Monday, March 1, 2010

Archangel Michael

Michael (archangel)

Michael (Hebrew: מיכאל,) is the archangel mentioned in the Book of Revelation 12:7;
7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. (Revelation 12:7)
Guido Reni’s archangel Michael (in the Capuchin church of Sta. Maria della Concezione, Rome) tramples Satan with the vividly recognizable features of Pope Innocent the Hebrew Bible Michael is mentioned by name in the Persian context of the post-Exilic Book of Daniel. There in Daniel does Michael appear—as "one of the chief princes" (Daniel 10:13) who in Daniel's vision comes to the angel Gabriel's aid in his contest with the angel of Persia, and is also described there as the advocate of Israel and "great prince who stands up for the children of your (Daniel's) people" (Daniel 10:21, 12:1). The Talmud tradition rendered his name as meaning "who is like El (God)? (but literally "El's Likeness")" (compare the late prophet Micah), but according to Rabbi Simeon ben Lakish (AD 230–270), all the specific names for the angels were brought back by the Jews from Babylon, and many modern commentators would agree. Michael is one of the principal angels in Abrahamic tradition; his name was said to have been the war-cry of the angels in the battle fought in heaven against Satan and his followers.

Guido Reni's archangel Michael (in the Capuchin church of Sta. Maria della Concezione, Rome) tramples Satan with the vividly recognizable features of Pope Innocent X.

The figure of Michael probably originated in Chaldea as a protective god or spirit. Accepted by the Jews, he emerged as so major an angel in Jewish lore that he was honored as the patron angel of the nations (out of seventy, or seventy-two according to other sources) who did not fall from grace, his bias entirely understood since it favored God's Chosen People.Much of the late Midrash detail about Michael was transmitted to Christian mythology through the Book of Enoch whence it was taken up and further elaborated. In late medieval Christianity, Michael together with St George became the patron of chivalry, and the patron 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 American paratroopers, regard him as their patron saint.
Catholics refer to him as St Michael the Archangel and also simply as St Michael while Orthodox Christians refer to him as the Taxiarch Archangel Michael or simply Archangel Michael.

Jewish tradition and the Hebrew Bible

The 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 (Daniel 10:13, 21). Later in the vision (Daniel 12:1), Daniel is informed that Michael will stand for Israel during the tribulation to come. There is no further mention of Michael in the Hebrew Bible but the Christian book of Revelation finished details about the tribulation to come that the book of Daniel started.

The Book of Joshua

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) has the character of Michael the Archangel, as the 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. (Joshua 5:13–15)

Rabbinic traditions

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.).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.
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; He 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. Michael than 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 Nebuchadrezzar 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 Firey 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 John Hyrcanus, promising him assistance (comp. Flavius Josephus, "Ant." xiii. 10, § 3).
St. Michael‘s Victory over the Devil, sculpture above the main entrance to St. Michaelis (Hamburg) in Hamburg, Germany.

St. Michael‘s Victory over the Devil, sculpture above the main entrance to St. Michaelis (Hamburg) in Hamburg, Germany
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It was Michael's fight with Samael (with the devil in Assumptio Mosis, x.) which gave rise to the well-known legend of Michael and the dragon. This legend is not found in Jewish sources except in so far 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 discussion 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.

Hebrew apocrypha

In the War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness, Michael is described as the prince of light, leading forces of good 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 Satan.

The 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). In the book of Jubilees (i:27 and ii:1), the angel who is said to have instructed Moses on Mount Sinai and to have delivered to him the tables of the Law is most probably Michael.

Kabbalistic traditions

In later Jewish writings, particularly in Kabbalistic works, he is viewed as "the advocate of the Jews."

Christian tradition

Canonical New Testament

Saint Michel in Paris, Fontaine

Saint-Michel in Paris, Fontaine
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In the Epistle of Jude of the New Testament in verse 9, Michael disputes with Satan over the body of Moses. In Revelation 12:7-8, "And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven." 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" Revelation 12:14. Satan being thrown from heaven coinsides with the "abomination that causes desolation" as spoken of by the prophet (Daniel 9:27).

Christian apocrypha

In the Apocalypse of Moses (book 1) of the Christian Apocrypha, it is stated that Moses received the two tablets through the mediation of Michael.


