Michael The Archangel

An archangel mentioned in four passages of Scripture (Dan. 10:13-21; 12:1; Jude 9; Rev. 12:7) and perhaps alluded to elsewhere (e.g., Acts 7:38). In Daniel, Michael is “the great prince” responsible for the guardianship of God's people Israel; in Revelation he leads the angelic host in the struggle against the dragon (Satan) and his angels. The brief passage in Jude also depicts Michael as in conflict with Satan, but on this occasion over the body of Moses; the allusion is thought to be from a work no longer extant, The Assumption of Moses. The OT Pseudepigrapha attribute a major role to Michael (so especially Enoch and the Ascension of Isaiah); here he is given the additional functions of recording angel and intermediary at the giving of the Law at Sinai.

In the course of Christian history, Michael came to be revered as the guardian of Christian armies in their battles with the heathen, and as the conductor of individual Christian souls to God at death (on the basis of the Daniel and Jude passages respectively). In Phrygia he came to be revered as a healer too, a cult which spread widely through Christendom. A fifth-century legend further credited him with an appearance on Mt. Gargano in Apulia, whence a feast of the “Appearing of St. Michael” came into being. He was canonized. In Christian art Michael has usually been depicted in battle with, or victory over, the dragon (cf. Rev. 12:7).

For bibliography see under Angel.