Seven Archangels

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Synaxis of the Archangel Michael (Собор Архистратига Михаила). An Eastern Orthodox Church icon of the "Seven Archangels." From left to right: Jegudiel, Gabriel (גַּבְרִיאֵל), Selaphiel, Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Barachiel. Beneath the mandorla of Christ Emmanuel are representations of Cherubim (in blue) and Seraphim (in red).

The concept of Seven Archangels is found in some works of early Jewish literature and in Christianity.[1] In those texts, they are referenced as the angels who serve God directly.

The Catholic Church venerates seven archangels: in Latin Christianity three are invoked by name (Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael) while the Eastern Catholic Churches name seven. Lutheranism and Anglicanism's traditions generally recognize three to five archangels: Michael and Gabriel, as well as Raphael, Uriel and Jerahmeel.

In parts of Oriental Orthodox Christianity and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Eight Archangels may be honoured, including Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, as well as Salathiel, Jegudiel, Barachiel, and Jeremiel (in the Coptic tradition the latter four are named as Surael, Sakakael, Sarathael, and Ananael).[1] The Eight Archangels are commemorated on the Feast of the Archangels.[2]


The term archangel itself is not found in the Hebrew Bible or the Christian Old Testament, and in the Greek New Testament the term archangel only occurs in 1 Thessalonians 4 (1 Thessalonians 4:16) and the Epistle of Jude (Jude 1:9), where it is used of Michael, who in Daniel 10 (Daniel 10:12) is called 'one of the chief princes,' and 'the great prince'. In the Septuagint, this is rendered "the great angel."[3]

The idea of seven archangels is most explicitly stated in the deuterocanonical/apocryphal Book of Tobit when Raphael reveals himself, declaring: "I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand in the glorious presence of the Lord, ready to serve him." (Tobit 12,15) The other two angels mentioned by name in the Bibles used by Catholics and Protestants are the archangel Michael and the angel Gabriel; Uriel is named in 2 Esdras (4:1 and 5:20) and Jerahmeel is named in 2 Esdras 4:36, a book that is regarded as canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Georgian and Russian Orthodox Churches,[4] and falls within the Apocrypha section of the Protestant Bible used by Lutherans and Anglicans. The names of other archangels come from tradition.

Zechariah 4,10 tells about "seven rejoices" that are "the eyes of the Lord, Which scan to and from throughout the whole earth."[5] Revelation 8 (Revelation 8:2) mentions seven angels (Ancient Greek: ἀγγέλους[6]) who "stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets." Similarly, Revelation 16 (Revelation 16:1) indicates: "and I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels (Ancient Greek: ἑπτὰ ἀγγέλοις[7]): Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God into the earth." Lastly, Revelation 4 and Revelation 5 (Revelation 4:5) mention "seven Spirits" (Ancient Greek: Πνεύματα , ta hepta Pneumata, with the capital letter[8]) – whose identity is not well specified – who are the "seven lamps of fire [that] were burning before the throne".[5]

1 Enoch[edit]

One such tradition of archangels comes from the Old Testament biblical apocrypha, the third century BCE Book of the Watchers,[9] known as 1 Enoch or the Book of Enoch, eventually merged into the Enochic Pentateuch.[10][11] This narrative is affiliated with the Book of Giants, which also references the great archangels[12][13] and was made part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church's scriptural canon. Although prevalent in Jewish and early Christian apostolic traditions and the early Christian Fathers, the Book of Enoch gradually fell from academic and religious status, and by the seventh century was rejected from the canonical scriptures of all other Christian denominations. The various surviving oral traditions recount many differing lists of archangels.[citation needed]

The names entered Jewish tradition during the Babylonian captivity (605 BCE). Babylonian folklore and cosmology,[14] and early Mesopotamian beliefs under the dualistic influence of Zoroastrianism, centered around anthropomorphic and zoomorphic representations of stars, planets, and constellations, including the four sons of the Sky Father carrying the Winged Sun, the throne of Wisdom. First the prophet Daniel, then authors such as Ezekiel hebraized this mythology, equating the Babylonian constellations with abstract forms held to be "sons of the gods", angels of the Lord of Israel, and heavenly animal cherubim. The 2 BC Book of the Parables (Ch XL) names the four angels accompanying the Ancient of Days, standing before the Lord of Spirits, "the voices of those upon the four sides magnifying the Lord of Glory": Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, and Phanuel.

The Book of the Watchers (Ch IX) lists the angels who in antediluvian times interceded on behalf of mankind against the rogue spirits termed "the Watchers": Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel.

Christian traditions[edit]

Seven Archangels depicted in the stained glass window at St Michael's Church, Brighton. From left: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Chamuel (Camael), Raphael, Jophiel, and Zadkiel.

The earliest specific Christian references are in the late 5th to early 6th century: Pseudo-Dionysius gives them as Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Camael, Jophiel, and Zadkiel.[15] In Western Christian traditions, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are referred to as archangels.[16] Through its Byzantine tradition, however, the Catholic Church recognizes seven archangels altogether, sometimes named, sometimes unnamed other than the three mentioned above. The most mainstream Muslim view affirms Michael and Gabriel.

