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The Feast of the Holy Archangels: Their Identity & Mission

Sep 28, 2016 By Gretchen Filz

On September 29th the Church honors the Holy Archangels. Although there are believed to be seven archangels (based on Tobit 12:15 and Rev. 8:2), only these three are mentioned by name in the Catholic Bible:

Only one of them, St. Michael, is specifically called an archangel in Scripture. According to Catholic tradition, the archangels are an order of angels within a hierarchy of angelic hosts. In all, there are nine ranks, or choirs, of angelic beings.

 

As derived in part from the teaching of St. Paul the Apostle and later developed by Church theologians, these nine choirs of angels are (in ascending order):

1) Angels,  2) Archangels, 3) Virtues, 4) Powers, 5) Principalities, 6) Dominions, 7) Thrones, 8) Cherubim, and 9) Seraphim.

The nine choirs of angels are broken into three groups of three, but beyond this basic organization there is not much more in Sacred Tradition about the specific duties and distinctions of these mysterious creatures of God.

I.     1. Seraphim (highest)

        2. Cherubim

        3. Thrones

 

II.    4. Dominions

        5. Virtues

        6. Powers

 

III.  7.  Principalities

        8.  Archangels

        9.  Angels (lowest)

 

According to this chart, it may be surprising that the archangels are one of the lowest ranks of angelic creatures.  Archangels are called such because their choir is above that of the lowest angels (among these are our Guardian Angels), therefore they are referred to as the "princes" of the angels that rank beneath them.

We can discern from this ranking of angels that the lower choirs have closer dealings with events on earth, while the higher choirs attend the throne of God in heaven.

Both angels and archangels are the angelic beings that have direct dealings with humans as recorded in the Catholic Bible. The archangels are seen to be the highest of all God's messenger angels and they are given the most important missions. Of the seven, St. Michael is regarded as the highest ranking.

The Feast of the Archangels St. Gabriel, St. Michael, and St. Raphael is September 29th.

Saint Michael the Archangel

Michael means, "Who is like God?"  Of the three angels mentioned by name in the Catholic Bible, St. Michael the Archangel is mentioned the most. He is found in the Old Testament in Daniel 10:13-21, 10:21, 12:1, and in the New Testament in Rev. 12:7-9 and Jude 1:9.

St. Michael is most known for doing battle against Lucifer (who could have been a seraph) and casting him and the other fallen angels out of heaven. Because of this feat, he is known as the leader or prince of the angels.

St. Michael is the champion of God's people and the protector of the Church.  He is also regarded as the angel who brings the souls of men to their judgment before God, thus being the angel of judgment.

Saint Gabriel the Archangel

Gabriel means "Power of God."  St. Gabriel the Archangel is mentioned the most in the Bible after St. Michael.  He is found in the Old Testament in Daniel 8:15-26 and 9:21-27, and in the New Testament in Luke 1:11-38.

St. Gabriel is most known for his messenger role in the Annunciation.  He is the angel who appeared to Zachariah and the Blessed Virgin Mary announcing the birth of St. John the Baptist and Incarnation of Jesus Christ, respectively.

He is also believed by some to be the angel who appeared to St. Joseph and the shepherds at Christ's nativity, as well as the angel who comforted Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Because of this he is known as the herald angel, and the angel of mercy and consolation.

Saint Raphael the Archangel

Raphael means "God has healed."  St. Raphael the Archangel is only mentioned once in the Catholic Bible, in Tobit chapter 12.

In this passage he was a companion, protector, and healer.  He is also believed to be the angel who stirred the water in the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, giving it its healing properties, as mentioned in the New Testament.  He therefore is regarded as a healing angel and a companion angel.

 

Learn more about these amazing creatures that God has appointed to lead us to our salvation by looking up each Bible reference mentioned above and read the accompanying stories.  Consider also having a special devotion to one (or all!) of these angelic saints.

From the Responsorial Psalm of today's Mass reading for the Feast of the Archangels:

R.  In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,

for you have heard the words of my mouth;

in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;

I will worship at your holy temple

and give thanks to your name.

Learn more about the Holy Archangels, St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael.

