Who Is Michael?
Michael is one of the most important individuals in heaven and several religious, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. He is an archangel and has been called the Chief of the angels. In the Bible, Michael is called the commander of the Lord’s army of angels in heaven. In most religions, there is more than one archangel.
The name Michael means “He who is like God” and his purpose matches this description. His chief function is to keep the earth and its inhabitants pure and without fear. He gives direction and guidance for those who are in need. He is the Defender of the Element of Fire and the South. As the leader of the archangels, he is responsible for maintaining protection, justice, and strength.
Angels were created by God and are meant to serve as messengers of his word. In the Bible, the text reveals that God created nine orders of angels. These include Thrones, Powers, Angels, Seraphim, Cherubim, Dominations, Principalities, Virtues, and Archangels. Michael is the most well-known of the archangels but there are others, including Gabriel, Uriel, Sariel, Raphael, Raguel, and the fallen Lucifer. Many are surprised to learn that Lucifer was an archangel but this proves that all types of angels, Michael included, have free will. This proves as testament to Michael’s commitment to his duties as the Chief of the angels.
Legends and Stories
There are many stories of Michael from the public who say that he visited them in their time of need. He is also mentioned several times in the Bible. Here are some of the most captivating stories surrounding the archangel.
Abraham and Isaac
In the Old Testament, a story of faith features Michael. God told Abraham, father of Isaac, that he must sacrifice him as a burnt offering in the region of Moriah. There was no room for negotiation. This was God’s will.
Abraham listened. He took his son, two servants, and a donkey and began on the journey to Moriah. When they finally arrived, Abraham asked the servants to wait with the donkey while he and his son traveled up the mountain. The servants did not know what Abraham had been asked and thought they were heading up the mountain to worship for alone.
Abraham told Isaac that they were performing a sacrifice. Isaac asked where the lamb was for the sacrifice. Abraham wasn’t sure what to say at first but then told him that God would provide the lamb. When they reached the area where the sacrifice was to take place, Abraham became incredibly sad. He couldn’t believe what God was asking but he knew he had to go through with the sacrifice. He bound his son with ropes and placed him on the alter.
Abraham raised a knife and just before he brought it down on Isaac, an angel called out to him and told him not to harm his son. The angel said that he knew Abraham was faithful because of his actions. Abraham then heard a disturbance in the greenery nearby and saw a ram caught by its horns. He sacrificed the animal instead of his son.
The angel was Michael and he told Abraham that he would be blessed and that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the beaches.
Sightings of Michael
There is a celebration called the Miracle at Chonae in the Orthodox Church. It is based on an event where Saint John the Apostle predicted the appearance of Michael near Lake Salda. Soon after the Apostle left, a healing spring appeared. A pilgrim built a church in the area but the locals were jealous of the healing power of the spring. They attempted to flood the church by rerouting the river but Michael split open bedrock to open a new bed for the stream, saving the church.
In another story, Michael appeared to fishermen in Cornwall, UK during the 5th century. During the same time period, Michael is said to have appeared on a secluded cave on Monte Gargano in Italy. There was a feast to celebrate Michael because of this appearance until Pope John XXIII removed it from the calendar.
Another story says that Michael appeared to the Bishop of Avranches, St. Aubert, in the year 708. He instructed him to build a church in an area now known as Mont Saint-Michel.
A Portuguese Carmelite nun reported an apparition of Michael in 1751. He told her that he would like to be honored by the praying of nine invocations that correspond to the nine choirs of angels. These prayers were approved by Pope Pius IX in 1851.
A more recent story about Michael took place from 1961-1965, where four young school aged girls reported several apparitions of Michael in Garabandal, a small village in Spain. The Catholic Church has never confirmed these sightings but they also haven’t denied them.
Angels, including archangels, do not have traditional families. They are all considered to be a family sort of unit under God. They also do not have parents, as they were created in God’s image.
There are few descriptions of angels but there are a few verses in the Bible that help to give an idea of what they may look like. According to Biblical descriptions, angels appear to be a-sexual. But many other descriptions tend to point towards them being more masculine than feminine. Specifically, Michael has been described as handsome and young but not with the wings that so many associate with angels, even though artistic representations typically show him with large, outspread wings.
Michael can be associated with many symbols related to angels, including halos and wings. But Michael specifically is associated with a crescent moon that has a small star above it. He is also associated with a circle with a dot in the middle, several visual depictions of the sun, and the Hebrew letter Resh.