Christian legend

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 sqq.), the angel who routed the army of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:35).It would 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: St. George, St. Theodore, St. Demetrius, St. Sergius, St. Procopius, St. Mercurius, etc.; but to St. Michael they gave the care of their sick. At the place where he was first venerated, in Phrygia, his prestige as 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. Tradition relates that St. 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.
Still more famous are the springs which St. Michael is said to have drawn from the rock at Colossae (Chonae, on the Lycus). A legend tells that the pagans directed a stream against the sanctuary of St. Michael to destroy it, but the archangel split the rock by lightning to give a new bed to the stream, and sanctified forever the waters which came from the gorge. The Greeks claim that this apparition took place about the middle of the first century and celebrate a feast in commemoration of it on 6 September (Analecta Bolland., VIII, 285-328). Also at Pythia in Bithynia and elsewhere in Asia the hot springs were dedicated to St. Michael.
At Constantinople likewise, St. Michael was the 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 9 June.
Archangel Michael as represented on a coin of Emperor Michael V.Another famous church was within the walls of the city, at the thermal baths of the Emperor Arcadius; there the synaxis of the archangel was celebrated 8 November. This feast spread over the entire Greek Church, and the Syrian, Armenian, and Coptic Churches adopted it also; it is now the principal feast of St. Michael in the Orient. It may have originated in Phrygia, but its station at Constantinople was the Thermae of Arcadius (Martinow, "Annus Graeco-slavicus", 8 Nov.). Other feasts of St. Michael at Constantinople were: 27 October, in the "Promotu" church; 18 June, in the Church of St. Julian at the Forum; and 10 December, at Athaea.
The Christians of Egypt placed their life-giving river, the Nile, under the protection of St. Michael; they adopted the Greek feast and kept it 12 November; on the twelfth of every month they celebrate a special commemoration of the archangel, but 12 June, when the river commences to rise, they keep as a holiday of obligation the feast of St. Michael "for the rising of the Nile", euche eis ten symmetron anabasin ton potamion hydaton.
At Rome the Leonine Sacramentary (sixth century) has the "Natale Basilicae Angeli via Salaria", 30 September; 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", 29 Sept. 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 an (apocryphal?) 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. 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).
Well known is the apparition of St. Michael (a. 494 or 530-40), as related in the Roman Breviary, 8 May, at his renowned sanctuary on Monte Gargano, where his original glory as patron in war was restored to him. To his intercession the Lombards of Sipontum (Manfredonia) attributed their victory over the Greek Neapolitans, 8 May 663. In commemoration of this victory the church of Sipontum instituted a special feast in honour of the archangel, on 8 May, which has spread over the entire Latin Church and is now called (since the time of Pius V) "Apparitio S. Michaelis", although it originally did not commemorate the apparition, but the victory.
In Normandy St. 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 18 Oct., the anniversary of the dedication of the first church, 16 Oct., 710; the feast is now confined to the Diocese of Coutances.
In Germany, after its evangelization, St. 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 (Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation).
The hymns of the Roman Office are said to have been composed by St. Rabanus Maurus of Fulda (d. 856). 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. His feast (29 September) 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 (Isle of Skye) they had a procession on this day and baked a cake, called St. Michael's bannock.
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.
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, Michael also assumed 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 Michael's face can only be seen by the dead and those about to die; for this reason some folk icons depict him without a face.
The Catholic Church honors Michael with four main titles or offices. 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. 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 Calendar of the Saints, his feast day, once widely known as Michaelmas, is celebrated September 29 and was one of the four Irish Quarter days on which accounts were settled and the third of the English quarter days when university terms began. In Eastern Orthodoxy his principal feast day is November 8 when he is honored along with the rest of the "Bodiless Powers of Heaven" as their leader, and his miraculous appearance at Colossae (see below) is commemorated on September 6.
His elevated position is made clear by his title of saint, by the number of churches dedicated to him, and by his many appearances in history. He supposedly visited Emperor Constantine the Great (d. 337) 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 last visit 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. 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 spirit who gave 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. Michael is also said to have announced to the Virgin Mary her impending death, declaring himself to be "Great and Wonderful."
Medieval Christians considered St. Michael as the symbol or emblem of the Church Militant and as the patron saint of soldiers, in the Roman Catholic liturgy, Princeps militiae coelestis quem honorificant angelorum cives ("Prince of the celestial army whom the city of angels honor").
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. Today, however, he is more usually associated with police officers, paramedics, EMTs and other emergency workers. He is also the patron of Ukraine and its capital Kiev and of the archdiocese of Seattle.
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: Salmeron, Cardinal Bellarmine, Basil the Great's homily (De Angelis) and other Greek fathers place 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 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 Gabriel, Michael is often depicted as winged and with unsheathed sword. 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 St. George or some Madonnas, in conflict with a dragon or standing upon a vanquished devil, who most of the time is Satan.

