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Michaelæ(Hebrew:æ???????? (pronouncedæ[?mix???el]),æMicha'elæoræMÓkh?'?l;æGreek:æ??????,æMikha?l;æLatin:MichaelæoræMÕchaÔl;æArabic:æ??????? ,æM?kh?'?l) is anæarchangelæin Jewish, Christian, and Islamic teachings.Roman Catholics, theæEastern Orthodox,æAnglicans, andæLutheransærefer to him asæSaint Michael the Archangelæand also simply asæSaint Michael.æOrthodox Christiansærefer to him as theæTaxiarchæArchangel Michaelæor simply Archangel Michael.
In Hebrew,æMichaelæmeans "who is like God" (mi-who,æke-as or like,æEl-deity), which is traditionally interpreted as a rhetorical question: "Who is like God?" (which expects an answer in the negative) to imply thatæno oneæis likeæGod. In this way, Michael is reinterpreted as a symbol of humility before God.
In theæHebrew BibleæMichael is mentioned three times in theæBook of Daniel, once as a "great prince who stands up for the children of your people". 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.
In theæNew TestamentæMichael leads God's armies against Satan's forces in theæBook of Revelation, where during theæwar in heavenæhe defeats Satan. In theæEpistle of JudeæMichael is specifically referred to as an "archangel". Christian sanctuaries to Michael appeared in the 4th century, when he was first seen as a healing angel, and then over time as a protector and the leader of the army of God against the forces of evil. By the 6th century, devotions to Archangel Michael were widespread both in theæEasternæandæWestern Churches. Over time, teachings on Michael began to vary among Christian denominations.
In theæHebrew Scriptures, and hence in theæOld Testament, the prophetDanielæexperiences a vision after having undergone a period of fasting. In the vision inæDaniel 10:13-21æan angel identifies Michael as the protector ofæIsrael. Daniel refers to Michael as a "prince of the first rank".æLater in the vision inæDaniel 12:1æDaniel is informed about the role of Michael during the "time of the End" when there will be "distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations" and that:
In view of this, Michael is seen as playing an important role as the protector of Israel, and later of theæChristian Church.
Although the three references to Michael in theæBook of Danielæ10:13, 10:21 and 12:1 are to the same individual who acts in similar ways in all three cases, the last one is set at the "end times" while the first two refer to local time in Persia.æThese are the only three references to Archangel Michael in the Hebrew Bible.
The references to the "captain of the host of the Lord" encountered byJoshuaæin the early days of his campaigns in theæPromised Land(Joshua 5:13-15) have at times been interpreted as Michael the Archangel, but there is no theological basis for that assumption, given that Joshua then worshiped this figure, and angels are not to be worshiped. Some scholars also point that the figure may refer to God himself.æIn the book of Joshua's account of the fall of Jericho, Joshua "looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand". When the still unaware Joshua asks which side of the fight the Archangel is on, the response was, "neither...but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come".
TheæBook of Revelationæ(12:7-9) describes aæwar in heavenæin which Michael, being stronger, defeats Satan:
After the conflict, Satan is thrown to earth along with theæfallen angels, where he ("that ancient serpent called the devil") still tries to "lead the whole world astray".
Separately, in theæEpistle of Judeæ1:9æMichael is specifically referred to as an "archangel" when he again confronts Satan:
A reference to an "archangel" also appears in theæFirst Epistle to the Thessaloniansæ4:16
This archangel who heralds theæsecond coming of Christæis not named,æbut is probably Michael.
Michael (Arabic: ???????,æMikhailæ???????,æMikaelæ), is one of the two archangels mentioned in theæQur'an, alongsideJibreelæ(Gabriel). In the Qur'an, Michael is mentioned once only, inæSura 2:98: "Whoever is an enemy to God, and His angels and His messengers, and Jibreel and Mikhail! Then, lo! God (Himself) is an enemy to the disbelievers."æSome Muslims believe that the reference inæSura 11:69 is Michael, one of the three angels who visitedæAbraham.
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 angelæSamael, 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.æMichael is also said to have had a dispute with Samael over the soul of Moses.
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 ben Samuel he-Hasid. But appeal to Michael seems to have been more common in ancient times. Thus Jeremiah is said to have addressed a prayer to him.æ"When a man is in need he must pray directly to God, and neither to Michael nor toæGabriel."
Theærabbisædeclare 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.
It is said that Michael preventedæIsaacæfrom being sacrificed by his father by substituting a ram in his place, and savedæJacob, while yet in his mother's womb, from being killed by Samael.æLater Michael prevented Laban from harming Jacob.(Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer, xxxvi). It was Michael who wrestled with Jacob and who afterward blessed him.
