Feast of the Guardian Angels
|Feast of the Guardian Angels|
Ángel de la Guarda
|Observed by||Catholic Church|
|Next time||2 October 2015|
The Feast of the Guardian Angels is a feast of the Catholic Church officially observed on 2 October. In some places, the feast is observed on the first Sunday in September with the permission of the Vatican. Catholics set up altars in honor of guardian angels as early as the 4th Century, and local celebrations of a feast in honor of guardian angels go back to the 11th Century. The feast is also observed by some Anglo-Catholics within the Anglican Communion and most churches of the Continuing Anglican movement.
Devotion to the angels is an ancient tradition which the Christian Church inherited from Judaism. It began to develop with the birth of the monastic tradition. The feast was first kept by the Franciscan order in 1500. This feast, like many others, was local before it was placed in the General Roman Calendar in 1607 by Pope Paul V. The papal decree establishing the feast was cosigned by Robert Bellarmine, which has led some scholars to speculate that the feast was created under the influence of the Society of Jesus. It was originally ranked as a double, and is believed that the new feast was intended to be a kind of supplement to the Feast of St. Michael, since the Church honoured on that day (29 September) the memory of all the angels as well as the memory of St. Michael. Clement X elevated it to the rank of an obligatory double, and, finally, Leo XIII raised the feast to the rank of a double major. Since 1976, it has been ranked an obligatory memorial.
On October 2, 1795, Pius VI granted a partial indulgence for making the Devotions to our Guardian Angels and Patron Saints, as well as a plenary indulgence on the actual feast day to those who make the devotion twice a day for an entire year. The Devotion reads: "O Angel of God, to whose holy care I am committed by the supernal clemency, enlighten, protect, defend, and govern me. Amen."
John XXIII wrote a Meditation for the Feast of the Guardian Angels, which reads, in part: "We must remember how admirable was the intention of divine Providence in entrusting to the angels the mission of watching over all mankind, and over individual human beings, lest they should fall victims to the grave dangers which they encounter."
In the Liturgy of the Hours for this feast day, the Office of Readings includes a portion of a sermon on guardian angels by St. Bernard of Clairvaux:"'He has given his angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways'. These words should fill you with respect, inspire devotion and instill confidence; respect for the presence of angels, devotion because of their loving service, and confidence because of their protection.
The Feast of the Guardian Angels was of seminal importance to Josemaría Escrivá, who considered himself to have been inspired by God to found Opus Dei on October 2, 1928. The significance of the day of his inspiration was evident to Escrivá, who believed that it was a sign that the work of the order would be carried out under the protection of angels.
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