top of page

Who are the three archangels?

The three archangels whom the Church honors by name are St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael. They are also the only three angels who are mentioned by name in Sacred Scripture. The Feast of all three Archangels is September 29. In the traditional calendar this was St. Michael’s feast day, with St. Gabriel’s being March 24th (the day prior to the Annunciation) and St. Raphael’s being October 24th. Communities which celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite still celebrate the three feasts.


What is the difference between an angel and an archangel?

Unlike human beings who share a common nature, St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that as pure spirits each angel has a unique nature. Their degree of likeness to God and His Divine Spirit distinguishes them, rather than the material differences which permit us to identify individual human beings. Nonethless, they can still be classed into groups, called choirs, according to their spiritual similarity to each other and the missions which God has given them. Closest to God are the spirits of the highest choirs, the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones; closest to mankind, and most like us in spirit, are the lower choirs. Among these are the archangels and angels, who serve as greater and lesser messengers (Greek, aggelos) to human beings from God. We have the names of three of the seven arch-messengers, Michael, Raphael and Gabriel in the Sacred Scripture–St. Rapahel identies himself as one of seven who stand before the trhone of God (Tobit 12:15). The names of the other four archangels are not given to us to know, and the Church forbids us to call upon by name any but the three whose names Scripture has revealed. St. Thomas Aquinas gave us the following hierarchical list of the nine angelic choirs and using the traditional names from the Hebrew and Greek through the Latin Vulgate of St. Jerome):

  • Seraphim (Is. 6:2, 6, seraphin)

  • Cherubim (Gen. 3:24, Heb. 9:5, cherubin)

  • Thrones (Col. 1:16, throni)

  • Dominions (Col. 1:16, Eph. 1:21, dominationem )

  • Virtues (Eph. 1:21, virtutem)

  • Powers (Rom. 8:38, Eph. 1:21, potestatem)

  • Principalities (Col. 1:16, Eph. 1:21, principatum)

  • Archangels (Rev. 12:7, Jude 9, archangelus)

  • Angels (over 300 references, angelus)

“Consider how august a privilege it is, when angels are present, and archangels throng around, when cherubim and seraphim encircle with their blaze the throne, that a mortal may approach with unrestrained confidence, and converse with heaven's dread Sovereign! O, what honor was ever conferred like this?” - Saint John Chrysostom

Who is the chief angel in heaven?

St. Michael is the "Prince of the Heavenly Host."

What does Michael mean in Hebrew?

Speaking of St. Michael. Pope St. John Paul II said, “His name is a synthesis that expresses the essential attitude of the good spirits. ‘Mica-EL’ in fact means: ‘Who is like God?’ In this name, therefore, we find expressed the salvific choice thanks to which the angels ‘see the face of the Father’ who is in Heaven.”

Why is Michael the Archangel a saint?

“Saint” indicates that one is holy, whether a human or an angel. The term is used in many ways. St. Paul speaks in his letters of the just as “saints.” The Church speaks of canonized saints, those whose heroic virtue has been demonstrated and whose presence with God has been confirmed by their miraculous intercession. As St. Michael is one of the holy angels, he is a saint in both the general sense of “just,” and in the specific sense of being recognized by the Church as eternally with God. This is also true of St. Gabriel and St. Raphael.

“When you are before the altar where Christ reposes, you ought no longer to think that you are amongst men; but believe that there are troops of angels and archangels standing by you, and trembling with respect before the sovereign Master of Heaven and earth. Therefore, when you are in church, be there in silence, fear, and veneration.” - Saint John Chrysostom

Whom does Saint Michael protect?

Anyone can ask for St. Michael’s protection, but he particularly defends against evil. Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) had a vision of the evil that would come into the world in the coming century. In response, he wrote the St. Michael’s Prayer and instructed it to be prayed at the end of Mass. the Saint Michael Prayer at the end of Masses. The prayer reads: St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

What does the Bible say about St. Michael?

St. Michael is mentioned several times in the Bible. He is first mentioned in the Book of Daniel where he is called “one of the chief princes” (Daniel 10:13). In the Book of Jude, he is specifically called an archangel. The Book of Revelation says: Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:7-9) In each reference, St. Michael is acknowledged as a warrior saint who battles evil, as well as a chief angel (archangel) responsible for other angels (understood as a portion of the ninth choir angels).

What is St. Michael the patron saint of?

He is the patron saint of grocers, soldiers, doctors, mariners, first responders, and police. More importantly, he is the Guardian of the Church, as he was shown to be of Israel in the Old Testament (Daniel 10). Finally, Mother Angelica chose him as the patron for EWTN Radio, as she chose to built the first transmitter, WEWN shortwave, on a spot where he had appeared to her.

“The battle against the devil, which is the principal task of Saint Michael the Archangel, is still being fought today, because the devil is still alive and active in the world.” - Pope St. John Paul II

What does the Bible say about St. Gabriel?

The Book of Daniel mentions two archangels: Michael and Gabriel. In this Old Testament book, St. Gabriel interprets Daniel’s visions. However, St. Gabriel is best known for his role in the New Testament. Zechariah, a Jewish priest, and his wife Elizabeth had been unable to have children, and Elizabeth was well beyond childbearing years. St. Gabriel approached Zechariah while the priest was burning incense in the temple. The angel said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John” (Luke 1:13). However, Zechariah doubted his words. In response, the archangel said, “I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time” (Luke 1:19-20). This child who was born to Zechariah and Elizabeth was St. John the Baptist. St. Gabriel also appeared to Mary at the Annunciation: In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:26-38).

The fish symbol is a sign of St. Raphael’s role in spiritual and material healing.