Other Christian denominations

In Latter-day Saint theology, [through modern day, prophetic revelation], Michael lived a mortal life as the patriarch Adam. Michael and Adam are regarded as the same person. Michael is the name of the pre-mortal and post-mortal Adam. Adam being created in God's image is believed to be in the same likeness of the Father (along with Seth, Adam's son, and Jesus, God's Son). Adam's angelic name Michael ("he who is like El") would be genuinely descriptive of Michael's appearance with a body genetically in the image of the Father. Brigham Young preached on April 9, 1852 that Adam/Michael came to earth in a spiritual form, helped create the world, and was a god himself too.Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus and the Archangel Michael are the same being. They believe that Jesus/Michael was the first being that God created, and assisted with the creation of the universe, the angels, and mankind. In this prehuman existence he was known as the Word of God. He later took human form as Jesus and led a life without sin. After his death on an alleged torture stake, Jesus was resurrected in his previous spiritual form.
Seventh-day Adventists also tend to take the belief that Michael is a name of Jesus, however they believe that archangel does not mean angel, but chief of the angels and thus that Michael is the Son of God, Jesus. The Jehovahs Witness and Seventh-day Adventist view both ultimately descend from the Millerite tradition before the Great Disappointment.
Several Baptists have taught that Michael and Jesus are the same person, but in contrast to the Jehovah's Witnesses, they viewed him as being the uncreated, divine Son of God rather than an angel. Examples include the evangelist Charles Spurgeon and the commentator John Gill. The Presbyterian commentator Matthew Henry was of a similar opinion, as was the writer of the footnotes in the 1599 Geneva Bible.

  • St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery in Kiev.
  • Mont Saint Michel - a World Heritage Site
  • St. Michael's Church, Hildesheim - a World Heritage Site
  • Skellig Michael, off the Irish west coast - a World Heritage Site
  • Archangel Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin - a World Heritage Site
  • Chudov Monastery in the Moscow Kremlin, where the future Russian tsars were baptized
  • St. Michael Chapel in Košice, Slovakia
  • Monte Sant'Angelo sul Gargano, Gargano, Italy
  • Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
  • Saint-Michael, Bamberg, Germany (tomb of Otto of Bamberg, Apostle of Pomerania)
  • Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis, Simi, Greece
  • St Michael's Mount, Cornwall, England
  • Michaelhouse Chapel, Balgowan, KZN, South Africa
  • Sacra San Michele, Val di Susa, near Turin, Italy
  • St Michael's Church in Vienna, Austria
  • San Miguel del Milagro, Tlaxcala, México
  • Saint Michael's Cathedral, Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA
  • Monastery of the Holy Taxiarchs Michael and Gabriel, Mantamados, Lesbos


In Arabic literature, Michael is called Mika'il or (in the Qur'an) Mikal. In the Qur'an Michael is mentioned once only, in Sura 2:98. In his commentary on verse 91 of that sura, Baiḍawi relates that on one occasion Omar 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 Omar'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. Omar exclaimed at their untruthfulness, and declared that whoever was an enemy to God and His angels, to him God would be an enemy. Upon returning to Mohammad, Omar found that Gabriel had forestalled him by revealing the same message, which is contained in verse 92. Muslim commentators state with reference to Sura 11:72 that Michael was one of the three angels who visited Abraham.Among the Muslims, Michael is one of the four archangels (with Izrail, Israfil, and Jibrail), and one of the two angels, with Gabriel, named in Qur'an. He resides in the seventh heaven and is popularly believed to have wings of emerald green.
In Islamic tradition Michael always appears as second to Gabriel. When God was creating Adam, He sent first Gabriel and then Michael to fetch the clay out of which man is to be formed. Both were restrained by the earth's protests; only Azrael pays no heed to them. When Adam and Eve are expelled from paradise, Gabriel is sent to the former, and Michael to the latter, to impart comfort. On his death-bed Mohammed stated that Gabriel would be the first and Michael the second to pray over him.

