Icon of the Holy Archangels, Michael,Gabriel and Raphael
Each liturgical year, on September 29, Catholics around the world celebrate the feast of the Holy Archangels, Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.
Michael is spoken of in both the Old and New Testaments; he is mentioned three times in the Book of Daniel, once in the Epistle of Jude, and then again in the Book of Revelation. It is principally from St. John’s prophecies in the Book of Revelation regarding the significant role that Michael will play in the end-times, under the leadership of Our Lady, the “Woman clothed with the sun,” that veneration of Michael as “The Prince of the Heavenly Hosts” and protector of God’s People from “the wickedness and snares of the Devil” and Evil Spirits, comes. Michael’s war cry, “Who is like God,” can be understood as a rhetorical question, for the answer must always be “no one.” Thus, Michael comes to epitomize the virtue of humility, which is precisely what puts him at odds with Lucifer who, as the highest of the angelic spirits, fell from his lofty position in heaven and was driven into the infernal darkness of hell by Michael.
Lucifer, which, when translated, means, “Light Bearer,” once occupied the highest rank and position amongst the entire Angelic court. Yet, God put the Angelic Spirits to a test, and because their intelligence, unlike that of man, is/was so perfect, no possibility of forgiveness could be afforded to them. Lucifer succumbed to the temptation of pride, as he became enamored with his own beauty, strength, power, and superb rational faculties of intellect and will. In his arrogance, this once great Angelic Spirit, along with one-third of all the angels whom Lucifer had gathered together as allies in a great heavenly rebellion against God, were all cast into the abyss of hell by the Archangel Michael, the Warrior Prince.
It is interesting to note that while the rank of “Archangel” is much lower than that of the “Seraphim,” who are regarded as occupying the highest of angelic ranks, Michael is yet considered the “Prince of the Heavenly Hosts” and the “leader” of the Angelic Spirits. Moreover, Michael is honored by Christians, Jews and Muslims alike.
As a Patron Saint, Michael is invoked by numerous persons of numerous professions, nations, city-states, dioceses and congregations. Among the most well-known are police officers, soldiers, warriors, paratroopers and pilots. Yet, numerous persons, professions, associations, nations, city-states and dioceses have taken Michael as their Patron. Thus, Michael is the official Patron Saint of/for each of the following:
Against danger at sea; against temptations; ambulance drivers; artists; bakers; bankers; banking; barrel makers; battle; boatmen; coopers; dying people; emergency medical technicians; EMTs; fencing; Greek Air Force; greengrocers; grocers; haberdashers; hatmakers; hatters; holy death; knights; mariners milleners; paramedics; paratroopers; police officers; radiologists; radiotherapists; sailors; security guards; sick people; soldiers; Spanish police officers; storms at sea; swordsmiths; watermen; England; Germany; the dioceses of Mobile, Alabama; Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida;Rouyn-Noranda, Québec; San Angelo, Texas; Seattle, Washington; Sherbrooke, Canada; Springfield, Massachusetts; Toronto, Ontario; Albenga, Italy ; Argao, Cebu, Philippines; Basey, Samar, Philippines; Brecht, Belgium; Brendola, Italy; Brussels, Belgium; Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico; Caltanissett, Sicily, Italy; Carpineto Sinello, Italy; Castel Madama, Italy; Cerveteri, Italy; Cornwall, England; Cuneo, Italy; Dormagen, Germany; Dunakeszi, Hungary; Gaby, Italy; Gravina, Italy; Iklin, Malta; London, England; Marcianise, Italy •Naranjito, Puerto Rico; Papua, New Guinea; Puebla, Mexico; Salgareda, Italy; San Miguel, Iloilo, Philippines; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; Sant’Angelo Romano, Italy; Saracinesco, Italy; Sibenik, Croatia; Siegburg Abbey; Toronto, Ontario; Umbria, Italy; Vallinfreda, Italy; Zeitz, Germany; Congregation of Saint Michael the Archangel.
Gabriel is probably best known for his role as the messenger who announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she was “full of Grace,” and had “found favor with the Lord.” Gabriel’s greeting to Mary constitutes the origin of the opening greeting used in the “Ave Maria,” or “Hail Mary” prayer: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” He is considered to be the patron of stamp collectors and postal workers, as both are involved in the work of sending or carrying “good news” to persons.
Raphael is known as “the medicine of God” and as the patron of Catholic singles searching for a spouse. He is invoked as a mighty patron for the ill and all persons suffering from any type of malady of body, mind or soul. Moreover, he is additionally the patron of travelers by land, sea or air, as he accompanied the young Tobias while the latter journeyed, providing special protection from harm throughout Tobias’ travels. Additionally, Raphael is the patron of lovers and single men and women in search of a spouse, and this came to be as a consequence of the assistance he provided to Tobias.
Tobias was betrothed to a woman named Sarah, yet Sarah had already attempted to marry on seven separate occasions to seven different men, and each one of these potential bridegrooms died on the eve prior to their betrothal to Sarah. Raphael, disguised as a man, accompanied Tobias into Media, and taught Tobias exactly what to do in order to not become a victim of the evil spirit that had been killing off all of Sarah’s previous suitors. Thus, Tobias was able to safely enter into marriage with Sarah, and both Tobias and Sarah’s parents credited Raphael for this joyous union and for casting out the demon that had been preventing Sarah from getting married.
Thus, Raphael is invoked as the patron of Catholic singles seeking a mate, travelers, nurses, physicians, the blind, and the persons suffering from various illnesses of body, mind or spirit.