A Day of Archangels

Today is the Feast Day of the Archangels!

September 29 traditionally was set aside as the Feast Day of St. Michael the Archangel. (The word “saint” simply means “holy.”) Then the Church made it the feast day of all the Archangels.
Three Angels are named in the Bible:

  1. Michael
  2. Gabriel: in Hebrew, the name means “God is my might”
  3. Raphael: in Hebrew, the name means “God has healed”

Notice that all three names end with “El” — which means God, in Hebrew. Thus, each Archangel’s name ending in “el” means they are “of God.”

Archangel Gabriel appears to Mary
The Annunciation by Sandro Botticelli, 1485

The word “angel,” in Greek is angelos; in Hebrew is malach; in Arabic is mala’ika — which all mean “messenger.”
Angels are incorporeal (bodiless) spiritual beings who act as intermediaries between God and humanity. Angels are defined by their function as messengers or message-bearers, although this function does not exhaust their activities because they were created by God to serve the supreme deity by fulfilling any and all tasks assigned to them.
In other words, being an angel or messenger simply denotes one of their functions, not their nature. St. Thomas Aquinas maintained that each angel is unique, a species unto itself — truly a mind-boggling idea.
Major philosophers — such as Thomas Aquinas, René Descartes, John Locke, and most recently, the American philosopher Mortimer Adler — have put forth compelling reasons for the existence of Angels. (For the conversion of Adler, a Jew, to the Catholic faith, see the moving account, “A Philosopher-Pagan Comes Home.)
Theologians maintain there is a hierarchy of Angels, due to the fact that in Genesis 3:24, Isaiah 6:1-7, Ezekiel 1, 10, Romans 8:38, Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, 6:12, Colossians 1:16, 2:10, 2:15, allusions are made to “seraphim,” “cherubim,” “thrones,” “dominions,” “mights,” “powers,” and “principalities” in the “heavenly places.”
Dionysius and St. Thomas Aquinas delineated three hierarchies of Angels, with each hierarchy comprised of three orders:

  • 1st hierarchy: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones.
  • 2nd hierarchy: Dominions, Virtues, Powers.
  • 3rd hierarchy: Principalities, Archangels, Angels.

Of the nine angelic orders, five are sent by God for external ministry among bodily creatures, as indicated by their names of Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels—all of which refer to some kind of administrative or executive office. Of these five orders, only the last three minister to human beings, which suggests Virtues and Powers minister to other bodily creatures — likely including all the non-human animals whom St. Bonaventure called “creatures without sin”!

  • Principalities are in charge of the whole of humanity.
  • Archangels minister to nations — their leaders and those persons whom God tasks with special work to do on Earth.
  • Angels, the last order, are God’s messengers to and guardians of individual human beings.

The name “Lucifer” means “Morning Star,” “Son of the Dawn,” or “Light Carrier.” For that reason, theologians believe that Lucifer was a high-order Angel, most likely the highest order — a Seraphim. Aquinas thought him to be “probably the highest of all the angels.” But Lucifer admires and loves himself more than his Creator and thinks himself to be “as God.” And so, swollen with narcissism and grandiosity, Lucifer rebelled, taking a third of the angelic beings with him.
StMichaelTheArchangelBut, a lower-order Angel, full of courage and love of God, rallied together two-thirds of the angelic ranks against the apostates, in the First War that began the enduring conflict between good and evil:

Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it. (Revelation 12:7-9)

That braveheart’s name is Micha-el, which means “Who is like God?”
I like to think “Who is like God?” is Micha-el‘s battle cry . . . .
St. Michael the Archangel is believed to be the captain or prince of the heavenly armies and the most beloved of all the Angels. He is mentioned in Daniel 10:13,31; 12:1 (where he is said to be the prince of the people of Israel); in Jude 9 (where he is said to have disputed with the devil about the body of Moses); and in Revelation 12:7 (where he is said to have led the heavenly armies against those of the great dragon).
Described in Revelation 10:1 as a “mighty angel…with a halo around his head; his face was like the sun and his feet were like pillars of fire,” St. Michael is generally portrayed by artists as wearing full armor and carrying a sword or lance, with his foot on the neck of a dragon. (Pictures of the martyred St. George are often similar, but only Micha-el has wings.)
michaelfrMichael has four main titles or offices. He is:

  • Patron of the Chosen People in the Old Testament.
  • Patron saint and defender of the Church.
  • The Angel of death, who assists Jesus in the final judgment (thus, Michael is sometimes depicted with a scale).
  • Leading the good angels against the fallen angels or demons. For that reason, Christians consider St. Michael the most powerful defender of God’s people against evil. As such, Michael is also the patron saint of soldiers and policemen. (For the Prayer to St. Michael, go here.)

All of which is why St. Michael the Archangel — the Braveheart of Angels — is my most favorite saint, whom I admire and love with all my heart. He is my captain. As you can see from this blog’s masthead, he is also the protector of Fellowship of the Minds.

Happy Feast Day, St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael!