TheæmidrashæExodus Rabbahæholds 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 byædrowningæin the Red Sea. Michael is also said to have destroyed the army ofSennacherib.
The early Christians regarded some of theæmartyrsæsuch asæSaint George, andæSaint Theodore, as military patronsæ; but to St Michael they gave the care of their sick and he was first venerated as a healer inæPhrygia(modern-day Turkey).
The earliest and most famous sanctuary to Saint Michael in the ancient near east was also associated with healing waters. It was theMichaelionæbuilt in early 4th century byæEmperor ConstantineæatChalcedon, on the site of an earlier Temple calledæSosthenion.
A painting of the Archangel slaying a serpent became a major art piece at the Michaelion after Constantine defeatedæLiciniusænear there in 324, eventually leading to the standardæiconographyæof Archangel Michael as aæwarrior saintæslaying a dragon.æThe Michaelion was a magnificent church and in time became a model for hundreds of other churches inEastern Christianityæwhich spread devotions to the Archangel.
In the 4th century,æSaint Basil the Great's homily (De Angelis) placed Saint Michael over all the angels. He was calledæ"Archangel"æbecause he is the prince of the other angels.æInto the 6th century, the view of Michael as a healer continued in Rome, when after a plague the sick slept at night in the church ofæCastel Sant'Angeloæ(dedicated to him for saving Rome), waiting for his manifestation.
In the 6th century the growth of devotions to the saint in theæWestern Churchæwere manifested by the feasts dedicated to him, as recorded in theæLeonine Sacramentary. The 7th centuryæGelasian Sacramentaryæincluded the feastæ"S. Michaelis Archangeli", as did the 8th centuryæGregorian Sacramentary.æSome of these documents refer to a no longer extantæBasilica Archangeliæonævia Salariaæin Rome.
TheæangelologyæofæPseudo-Dionysiusæwhich was widely read as of the 6th century gave Michael a rank in thecelestial hierarchy.æLater, in the 13th century, others such asæBonaventureæbelieved that he is the prince of theSeraphim, the first of the nine angelic orders. According toæSaint Thomas Aquinasæ(SummaæIa. 113.3), he is the Prince of the last and lowest choir, the angels.
Roman Catholics often refer to Michael as "Saint Michael", a title that does not indicateæcanonisation, any more than it does for Saint Peter and Saint Paul. He is generally referred to in Christianælitaniesæas "Saint Michael", as in theæLitany of the Saints. In the shortened version of this litany used in theæEaster Vigil, he alone of the angels and archangels is mentioned, omitting Saint Gabriel andæSaint Raphael.
In theæRoman Catholic teachingsæSaint Michael has four main roles or offices.æHis first role is the leader of the Army of God and the leader of heaven's forces in their triumph over the powers of hell.æHe is viewed as the angelic model for the virtues of theæspiritual warrior, with the conflict against evil at times viewed as theæbattle within.
The second and third roles of Michael in Catholic teachings deal with death. In his second role, Michael is the angel of death, carrying the souls of all the deceased to heaven. In this role, 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. Catholic prayers often refer to this role of Michael. In his third role, he weighs souls in his perfectly balanced scales (hence Michael is often depicted holding scales).
In his fourth role, St Michael, the special patron of the Chosen People in the Old Testament, is also the guardian of the Church; it was thus not unusual for the angel to be revered by the military orders of knights during theMiddle Ages. This role also extends to his being the patron saint of a number of cities and countries.
Roman Catholicism includes traditions such as theæPrayer to Saint Michaelæwhich specifically asks for the faithful to be "defended" by the saint.æTheæChaplet of Saint Michaelæconsists of nine salutations, one for each choir of angels.
It should be noted that the Roman Catholic traditions and teachings concerning St. Michael the Archangel arenotærequired beliefs and practices but rather are strongly encouraged as a means of individuals and congregations increasing in spiritual strength against evil.
TheæEastern Orthodoxæaccord Michael the title "Archistrategos", or "Supreme Commander of the Heavenly Hosts."æThe Eastern Orthodox pray to their guardian angels and above all to Michael and Gabriel.
The Eastern Orthodox have always had strong devotions to angels, and the trend continues to date with the term "Bodiless Powers" applied to them.æA number of feasts dedicated to Archangel Michael are celebrated by the Eastern Orthodox throughout the year.