Lists of characters referred to as "angels" also exist in smaller religious traditions usually regarded as occultist or superstitious. A reference to seven archangels appeared in an 8th- or 9th-century talisman attributed to Auriolus, a "servant of God" in north-western Spain. He issues a prayer to "all you patriarchs Michael, Gabriel, Cecitiel, Uriel, Raphael, Ananiel, Marmoniel.[17]

Archangels in current church traditions[edit]

The four archangels in Anglican tradition, from left to right: Gabriel, Michael, Uriel, and Raphael. Stained glass window at Hull Minster.
The Archangel Jeremiel holding a book, depicted in a stained-glass window at St Michael and All Angels Anglican Church, Hughenden

In the Catholic Church, three archangels are mentioned by name in its Biblical canon: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Raphael appears in the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit, where he is described as "one of the seven angels who stand ready and enter before the glory of the lord of spirits",[18] a phrase recalled in Revelation 8:2–6. Three Popes rejected to authorize veneration of the purported names of the Seven Archangels within the Roman Catholic Church: Pope Leo XII (1826–1828),[19] Pope Pius VIII (1830) and Pope Gregory XVI (1831–1832).[20] The Directory on popular piety and the Liturgy (2001) at n. 217 states that "the practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the case of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture."[21]

Some Eastern Orthodox Churches, exemplified in the Orthodox Slavonic Bible (Ostrog Bible, Elizabeth Bible, and later consequently Russian Synodal Bible), recognize as authoritative also 2 Esdras, which mentions Uriel and Jerahmeel. 2 Esdras is contained in the Apocrypha section of the Bible in both the Lutheran Churches and the Anglican Communion, which is the reason that Lutherans and Anglicans often name a fourth archangel, Uriel, as well as a fifth archangel Jerahmeel, in addition to Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.[22][23]

The Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches of the Byzantine tradition venerate seven to eight archangels.[1] Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Selaphiel (Salathiel), Jegudiel (Jehudiel), Barachiel, and the eighth, Jerahmeel (Jeremiel) (The Synaxis of the Chief of the Heavenly Hosts, Archangel Michael and the Other Heavenly Bodiless Powers: Feast Day: November 8).[24]

As well as Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel, the Book of Enoch, regarded as canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, mentions (in chapter 20) Raguel, Saraqâêl, and Remiel;[25] however, apocryphal sources give instead the names Izidkiel, Hanael, and Kepharel.[26] Within the Oriental Orthodox Christian denominations, the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition names seven Archangels as Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Phanuel, and Remiel;[27] in the Coptic Orthodox tradition the seven to eight archangels are named as Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Suriel, Zadkiel, Sarathiel, and Ananiel,[28][29][30] as well as often Sakakael.[1]

In the Lutheran, as well as the Anglican and Episcopal traditions, there are three to five archangels in the calendar for September 29, the feast of St Michael and All Angels (also called Michaelmas), namely Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael,[16][31] and often also Uriel and Jerahmeel.[22][32][33][34][35][36]

Other traditions[edit]

Other names derived from pseudepigrapha are Selaphiel, Jegudiel, and Raguel.

In Ismailism, there are seven cherubim, comparable to the Seven Archangels ordered to bow down before Qadar, of whom Iblis refuses.[37]

In Yazidism, there are seven archangels, named Jabra'il, Mika'il, Rafa'il (Israfil), Dadra'il, Azrail, Shamkil (Shemna'il), and Azazil, who are emanations from God entrusted with care of the creation.[38]

Various occult systems associate each archangel with one of the traditional "seven luminaries" (classical planets visible to the naked eye): the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn;[39] but there is disagreement as to which archangel corresponds to which body.

According to Rudolf Steiner, four archangels govern the seasons: spring is Raphael, summer is Uriel, autumn is Michael, and winter is Gabriel.[40]

According to occultist Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, the Seven Archangels were a form of syncretism between different religions: they were the Chaldeans great gods, the Seven Sabian Gods, the seven Hinduist Manus and Seven Rashi, as well as the Seven Seats (Thrones) and Virtues of the Kabbalists.[41]

