named after him). He is especially remembered in France as the angel who, along with Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret, gave Saint Joan of Arc the courage to save her country from the English during the Hundred Years' War (1337-1455). Perhaps his most singular honor was given to him in 1950 when Pope Pius XII (r. 1939-1958) named him patron of policemen. St Michael is also said to have announced to the Virgin Mary her impending death, declaring himself to be "Great and Wonderful."

A monument to St. Michael, the patron of Kiev at the Independence Square in the center of the city.

According to legend, Michael instructed St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches to build a church on the rocky islet now known as Mont Saint Michel in 708. Also dedicated to Michael was the French Order of St Michel founded in 1469.[23] Today, however, he is more usually associated with police officers, paramedics, EMTs and other emergency workers.[24] He is also claimed as the patron saint of the American airborne units. He is the patron of Ukraine and its capital Kiev and of the archdiocese of Seattle.

In Australia, National Police Remembrance day is commemorated on September 29 each year, being the feast day of St Michael.

Under the influence of the widely read angelology of the Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, among Church fathers much time was spent allotting Michael a rank in the celestial hierarchy: Alfonso Salmeron, Cardinal Bellarmine, Saint Basil the Great's homily (De Angelis) and other Greek fathers place Saint Michael over all the angels; they say he is called "Archangel" because he is the prince of the other angels. Others (cf. P. Bonaventura, op. cit.) believe that he is the prince of the Seraphim, the first of the nine angelic orders. According to Saint Thomas Aquinas (Summa Ia. 113.3), he is the Prince of the last and lowest choir, the angels.

The hymn of the Mozarabic Breviary places St Michael even above the Twenty-four Elders.

A favorite angelic subject in art, matched only by Saint Gabriel, Saint Michael is often depicted as winged and with unsheathed sword. As with all angels' iconography, his wings represent swiftness, his sword means authority or power, and his white raiment stands for his enlightenment.[25] In the Renaissance period, he is shown as young, strong, and handsome, and is most often depicted as a proud, handsome angel in white or magnificent armor or a splendid coat of mail and equipped with sword, shield and spear. His wings are generally conspicuous and very grand. He is usually shown holding in his hand a banner or the scales of justice. Quite often he is seen, like Saint George and in some representations of the Madonna, in conflict with a dragon or standing upon a vanquished devil, who most of the time is Satan.

In Homage to him, King James IV of Scotland named the colossal Carrack, Great Michael, after him. A particular honour considering that it was the largest wind-powered warship of the 16th century.

Apparitions of Saint Michael the Archangel

The Miracle of St. Michael at Chonae, 15th-century Russian icon.
Representation of the Portuguese Carmelite nun Antónia d'Astónaco receiving a private revelation of Saint Michael the Archangel.

The Sacred Tradition of the Orthodox Church celebrates the Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Chonae in Phrygia. According to the account, pagans diverted the stream of the river Lycus against the sanctuary of St. Michael there to destroy it, but Michael the Archangel appeared and split the rock by lightning (or, according to some accounts, with a spear) to open up a new bed for the stream, directing the flow away from the church and sanctifying forever the waters which came from the new gorge. The Orthodox celebrate a feast day in commemoration of this event on 6 September. The Monastery of the Miracle (Chudov Monastery) in the Moscow Kremlin, where the Russian Tsars were baptized, was dedicated to the Feast of the Miracle at Chonae.

The Roman Breviary for May 8 relates the story of the apparition of Saint Michael (494 or 530-40) at his sanctuary on Monte Gargano, where his original glory as patron in war was restored to him. This is further alluded to in a paragraph listed for the feast day of St Michael on this date found in the "Saint Andrew Daily Missal."[26] To his intercession, the Lombards of Sipontum (modern-day Manfredonia) attributed their victory over the Greek Neapolitans May 8, 663. To commemorate this victory, the Church of Sipontum instituted a special feast on May 8 in honour of the archangel, which spread throughout the Latin Church under the name "Apparition of St Michael", although it originally commemorated the victory, not the apparition. The Tridentine Calendar gave this feast the rank of "Double", which was raised in 1602 to the newly invented rank of "Greater Double". In 1960, Pope John XXIII removed it from the General Roman Calendar, along with other cases of second feasts of a single saint.[27]

Also a Portuguese Carmelite nun, Antónia d'Astónaco, had reported an apparition and private revelation of the Archangel Michael who had told to this devoted Servant of God, in 1751, that he would like to be honored, and God glorified, by the praying of nine special invocations. These nine invocations correspond to invocations to the nine choirs of angels and origins the famous Chaplet of Saint Michael. This private revelation and prayers were approved by Pope Pius IX in 1851.[28][29]

During the years 1961 to 1965, four young schoolgirls had reported several apparitions of Saint Michael the Archangel in the small village of San Sebastian de Garabandal, in Cantabria, north Spain. At Garabandal, the apparitions of the Archangel Michael were mainly reported as announcing the arrivals of the Virgin Mary. The Catholic Church has never condemned Garabandal apparitions, and the Vatican has never made an official pronouncement.[30]

Major shrines

For a larger gallery (and hence a structured list) of church images, please see: Saint Michael church gallery.