Archangel Michael is mentioned in a number of Eastern Orthodox hymns and prayer, and his icons are widely used within Eastern Orthodox churches.æIn many Eastern Orthodox icons, Christ is accompanied by a number of angels, Michael being a predominant figure among them.
In Russia many monasteries, cathedrals, court and merchant churches are dedicated to the Chief Commander Michael, and most Russian cities have a church or chapel dedicated to the Archangel Michael.
The place of Michael in theæCoptic Orthodox Church of Alexandriaæis aæsaintly intercessor, where he is seen as the one who presents to God the prayers of the just, who accompanies the souls of the dead to heaven, who defeats the devil. He is celebrated liturgically on the 12th of each month.æIn Alexandria, a church was dedicated to him in the early fourth century on the 12th of the month of Ba'unah. On the 12th of theæmonth of Hathoræis the celebration of Michael's appointment in heaven, where Michael became the chief of the angels.
Most Protestant Christians (excludingæAnglicans) generally reject theintercession of saintsæas a whole.æHowever, an unofficialæAnglicanæprayer of preparation before Mass includes a confession to "Michael the Archangel" as well as other saints such asæJohn the Baptist.
Protestant denominations generally recognize only two archangels, Michael andGabriel, usually emphasizing Michael, unlike Judaism, Roman Catholicism, and Eastern Orthodoxy which may at times recognize seven (and in rare cases eight) archangels, with Michael, Gabriel, andæRaphaelægenerally regarded with an elevated status, e.g. being the only archangels honored by name in Catholicism.
Some earlyæProtestantæscholars identified Michael with theæpre-incarnate Christ, basing their view, partly on the juxtaposition of the "child" and the archangel in Revelation 12, and partly on the attributes ascribed to him in Daniel.æSimilarly in 1751æAnglicanæbishop Robert Clayton held that Michael was theæLogosæand Gabriel theæHoly Spirit, an extreme position which resulted in his prosecution, just before he died.
Michael continues to be recognized among Protestants by key churches dedicated to him, e.g.æSt. Michaelis Church, Hamburg, a famousæLutheran Churchæwhich appears on the coins of theæEuropean Union.
At Bach's time, the annual feast of Michael and all the angels on 29 September was regularly celebrated with a festive service, for which Bach composed several cantatas, for example theæchorale cantataæHerr Gott, dich loben alle wir, BWV 130æin 1724.
Jehovah's Witnessesæbelieve Michael to be another name foræJesus Christæin heaven, in his pre-human and post-resurrection existence.æThey assert that, because a definite article is used at Jude 9 when referring to "Michael the Archangel", and because the term "archangel" is used only in the singular in the Bible, never clearly in the plural, that therefore Michael is the only archangel, and therefore synonymous with Jesus, who is described at1æThessalonians 4:16æas descending "with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet". They also understand Jesus as saying inæBook of Revelationæ3:12 that on "the one that conquers" he will write "that new name of mine".
They believe the prominent roles assigned to Michael at Daniel 12:1 and Revelation 12:7; 19:14, 16 are identical to Jesus' roles, as the one chosen to lead God's people, and as the one who "stands up", identifying them as the same spirit being. Because they identify Michael with Jesus, he is therefore considered the first and greatest of all God's heavenly sons, God's chief messenger who takes the lead in vindicating God'sæsovereignty, sanctifying his name, fighting the wicked forces of Satan, and protecting God's covenant people on earth.æJehovah's Witnesses also identify Michael with the "Angel of the Lord" who led the Israelites in the wilderness.æ
Seventh-day Adventistsæbelieve that Michael is another name for the Heavenly Christ, and another name for theWord-of-Godæ(as inæJohn 1) before He became incarnate as Jesus.æArchangelæ(meaning "Chief of the Angels") was the leadership position held by the Word-of-God as Michael while among the angels. So according to Adventist theology, Michael was considered the "eternal Word", and not a created being or created angel, and the one by whom all things were created. The Word was then born incarnate as Jesus.
Seventh-day Adventistsæbelieve the name "Michael" is significant in showing who it is, just as "Immanuel" (which means "God with us") is about who Jesus is. They believe that name "Michael" signifies "one who is God" and that as the "Archangel" or "chief or head of the angels" He led the angels and thus the statement inRevelation 12:7-9æidentifies Jesus as Michael.
Seventh-day Adventistsæbelieve that the term 'Michael' is but one of the many titles applied to the Son of God, the second person of the Godhead. But, according to Adventists, such a view does not in any way conflict with the belief in His full deity and eternal pre-existence, nor does it in the least disparage His person and work.