This article has been updated and was originally published in September 2012. © The Catholic Company

Comments

Jack
Jack says
Oct 25 2018 6:50PM
If Angels don't have a physical form or at least don't take on one, then how could Tobias and Saint Raphael have traveled to the home of Sara if Saint Raphael didn't have a physical form?
Hello Jack. Angels are indeed pure spirits, but they are able to appear in a way perceivable to humans (in this case, a visible presence) according to the designs of God's will, when He so desires it for a specific purpose.
Loree
Loree says
Oct 23 2018 4:30PM
I love the angles and archangel I collect them all my life st Michael the archangel has been my protector for ever I know he's always with me and I thank him so much for all he does for me God bless you all
Michael
Michael says
Oct 4 2018 11:21PM
I enjoyed reading this beautiful blog and I hope it inspires others. My name is Michael, and my son's name is Gabriel. We have a nephew named Rafael. We believe in the power of Angels. Gabriel had challenges growing up. We prayed and prayed, and had faith that we would receive help. Now he is doing great. Great to see similar stories here. It is real.
Phil Meyer
Phil Meyer says
Sep 23 2018 9:02AM
Why are angels depicted with wings? I think that is demeaning and strange to non religious or non Christian religions.
Hello Phil. As angels are not physical beings, but purely spiritual ones, they do not have physical bodies. Any written or physical description of angels are to help us as human, physical beings to formulate an image of them. In the Christian-Catholic Scriptures, the angels are described as having wings, flying, and ascending and descending from Heaven. Because angels are primarily described there as being messengers and guides, the inclusion of wings is commonly said to be "symbolic of the ability to travel swiftly and deliver God’s messages." As to this particular depiction being demeaning or strange, I don't have an answer, as, given the explanation above, it wouldn't make sense to be offended by this.
Aidan Byarufu
Aidan Byarufu says
Sep 5 2018 10:40AM
few days ago, on the night of August 30th, thieves broke into my house. When we were screaming for help with the alarm very loud and later they smashed my room window so that we could stop the alarm, my 15months daughter kept peaceful calm and once she only called "dad, mom" and remained silent into our bed like she was asking us to stop screaming, to not panic. Up to now am still puzzled by all the events of that day, since for almost 30minutes they were inside the house, they never forced open the door to our room, there were two others who were outside the gate and these ones were just idling out there not in a way of trying to get inside or offer help to the other two who were already in. They only took one mobile phone that was left charging. Inside my house they only injured, minor injury into the head, into my young brother as they had asked him to give them money or phone and he told them he has nothing to give. In short at times I feel like they were paralyzed not knowing what to do.

Why am I sharing this here?

My young daughter, the 15years old, is called Ariella. While i gave the name for its meaning of "Lioness of God" and making sure it sounds close to her sister's name, Arianna, I had no idea or to say I had never looked into more history until after this event I went back to read more on Archangel Ariel from an article I had come across few weeks past. I now feel believe that it's no just coincidence that I named her Ariel but truly Archangel Ariel is living with us in her to ensure that our needs for food, water, and shelter are met and we are well protected.
Ruth Young
Ruth Young says
Apr 3 2018 6:29AM
One of my Grandsons has Downs Syndrome and He goes to Saint Michaels school in New Orleans, Louisiana. It is a school that helps special children and believe me there are miracles happening there all the time. Michael will be 18 on June 5, 2018 his progress has been fantastic. Saint Michael has touched our little Michael and our family in so many wonderful ways. I ask him always to watch over us.

The Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph along with Saint Michael take our petitions to JESUS for us.

May GODS BLESSINGS be with you and may The BLESSED MOTHER bring Peace to the world and our Country.

Ruth Young
Sherrill Nurnberger
Sherrill Nurnberger says
Sep 27 2017 10:39AM
Blessed Be God in his angels and saints...now and forever! Amen!!!
Denise Adams
Denise Adams says
Dec 13 2016 12:33AM
Archangel Gabriel's month is July, his day number is 13. My DOB.

I took a photo of Jesus on the block at st. Cecilias Holy Cross cemetary in Velva, ND and the photo shows his left hand turned to flesh.