Latter-Day Saints belief

According to Latter-day Saint theology, Michael lived his mortal life as the patriarch Adam. Michael and Adam are regarded as the same individual; Adam being his mortal name and Michael being his pre-mortal/post-mortal name. Thus, all of the descendents of Adam are the earthly descendents of Michael. Adam's angelic name, Michael ("Who is like God?"), would be descriptive of the man's appearance, being as he was created in the image of the Father. Brigham Young preached on April 9, 1852 that Adam/Michael came to earth with a spiritual purpose, had helped to create the world, and is now an exalted being.[31]

See also: Adam, Noah ~ Gabriel (archangel)

Jehovah's Witness belief

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus and the Archangel Michael are the same, saying "the evidence indicates that the Son of God was known as Michael before he came to earth and is known also by that name since his return to heaven where he resides as the glorified spirit Son of God." [32] He later took human form as Jesus and led a life without sin. After his death on a torture stake, Jesus was resurrected.

See also: Jehovah's witnesses beliefs about Jesus.

Seventh-day Adventist belief

Seventh-day Adventists believe that Michael (meaning "Who is like God?") was another name for the Word-of-God (John 1) before He became incarnate as Jesus. Archangel (meaning "Chief of the Angels") was the leadership position held by the Word-of-God as Michael while among the angels. Michael was the Word-of-God, not a created being, by whom all things were created. The Word-of-God was then born incarnate as Jesus [becoming the Son-of-God] for one purpose, to save mankind by dying a substitutionary death, being resurrected and returning to heaven incarnate. See also: Seventh-day Adventist beliefs about Michael


In Arabic literature, Michael is called Meekal. In the Qur'an, Michael is mentioned once only, in Sura 2:98. In his commentary on verse 98 of that sura, Baiḍawi relates that on one occasion Umar ibn al-Khattab went into a Jewish school and inquired concerning Gabriel. The pupils said he was their enemy, but that Michael was a good angel, bringing peace and plenty. In answer to Umar's question as to the respective positions of Michael and Gabriel in God's presence, they said that Gabriel was on his right hand and Michael on his left. Umar exclaimed at their untruthfulness, and declared that whoever was an enemy to God's angels, to him God would be an enemy. Upon returning to Muhammad, Umar found that Gabriel had forestalled him by revealing the same message, which is contained in verse 98. Muslim commentators state with reference to Sura 11:69 that Michael was one of the three angels who visited Abraham.


In Thief in the Night, the Bahá'í writer, William Sears, interpreted references to Michael as referring to Bahá'u'lláh.[33] He quotes Daniel (10:13): "But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me...'.Daniel was told that this vision concerned "...what shall befall thy people (Israel) in the latter days."Sears interprets this as a prophecy about Bahá'u'lláh, who was a Persian nobleman of Sassanian royal lineage. He also quotes from the Book of Enoch (69:14): "He (God) spoke to holy Michael to discover to them the sacred name, that they might understand that secret name".

Anthroposophy and the occult

The French occultist, Eliphas Levi, the German philosopher Franz von Baader, and the Theosophist Louis Claude de St. Martin spoke of 1879 as the year in which Michael overcame the dragon. This is confirmed by the esoteric writer Rudolf Steiner in a lecture in Zurich on November 13, 1917, where he states: "in 1879, in November, a momentous event took place, a battle of the Powers of Darkness against the Powers of Light, ending in the image of Michael overcoming the Dragon"[34].


In the English epic poem Paradise Lost by John Milton, Michael commands the army of angels loyal to God against the rebel forces of Satan. Armed with a sword from God's armory, he bests Satan in personal combat, wounding his side.[35]

According to a diary authored by Father Raymond Bishop, a Jesuit priest at Saint Louis University, the mere mention of the name of St. Michael caused scratches on a 13-year old boy during an exorcism. Near the end of the exorcism, the boy saw a vision of the Devil and ten of his helpers engaged in a fiery battle with St. Michael. At one point during the dream, the angel smiled at the boy and said "Dominus." Shortly thereafter, the boy shouted out: "Satan! Satan! I am St. Michael, and I command you, Satan, and the other evil spirits, to leave the body in the name of Dominus, immediately." Father Bishop's diary was used by William Peter Blatty as the basis for his book, The Exorcist, and later, by Thomas B. Allen, in his 1993 book Possessed: The True Story of an Exorcism.[citation needed]