In the Seventh-day Adventist view, the statement inæ1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:æ"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God"æidentifies Jesus as Archangel, which is Michael.æAnd the Seventh-day Adventists believe thatæJohn 5:25-29æalso confirms that Jesus and Michael are the same.
Seventh-day Adventistsæbelieve there is and can only be one archangel and that one Archangel is named Michael and yet in Scripture is shown as doing what also applies to Christ even from the beginning, so is Christ pre-incarnate. There was a perception that Adventists were relegating Jesus to something less thanædivineæor less than God but that is not valid since Seventh-day Adventism theology teaches and is expresslyæTrinitarian.
Latter-day Saintsæ(also known informally asæMormons) believe that Michael isæAdam, theæAncient of Daysæ(Dan. 7), a prince, and the patriarch of the human family and that Michael assistedæJehovahæ(the heavenly form ofJesus Christ) in the creation of the world under the direction ofæGod the Father.
In theæRoman Catholic calendar of saints,æAnglican Calendar of Saints, and theæLutheran Calendar of Saints, the archangel's feast is celebrated onæMichaelmasæDay. The day is also considered the feast of SaintsæGabriel, andRaphaelæor theæFeast of Saint Michael and All Angels. On the WesternæChristian calendaræthe feast is celebrated on 29 September.
In theæEastern Orthodox Church, Saint Michael's principal feast day is November 8 (November 21 by most Orthodox churches since they use theæJulian calendar), where he is honored along with the rest of theæ"Bodiless Powers of Heaven"æ(i.e.æangels) as their Supreme Commander, and theæMiracle at Chonaeæis commemorated on September 6.
In lateæmedieval Christianity, Michael, together withæSaint George, became theæpatron saintæofæchivalryæand is now also considered the patron saint of police officers and the military.
In mid to late 15th century, France was one of only four courts inæWestern Christendomæwithout an order of knighthood.æLater in the 15th century,æJean Molinetæglorified the primordial feat of arms of the archangel as "the first deed of knighthood and chivalrous prowess that was ever achieved."æThus Michael was the natural patron of the firstæchivalric orderæof France, theæOrder of Saint Michaelæof 1469.æIn theæBritish honours system, a chivalric order founded in 1818 is also named for these two saints, theæOrder of St Michael and St George.æTheæOrder of Michael the Braveæis Romania's highest military decoration.
Apart from his being a patron of warriors, the sick and the suffering also consider Archangel Michael their patron saint.æBased on the legend of his 8th centuryapparitionæatæMont-Saint-Michel, France, the Archangel is the patron ofæmarinersæin this famous sanctuary.æAfter the evangelisation of Germany, where mountains were often dedicated to pagan gods, Christians placed many mountains under the patronage of the Archangel, and numerous mountain chapels of St. Michael appeared all over Germany.æHe has been the patron saint ofæBrusselsæsince the Middle Ages.æThe city ofæArkhangelskæin Russia is named for the Archangel.æUkraineæand its capitalæKievæalso consider Michael their patron saint and protector.
AnæAnglicanæsisterhood dedicated to Saint Michael under the title of theæCommunity of St Michael and All Angelswas founded in 1851.æTheæCongregation of Saint Michael the Archangelæ(CSMA), also known as theMichaelite Fathers, is a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church founded in 1897.
There is a legend which seems to be of Jewish origin, and which was adopted by theæCopts, to the effect that Michael was first sent by God to bringæNebuchadnezzaræ(c. 600 BC) against Jerusalem, and that Michael was afterward very active in freeing his nation from Babylonian captivity.æAccording to midrashæGenesis Rabbah, Michael savedæHananiahæand his companions from theæFiery furnace.æMichael was active in the time ofEsther: "The more Haman accused Israel on earth, the more Michael defended Israel in heaven".æIt was Michael who remindedæAhasuerusæthat he wasæMordecai's debtor;æand there is a legend that Michael appeared to the high priestæHyrcanus, promising him assistance.
TheæOrthodox Churchæcelebrates theæMiracle at Chonaeæon September 6.æThe legend states that the pagans directed a stream against the sanctuary of St Michael to destroy it, but Archippus (the custodian) prayed to Michael, the archangel appeared and split the rock 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.æThe spring which came forth after this event is said to have special healing powers.æThe legend existed in earlier times, but the 5th-7th century texts that refer to the miracle at Chonae formed the basis of specific paradigms for "properly approaching" angelic intermediaries for more effective prayers within the Christian culture.
