Throughout the Old and New Testament, only three divine messengers are given proper names: the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

“Angels are spiritual creatures who glorify God without ceasing and who serve his saving plans for other creatures: ‘The angels work together for the benefit of us all'”- Catechism of the Catholic Church 350

God reveals to us in Sacred Scripture the names of only three angels out of many, and we are not intended to seek out the names of others. Throughout the Bible, we see many times humans rebuffed when asking for the name of an angel.

“Then Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, that we may honor you when your words come true?” The angel of the LORD answered him: Why do you ask my name? It is wondrous.” – Judges 13:18

The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy states in regards to the matter:

“Popular devotion to the holy angels, which is legitimate and good, can, however, also give rise to possible deviations such as the practice of assigning names to the holy angels which should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael whose names are contained in holy Scripture” – § 217

What then do the three names of the Archangels God has chosen to reveal to us mean?

Archangel Michael

The name Michael comes from the Hebrew Mîkhā’ēl, literally meaning “Who is like God?” – a rhetorical question, implying no one is like God. Michael is referenced only five times in the Bible, and is traditionally ascribed the title defender of the Church – he is the leader of God’s armies in Heaven’s war against Satan given four offices:

1. To fight against Satan.
2. To rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy, especially at the hour of death.
3. To be the champion of God’s people, the Jews in the Old Law, the Christians in the New Testament
4. To call away from earth and bring men’s souls to judgment

The prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel was composed by Pope Leo XIII after a prophetic vision in which he saw Satan boast he could destroy the Church in 100 years.

Archangel Gabriel

The name Gabriel comes from the Hebrew Gavri’el, literally meaning “God is my strength.” Gabriel is referenced only four times in the Bible: to announce the birth of John the Baptist and at the Incarnation of the Word in the womb of Mary.

“Only Gabriel, a name that means ‘Power of God,’ was found worthy among all the angels to announce to Mary the designs of God with regard to her.” – Saint Bernard

Pious Catholic tradition believes he appeared to Saint Joseph and to the shepherds, and also that he “strengthened” Jesus during his agony in the garden of Gethsemane.

Archangel Raphael

The name Raphael comes from the Hebrew Rāfāʾēl, literally meaning “It is God who heals.” Archangel Raphael first appears in the Book of Tobit, where he declares he was sent to heal Tobit and his wife – the origin of his attribution with healing.

“I was sent to put you to the test. At the same time, however, God sent me to heal you and your daughter-in-law Sarah.” – Tobit 12:14

While not mentioned in the New Testament, during the second century in the West and among the Greek Fathers in the fourth century, an additional verse was known to John 5 that referenced an Angel coming to the Pool of Bethesda, traditionally known to be Raphael.

“For [from time to time] an angel of the Lord used to come down into the pool; and the water was stirred up, so the first one to get in [after the stirring of the water] was healed of whatever disease afflicted him.”

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2 COMMENTS

  1. This is a fun article. How do you know Father Pagano? It’s so exciting you included him in a podcast! I couldn’t help but notice the ads on your site! He says Mass right by my house here in Jacksonville. Duuuuuuuuuuuuvaaaaaaaaaaaaaal!

  2. Acts of the Apostles 17:4 And some of them were persuaded, and joined Paul and Silas; as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. 5 But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked fellows of the rabble, they gathered a crowd, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the people. 6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brethren before the city authorities, crying, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 and Jason has received them; and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” 8 And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard this.
    Saint Michael the Archangel, who is like God, pray for us.
    Saint Gabriel the Archangel, the power of God, pray for us.
    Saint Raphael the Archangel, it is God who heals, pray for us.
    Help all laity pray for conversions in/to the priesthood, protect good holy priests from those who have abandoned the Blessed Sacrament in perpetual adoration and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Protect and guide seminarians who humbly want to serve Our Lord. Heal the young who’ve been wounded by the Church, and the old who’ve been perverted by attachment to secular comforts. Restore faith, hope, charity, humility, simplicity to the proper order and supernatural belief in the Most Holy Trinity and our understanding of personal sin. Help each of us strive for holiness and be joyful witnesses to God’s grace through Mary and the Eucharist. Amen.

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