Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels
With today’s feast day, the Church remembers and honors the greatest of the angels—Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael—for the role they play in salvation history.
The word “angel” comes from the Hebrew word for “messenger.” They are purely spiritual beings that possess intellect and will. Since creation, they appear as messengers of God, announcing God’s saving plan, and helping to achieve it.
In Hebrew, the name Michael means, “Who can compare to God?” Michael appears in Scripture four times—twice in the book of Daniel, once in the letter of Jude, and once in the book of Revelation leading the battle in heaven:
“Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it.” (Rev 12:7-9)
Michael is the prince of the heavenly host of angels, and is invoked by Christians in their fight against temptation and the devil. Michael is also protector of soldiers, and patron of paramedics and police officers. Michael is depicted most prominently on campus above the east door of the Basilica as part of the memorial that honors students who fought and died in World War I. The laundry service on campus is named after St. Michael as well.
Gabriel’s name means, “God is my strength,” and appears three times in Scripture as a messenger: the angel appeared to Daniel to explain a vision, and announced the births of John the Baptist and of Jesus. Gabriel is patron of those who deliver messages for a living, such as diplomats, broadcasters, postal workers, communications and public relations professionals. Gabriel is depicted on campus in several places, including this Basilica window that shows the annunciation.
Raphael’s name means, “God has healed,” and we know of Raphael from the book of Tobit, where the angel travels with the young Tobias as a healer and companion. Tradition holds that Raphael also was the one who stirred the waters at the famous healing pool in Bethesda. Raphael is patron of travelers, and of the sick and of medical personnel. Raphael has also been invoked to protect young people, especially those leaving home for the first time. The angel is depicted on campus in this statue that stands on the exterior of the infirmary, St. Liam Hall.
Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, you announce and effect God’s saving work--pray for us!