Who is on the Lord's left side? Archangel Gabriel.
Michael St. James
Michael St. James says
Nov 6 2016 6:10AM
All angels are created as male as there was never a need for procreation in the Heavenly Creation. That need was only necessary when God created Adam and Eve in accordance with His plan for Creation of a worshiping being to praise his holy name.
Michael St. James
Michael St. James says
Nov 6 2016 5:47AM
I was born on Sept. 29, 1954. My mom told me that I was 5 weeks late and that was because I did not want to come out into this world because the world would hate me. I am now 62 and can confirm my mom's words. Also, on this date that I was born, it coincided with the Feast of the Tabernacles and Rosh Hashanah. I received Jesus into my heart at the age of 34 and have since seen Jesus Christ in a vision while he was dieing on the cross and also on May 13, 2011, the Great White Throne of the Father made a visit with me in my bedroom after hearing rolling thunder and experiencing a mild earth trembler beneath my home.
Pete
Pete says
Oct 2 2016 6:14PM
The book of Revelation states that each angel opened his scroll. Is the Bible incorrect about male or female angels. I'm really confused.
Hi Pete, humans are male and female; angels are not material substances and have no kind of body, and are not male or female. Each angel is its own species.
Terri Smith
Terri Smith says
Oct 2 2016 6:05PM
The only problem that I have with the article is that there are seven Archangels, all of equal importance. These are the light stands before God in the Book of Revelations. If we write of some, we should write of them all. The archangels of heaven are angel Michael, angel Gabriel, angel Raphael, angel Uriel and angel Jehudiel. The two archangels that complete the list are angel Sealtiel and angel Barachiel. Their names have the suffix "el," which means "of God.
Hi Terri, the only "good" angels mentioned by name in canonical Scripture are Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel. The other angels you mention are not in the Catholic Bible, and are not part of Catholic tradition. They are apocryphal.
Maggie
Maggie says
Oct 1 2016 11:22PM
How do we know if our angel is a male or a female?
Hi Maggie, angels are neither male nor female, they do not have material bodies. They are pure spirits.
Betty M
Betty M says
Sep 29 2016 5:07PM
Do angels have human bodies in heaven?

Does each person have one specific angel that is assigned only to them or do they watch over multitudes of people?
makena
makena says
Sep 29 2016 2:15PM
its beautiful day and I like the archangels
Millie
Millie says
Sep 29 2016 1:29PM
On the feast of our holy angels, protect us with the most high! Amen.
Carolyn
Carolyn says
Sep 29 2016 11:15AM
How do we know there were seven archangels if we only know three by name? Could be more or fewer.
Hi Carolyn, in the opening sentence are two bible references that shed more light on this.
Theresa
Theresa says
Sep 29 2015 11:15AM
How do you know who your guardian is?
Hi Theresa, you cannot know 'who' your guardian angel is, but you can know for certain 'that' you have one who is always watching over you.
Gigi
Gigi says
Sep 29 2015 3:42AM
Happy FeastDay Archangels Michael, Gabriel & Raphael ??
Maria
Maria says
Sep 27 2015 8:15PM
Thank you so so much!!!
Andrea
Andrea says
Sep 30 2014 6:40PM
Hello

When I meditate I call in 13 Archangels. Are you familiar with them?
Hi Andrea, it is believed that there are only 7 Archangels among the multitude of angels.
Pat Wilson
Pat Wilson says
Sep 30 2014 10:59AM
I learned so much from this article. Thank you.
Sandra
Sandra says
Sep 30 2014 10:27AM
Very nice to read. God Bless You
Lorraine Martin
Lorraine Martin says
Sep 29 2014 11:12PM
I have a great devotion to the angels especially St. Michael because he has been my guardian angel since I was a pre-teen andI am now 71. Michael thank you for protecting and watching over me.
Juliet
Juliet says
Sep 29 2014 11:16AM
I have prayed to Archangel Michael many times and I have felt his strength and power of protection.

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Commentary by

Gretchen Filz Gretchen Filz

Gretchen is a Lay Dominican with a passion for fostering an increase in Catholic faith and devotion through content writing and journalism. She works as a digital content writer, creator, and marketer for The Catholic Company. In addition to blogging at GetFed.com, she is also editor of the MorningOffering.com daily devotional email and author at GoodCatholic.com. She holds an M.A. in Christian Apologetics and converted to the Catholic Church in 2011. She is also active in R.C.I.A., pro-life work, and various faith-based web projects.

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