In the early Gnostic text On the Origin of the World, the aeon named Sophia sends seven archangels to rescue the Archon Sabaoth and bring him to the eighth heaven.[42]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Parry, Ken; Melling, David J.; Brady, Dimitri; Griffith, Sidney H.; Healey, John F. (8 November 2000). The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity. John Wiley & Sons. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-631-18966-4.
  2. ^ Macedonian Review. Vol. 24–25. Kulturen Zhivot. 1994. p. 194. It is worth mentioning that St Michael's Day (21/8 November) is the feast of the seven/eight Archangels and the hosts of Holy Angels, who, as have been mentioned, are numberless
  3. ^ Barker, Margaret (2004). An Extraordinary Gathering of Demons. Publications Limited.
  4. ^ "4 Ezra: A Biblical Book You've Probably Never Read". 26 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b Alvino, Carmine. "I Sette Angeli nel Panorama Cattolico (the Seven Angels in the Catholic Context)". I Sette Arcangeli nel Cattolicesimo [The Seven Archangels in the Catholicism] (PDF) (in Italian). Archived from the original on September 29, 2022 – via
  6. ^ "Revelation 8 NKJV (Greek–English Interlinear Bible)". Biblehub.
  7. ^ "Revelation 16 (Greek–English Interlinear Bible)". Biblehub.
  8. ^ "Revelation 4:5 NKJV (Greek–English Interlinear Bible)". Biblehub.
  9. ^ Nickelsburg, George W. E. (2001). "Chapters 1–36; 81–108". 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch (PDF). Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress. p. 7.
  10. ^ VanderKam, James C. (2008) [1995]. Enoch: A Man for All Generations. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 978-1570037962. See also the author's Enoch and the Growth of an Apocalyptic Tradition (1984), published by the Catholic Biblical Association of America: Washington, DC
  11. ^ Barker, Margaret. (2005) [1987]. "Chapter 1: The Book of Enoch," in The Older Testament: The Survival of Themes from the Ancient Royal Cult in Sectarian Judaism and Early Christianity. London, England: SPCK; Sheffield Phoenix Press.
  12. ^ Barker, Margaret. (2005) [1998]. The Lost Prophet: The Book of Enoch and Its Influence on Christianity. London, England: SPCK; Sheffield Phoenix Press. ISBN 1-905048-18-1.
  13. ^ Nibley, Hugh (1986). Enoch the Prophet. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. ISBN 978-0875790473.
  14. ^ Encyclopedia, Jewish. "ANGELOLOGY – Angelology systematized". Jewish Encyclopedia.
  15. ^ A Dictionary of Angels, Including the Fallen Angels by Gustav Davidson, 1980, Free Press Publishing.
  16. ^ a b Blersch, Jeffrey (21 September 2019). "St. Michael and All Angels". Pacific Hills Lutheran Church. Archived from the original on 1 February 2023. Retrieved 4 May 2023.
  17. ^ Julia M. H. Smith, Europe After Rome: A New Cultural History 500–1000. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2005. p. 77.
  18. ^ Tobit 12:15.
  19. ^ Alvino, Carmine. La prima causa del 1826 innanzi a Leone XII per l'approvazione del culto dei Sette Arcangeli (in Italian). Archived from the original on 2022-09-29.
  20. ^ Alvino, Carmine. La quarta causa del 1831 innanzi a Gregorio XVI per l'approvazione del culto dei Sette Arcangeli (in Italian). Archived from the original on 2022-09-29.
  21. ^ "The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy – Principles and Guidelines". Holy See. 2002.
  22. ^ a b "Truss Carvings: Heroes of the Faith". Trinity Lutheran Church. Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  23. ^ "Who Is the Archangel Uriel?". 11 January 2021. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  24. ^ "Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  25. ^ "First Enoch – Chapter XX / Chapter 20 – Book of 1 Enoch, Parallel 1912 Charles & 1883 Laurence, Pseudepigrapha Online Parallel Bible Study". Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  26. ^ Driscoll, James F. "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. Raphael the Archangel". Retrieved 2023-11-08.
  27. ^ "The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church". Retrieved 2023-01-04.
  28. ^ "2. Intercessors: The Heavenly Orders Doxology: ذوكصولوجية للسمائيين". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  29. ^ Alex, Michael Ghaly. "رؤساء الملائكة الآخرين – كتاب الملائكة –". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  30. ^ Ghlay, Michael. "الملائكة.. ما هم، وما هو عدد وأسماء رؤساء الملائكه؟ –". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  31. ^ "Exciting Holiness: 29 September". Retrieved 2023-11-08.
  32. ^ Saint Uriel Church website patron Saint web page Archived 2015-09-30 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved September 15, 2008.
  33. ^ Lesser Feasts and Fasts, p. 380.
  34. ^ "Michael and All Angels". Retrieved 2023-11-08.
  35. ^ St. George's Lennoxville website, What Are Anglicans, Anyway? page Archived 2008-09-26 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved September 15, 2008.
  36. ^ Christ Church Eureka website, September Feasts page Archived 2008-05-11 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved September 15, 2008.
  37. ^ Ian Richard Netton, Allah Transcendent: Studies in the Structure and Semiotics of Islamic Philosophy, Theology and Cosmology Psychology Press, 1994 ISBN 9780700702879, p. 205.
  38. ^ Adam Valen Levinson, The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah: Fear and Love in the Modern Middle East, W. W. Norton & Company, 2017, ISBN 978-0-393-60837-3.
  39. ^ Pike, Albert. Morals and Dogma (of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry), (1871, 1948, L. H. Jenkins).
  40. ^ Guiley, Rosemary (2004). The Encyclopedia of Angels. Infobase Publishing. p. 45. ISBN 978-1-4381-3002-6.
  41. ^ Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (May 10, 2021). Worship of Planetary Spirits is idolatrous Astrolatry: Divine Astrology is for Initiates; superstitious Astrolatry for the masses. Philaletheians UK. p. 9.
  42. ^ Marvin Meyer; Willis Barnstone (2009). "On the Origin of the World". The Gnostic Bible. Shambhala. Retrieved 2022-02-06.

Further reading[edit]