Michael in angelology and the occult

Modern occultists associate Michael with the color Red, the direction South and the element Fire.In other forms of occultism, Michael is said to be the spirit of the planet Mercury. He is ruler over Sunday and Thursday. He is the alchemy of motivation, activation and achievement. He is said to be bringer of the gift of patience, and angel of careers, courage, achievements, ambitions, motivation, and life tasks. Michael's candle colors are orange, white and gold. His color energies are orange, violet, white, crystal, gold, and brown.
In The Urantia Book, Jesus and Michael are identified with each other much as they are in the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Popular culture

Milton's Paradise Lost

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.In the film Terminator 2: Judgement Day, the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) strikes the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) on the right side, splitting the T-1000 from the shoulder down, exactly in the manner depicted in Paradise Lost.

Role in The Exorcist

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. Now! NOW! N-O-W!"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.

The movie Michael

The Archangel Michael was the title character, played by John Travolta, in the 1996 movie Michael. The film was a comedy about an "unconventional angel" found living on Earth.

In comics

Michael is a notable figure in the DC Comics series Lucifer written by Mike Carey. In this series, he is the brother of Lucifer Morningstar and is described as being the power of God as he holds the demiurgos inside his body which was used by God in the creation of the Universe. Lucifer releases this internal power inside an injured Michael and so births his own cosmos in the first story arc of the series.The Archangel Michael is also prominently featured in the Chaos! Comics Lady Death book in 2001 titled "Love Bites". Michael narrates his adventures as being sent to persuade Lady Death to the good side before the coming apocalyptic war. At first, Lady Death finds contentment, but is thrown into a rage when she believes Michael to be insincere about his feelings.
In the Christian comic mini-series Archangels: The Saga published by Cactus Games Designs, the archangel Michael is God's champion who defeats a demonic overlord. What is unique to previous incarnations is that Michael's appearance is in contemporary/futuristic holy armor that is consistent with the superhero genre. In this version Michael is portrayed as a warrior of epic scale, with the ability to fly, produce defensive force shields against supernatural magic, project energy blasts, and wield a holy sword with expert skill.

The TV syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess

The episode, "Fallen Angel", Michael was a warrior angel played by Charles Mesure that rescues the title character Xena played by Lucy Lawless and her sidekick friend Gabrielle played by Renee O'Connor after their souls were intercepted traveling to Heaven. Michael battles hordes of demon angels once the plan was to make a final assault on Heaven. Michael was also instrumental in acquiring the final redemption to Xena's nemesis Callisto played by Hudson Leick. The episode "Heart of Darkness", Michael again teams with Xena and Gabrielle to trick a cocky Archangel Lucifer deeper into his own sinful arrogance. The episode "The God you Know", has Michael enlisting the help of Xena and Gabrielle to put an end to the Emperor Caligula.

New Age Messages

There have been a number of New Age gurus who have 'channelled' messages from Archangel Michael. Most notable among these are Elizabeth Clare Prophet--now no longer channeling due to Alzheimer's Disease--and Ronna Herman.


  • The Jewish Publication Society of America
  • Rashi commentary
  • Analecta Bolland., VIII, 285-328
  • Young, Brigham (1852-04-09). Self-Government - Mysteries - Recreation and amusements, not in themselves sinful - Tithing - Adam, our Father and our God. Retrieved on 2007-06-21.
  • The BBC - Welsh place names
  • Sears, W. [1961] (2002). Thief in the Night. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 085398008x.
  • Steiner, Rudolf [1917] (1994). in Christopher Bamford: The Archangel Michael. Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press. ISBN 0-88010-378-7.


  • 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.

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