Thank you for inspiring us with your humility, courage, goodness, and love for God.
Thank you, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, for creating the marvelous Angels!
For a fascinating account of one man’s experience with the Archangel Michael, click here. Check out FOTM’s other saints and angels posts, here!

  1. Mortimer J. Adler, The Angels and Us (New York: Macmillan, 1982).
  2. Matthew Bunson, Angels A to Z: A Who’s Who of the Heavenly Host (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1996), pp. 181-184.
  3. Michael H. Brown, Prayer of the Warrior (Goleta, CA: Queenship Publishing Co., 1993), p. 34.
  4. René Descartes, Meditations On First Philosophy, trans. by Donald A. Cress (Indianapolis & Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1979).
  5. John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, edited with an introduction by A. D. Woozley (Cleveland & New York: Meridian Books, 1968),
  6. Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, Volume One(New York: Benziger Brothers, 1947).
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Steven BroilesTim Sheypnordmancgtraildustfotm Recent comment authors
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Words really cannot express how fervently we need St. Michael’s protection and guidance. I actually recite the prayer to St. Michael every time I see mr. soetero on t.v. just before I change the channel! It is my way of shielding myself from his evil influence. Thank you for this wonderful informative post.


Thank you dear Dr. Eowyn for this most wonderul post, for your research on the Archangels and all angels and for reminding us of this important Feast Day. Your Treatise on the angels shows us how much Our Lord loves us, to ask these holy angels to help us and to guide us! Happy Feast Day St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael! We Love You and We Honor You! I am so happy today for so many reasons!


I know very little about the history of angels. Thank you for this post. I’m going to reblog it, so I have it in my archives. God protect you.


Reblogged this on Parzival's question.

Alice Wolf

This is a beautiful posting, thank you so much Dr. Eowyn. My son bears the name Angel it’s his third Christian name, and he broke some bones in one of his feet and nonetheless is travelling in the US, he lives in Paris France, on business and most likely going to a wedding in Miami of his wife’s sister next week. He was advised by the doctor who he got a second opinion from to stay in bed for six weeks until his bones healed, but he decided to carry on and be careful. This article is most cheering because… Read more »


I will pray for healing for “Angel’s” foot, Alice. I hope he is using a soft cast or cane or something!
Just imagine all of our angels together as we gather in church, at weddings, barbecues, etc. Isn’t that glorious? I’m also smiling now thinking of our angels watching us as we type, reading our words over our shoulders.


I just came from an absolutely wonderful and joyous celebration of St. Michael in our Parish. Everyone came together and we had a great time. St. Michael is the Prince of the Catholic Church, and the Guardiuan and Protector of the Catholic Church, with another role of ushering souls who are redeemed into heaven. What a significant day this is!!!



Lynda Carmichael Thull

I just came here for this time last night by referral of a friend. In 2007 we had started a long research of Obama and it wasnt looking good. After his election we buried ourselves in our Lives hoping 4 yrs would go by fast. It did but we took to our research and tried to make voters aware, I do believe we prevailed but it wasn’t in the cards as your article explained to her and I about the GOP. However in my research last yr it brought me to religion over and over again which called out to… Read more »


Thank you Dr. Eowyn for proclaiming the Feast Day of the Archangels, St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael. Our wonderful pastor gave an interesting and superb homily about them today. I can imagine the big party they are having in Heaven for these magnificent Archangels. I love them all very much, especially St. Michael, the patron of FOTM.

Alice Wolf

Just an update on my angel, Charles Louis Angel my only son, he just sent me photos of his boys in Perugia Italy where they are at the Baci chocolate factory.
Baci is KISS in Italian and this is in appreciation of FOTM and the angel who runs it.


Thank you for the encouraging lesson about angels, Dr. Eowyn.


Reblogged this on Catholic Glasses.


Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this most wonderful and scholarly post on the holy Archangels! I also learned from our pastor in his homily at Mass that St. Michael is the patron saint of the Holy Eucharist which I found fascinating. We must pray to St. Michael to protect and preserve the Holy Eucharist from the Satanists who desecrate it. You are such an effective soldier in the army of St. Michael.


What an awesome post, dear Dr. Eowyn! Our youngest son is named Michael, a very special man. There is so much information here – my eternal gratitude for FOTM and our Dr. Eowyn. You are in daily prayer in our household.

Tim Shey

Here is an angel story that happened in my life a number of years ago:
“Hitchhiking in Nebraska”

Tim Shey

Here is a book on angels that you might like to read:
“Angels on Assignment”


Thank God for His angels. We may never know how many times they have saved our lives. In my case, I count a terrible fall while skiing a mogul field, a motorcycle crash, a fall from a zip line, and so many more things I walked away from. Invisible hands were at work.

Steven Broiles

Excellent post. I understand that the knowledge each angel possesses was INFUSED in him by God. Our guardian angel knows almost every single thing about us and our lives, and he knew it from the moment of his creation! Our guardian angel knows everything we shall ever say, do and think! Angels are possessed of a superior intellect. They have foreknowledge of future events (up to a point). My understanding of Lucifer is he rebelled not because he first hated God, but because he loved God—up to the moment when God commanded him to love and serve creatures lower than… Read more »