There is a late 5th century legend inæCornwall, UK that the Archangel appeared to fishermen onæSt Michael's Mount.æAccording to author Richard Freeman Johnson this legend is likely a nationalistic twist to a myth.æCornish legends also hold that the mount itself was constructed by giantsæand thatæKing Arthuræbattled a giant there.
The legend of the apparition of the Archangel at around 490 AD at a secluded hilltop cave onæMonte Garganoæin Italy gained a following among theæLombardsæin the immediate period thereafter, and by the 8th century pilgrims arrived from as far away as England.æTheæRoman Breviaryæthen recorded it on May 8, the date on which the Lombards attributed their 663 victory over theæGreekæNeopolitanæto the intercession of the Archangel.æTheæSanctuary of Monte Sant'Angeloæat Gargano is a major Catholic pilgrimage site.
According to Roman legends, while a devastating plague persisted in Rome, Archangel Michael appeared with a sword over theæmausoleumæofHadrian, in apparent answer to the prayers of Pope StæGregory I the Greatæ(c. 590-604) that the plague should cease. After the plague ended, in honor of the occasion, the pope called the mausoleumæ"Castel Sant'Angelo"(Castle of the Holy Angel), the name by which it is still known.
According toæNormanælegend, Michael is said to have appeared toæSt Aubert,æBishop of Avranches, in 708, giving instruction to build a church on the rocky islet now known asæMont Saint-Michel.In 966 theæDuke of Normandyæcommissioned aæBenedictineæabbey on the mount, and it remains a major pilgrimage site.
AæPortugueseæCarmeliteænun,æAntÑnia d'AstÑnaco, had reported an apparition andæprivate revelationæof theæArchangel Michaelæwho had told to this devotedæServant 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 famousæChaplet of Saint Michael. This private revelation and prayers were approved byæPope Pius IXæin 1851.
From 1961 to 1965, four young schoolgirls had reported several apparitions of Archangel Michael in the small village ofæGarabandal, Spain. At Garabandal, the apparitions of the Archangel Michael were mainly reported as announcing the arrivals of theæVirgin Mary. TheæCatholic Churchæhas neither approved nor condemned theGarabandal apparitions.
In the Englishæepic poemæParadise LostæbyæJohn Milton, Michael commands the army of angels loyal to God against the rebel forces ofæSatan. Armed with a sword from God's armory, he bests Satan in personal combat, wounding his side.
Most Jewish teachings interpret theæSecond Commandmentæas against the use of "graven images" as visual art.æIslamic art's focus onæcalligraphy, rather than painting and sculpture, similarly derives from the association ofidolatryæwith the depiction of human or angelic forms.
InæChristian art, Archangel Michael may be depicted alone or with other angels such asæGabriel. Some depictions with Gabriel date back to the 8th century, e.g. the stone casket atæNotre Dame de Mortainæchurch in France.
The widely reproduced image ofæOur Mother of Perpetual Help, an icon of theæCretan school, depicts Michael on the left carrying the lance and sponge of theæcrucifixion of Jesus, with Gabriel on the right side ofæMary and Jesus.
In many depictions Michael is represented as an angelic warrior, fully armed with helmet, sword, and shield.æThe shield may bears the Latin inscriptionæQuis ut Deus.æHe may be standing over a serpent, a dragon, or the defeated figure of Satan, whom he sometimes pierces with a lance.æThe iconography of Michael slaying a serpent goes back to the early 4th century, whenæEmperor ConstantineædefeatedæLiciniusæat theæBattle of Adrianopleæin 324 AD, not far from theæMichaelionæa church dedicated to Archangel Michael.
Constantine felt that Licinius was an agent of Satan, and associated him with the serpent described in theæBook of Revelationæ(12:9).æAfter the victory, Constantine commissioned a depiction of himself and his sons slaying Licinius represented as a serpent - a symbolism borrowed from the Christian teachings on the Archangel to whom he attributed the victory. A similar painting, this time with the Archangel Michael himself slaying a serpent then became a major art piece at the Michaelion and eventually lead to the standardæiconographyæof Archangel Michael as aæwarrior saint.
In other depictions Michael may be holding a pair of scales in which he weighs the souls of the departed and may hold theæbook of lifeæ(as in theæBook of Revelation), to show that he takes part in the judgment.However this form of depiction is less common than the slaying of the dragon.æMichelangeloædepicted this scene on the altar wall of theæSistine Chapel.
InæByzantine artæMichael was often shown as a princely court dignitary, rather than a warrior who battled Satan or with scales for weighing souls on theæDay of Judgement.