By tradition, there are seven archangels. Three are well- known by name, Gabriel, Raphael and Michael. The others have had various names assigned over time, with no finalized consensus.

Gabriel (“God is Great”) is seen as a messenger in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Book of Daniel, he is described as the “man in linen”, who appears to Daniel in both his dreams and in person to explain the visions that Daniel has. Daniel was frightened at first then learned to trust the angel.

In the Book of Enoch, which is not in the Bible but is an honored document, Gabriel is described as a guardian angel of Israel, along with Michael. They defend their people against the angels of other nations.

Gabriel is best known in his role as a messenger in the Book of Luke. He first appeared to Zechariah to foretell the birth of John as Zechariah was alone in the temple. The older man was frightened until Gabriel treated him with kindness. When Zechariah objected to the prediction, on account of his age, Gabriel said “I am Gabriel who stands before God and am sent to speak to thee and to bring you these Good Tidings”.

And we all know the story of Gabriel appearing to Mary, proclaiming, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” Mary, too, was troubled until he explained his message of hope.

Since Gabriel delivered messages in dreams, he may be the one who told Joseph not to be afraid of taking Mary as his wife.

Considering that he managed to frighten almost anyone when he appeared, he probably has a larger than life appearance, or perhaps a radiance that is impossible to miss?

St. Gabriel is the patron of messengers, radio broadcasters, postal workers, stamp collectors, and ambassadors, among others.

Michael (“Who is like God?”) is seen as the fighter and protector, standing against all evil spirits and principalities. He, too, is mentioned in both books of the Bible. In Daniel 10:13, he is referred to as “one of the chief princes” and in Daniel 12:1, he is named “the great prince”. He is said to stand guard over Israel.

In the Book of Jude, Michael is quoted as saying “The Lord rebuke you”, to evil ones. This shows that Michael knows his place as subordinate to God. He does not judge or rebuke. He leaves that to his superior.

In other places in the Bible and in post Biblical appearances, Michael is implied has having a prominent role in events associated with the end times.

St. Michael is the patron of Vatican City, police, military, paratroopers, firefighters and paramedics.

Archangel Raphael (“God heals”) is not as well known, but one book of the Bible tells a whole story about how he affected a family. This is the Book of Tobit. The story is that Tobit was an older man who had gone blind. His son, Tobias, needed to go get money that had been left in a far away town. Along came a long-lost relative, Azarias (“Yahweh helps”), who offered to accompany Tobias on his adventure. Along the way, Tobias learned that a beautiful young woman named Sarah was possessed and lost her husbands just before their wedding nights. Azarias helped Tobias to solve the possession, win the bride and get his money all on one trip. The newly married couple and Azarias returned home where the relative told them that he is really Raphael the angel who adopted a human look to help them. When they returned home, Raphael healed Tobit before leaving them.

In the Book of Enoch, Raphael is “the angel of the spirits of men,” and it is his business to “heal the earth which the angels [i.e., the fallen angels] have defiled.” 

In the Gospel of John, Raphael is the implied angel who stirred the healing pool at Bethesda.

St. Raphael is the patron of travelers, the blind, nurses, physicians and medical workers.

September 29 is the Feast of the Archangels.

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