See also

Turamichele (Tower-Michael) in Augsburg, Germany


  • Bamberger, Bernard Jacob, (March 15, 2006). Fallen Angels: Soldiers of Satan's Realm. Jewish Publication Society of America. ISBN 0-8276-0797-0
  • Briggs, Constance Victoria, 1997. The Encyclopedia of Angels : An A-to-Z Guide with Nearly 4,000 Entries. Plume. ISBN 0-452-27921-6.
  • Bunson, Matthew, (1996). Angels A to Z : A Who's Who of the Heavenly Host. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-517-88537-9.
  • Cruz, Joan C. 1999. Angels and Devils. Tan Books & Publishers. ISBN 0-89555-638-3.
  • Davidson, Gustav. A Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels. Free Press. ISBN 0-02-907052-X
  • Graham, Billy, 1994. Angels: God's Secret Agents. W Pub Group; Minibook edition. ISBN 0-8499-5074-0
  • Guiley, Rosemary, 1996. Encyclopedia of Angels. ISBN 0-8160-2988-1
  • Kreeft, Peter J. 1995. Angels and Demons: What Do We Really Know About Them? Ignatius Press. ISBN 0-89870-550-9
  • Lewis, James R. (1995). Angels A to Z. Visible Ink Press. ISBN 0-7876-0652-9
  • Melville, Francis, 2001. The Book of Angels: Turn to Your Angels for Guidance, Comfort, and Inspiration. Barron's Educational Series; 1st edition. ISBN 0-7641-5403-6
  • Ronner, John, 1993. Know Your Angels: The Angel Almanac With Biographies of 100 Prominent Angels in Legend & Folklore-And Much More! Mamre Press. ISBN 0-932945-40-6.


  1. ^ a b Daniel 10:13
  2. ^ Jude 1:9
  3. ^ Revelation 12:7
  4. ^ Daniel 10:21, 12:1
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Michael the Archangel". Patron Saints Index. Catholic Community Forum. Retrieved 2007-12-04. 
  7. ^ Bruxelles International : Brussels... Mysterious and esoteric
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Jewish Encyclopedia - Michael". Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  10. ^ Kirkham, Melanie, Beyond Archangel - The Archangel Theme in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Grin Verlag, 2007 [1]
  11. ^ a b Bible gateway, Daniel 12:1
  12. ^ Jude 1:9
  13. ^ Revelation 12:7-9
  14. ^ Revelation 12:14
  15. ^ Daniel 9:27
  16. ^ Catholic encyclopedia
  17. ^ Analecta Bolland., VIII, p 285-328
  18. ^ *Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Chonae
  19. ^ Alban Butler, The lives of the fathers, martyrs, and other principal saints Published by Published by J. Duffy, 1866 page 320
  20. ^ The Raccolta Collection of indulgenced prayers by T. Galli, authorized translation by Ambrose Saint John, Published by Burns and Lambert, London, 1857, page 252
  21. ^ Vatican website: Sistine Chapel
  22. ^ Catholic encyclopedia
  23. ^ Angels in the early modern world By Alexandra Walsham, Cambridge University Press, 2006 ISBN 0521843324 page 2008
  24. ^ Michael McGrath, Patrons and Protectors Published by Liturgy Training, 2001 ISBN 1568541090
  25. ^ Lesser Feasts and Fasts, p. 380 (Episcopal Church).
  26. ^ As found on page 1328 the section reads: During the pontificate of Pope Gelasius I, in 492, St Michael appeared on the summit of Monte Gargano in Apulia, near the Adriatic coast of Italy on the same latitude as Rome. He asked that a church dedicated to him should be built, in which God should be worshipped in memory of himself and all the angels. This shrine was made famous by many miracles. Today's feast celebrates its dedication rather than the apparition itself; just as the feast of September 29 commemorates the dedication of the same Archangel's church at Rome. "The Saint Andrew Daily Missal, with Vespers for Sundays and Feasts," by Dom Gaspar LeFebvre, O.S.B., St Paul, MN, E. M. Lohmann Co., 1952, pp 1,959
  27. ^ General Roman Calendar of 1962
  28. ^ Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 087973910X page 123
  29. ^ EWTN The Chaplet of Saint Michael the Archangel
  30. ^ Garabandal Clarification, a collection of letters, interviews and statements explaining the position of the Church.
  31. ^ Young, Brigham (1852-04-09). "Self-Government - Mysteries - Recreation and Amusements, not in themselves Sinful - Tithing - Adam, our Father and our God". Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  32. ^ Reasoning from the Scriptures, 1985, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, p. 218
  33. ^ Sears, W. (2002) [1961]. Thief in the Night. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 085398008x. 
  34. ^ Steiner, Rudolf (1994) [1917]. Christopher Bamford. ed. The Archangel Michael. Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press. ISBN 0-88010-378-7. 
  35. ^ John Milton, Paradise Lost 1674 Book VI line 320

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