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A Celebration of Angels. Archangels Michael, Gabriel ; The Taxiarchai Feast Day 8 November


Archangel Michael Overthrows the Rebel Angel circa 1660-1665 Luca Giordano
Archangel Michael Overthrows the Rebel Angel
 circa 1660-1665 Luca Giordano

In Heaven, as on Earth, things didn’t inevitably run smoothly.

There’s invariably that one entity, who considers himself superior to others, so it was with Lucifer.

Lucifer was originally created by God, as the perfect being, wise and righteous, so “why”, thought Lucifer, puffed up with pride, “should I not be God?”

(Lucifer, Satan and the Devil, are sometimes depicted as one and the same.)

Gathering the other angels around him, Lucifer managed to persuade a third of them, to join him in battle, against God, for the great throne of Heaven.


The Fall of the Rebellious Angels ( deatil).  Frans Floris. Flemish Northern Renaissance Painter (1516-1570)
The Fall of the Rebellious Angels (detail).
 Frans Floris. Flemish Northern Renaissance Painter (1516-1570)

Lucifer lost the war; God remained in power, and banished Lucifer and his followers from Heaven, causing them to fall to Earth, where they became the fallen angels, the seven princes of Hell.


Hieronymus Bosch -The Fall of the Rebel Angels
Hieronymus Bosch -The Fall of the Rebel Angels

Each fallen angel, now a prince of Hell, is said to have been allotted one of the seven deadly sins, and they now roam Earth, doing their best to lead people astray.


Deadly Sins - by Valerie Meijer
Deadly Sins - by Valerie Meijer

To counter attack the Seven princes of Hell, the seven archangels, are said to have each been allotted one of the seven heavenly virtues.

I’m not aware that the church, and certainly not the Greek Orthodox Church, recognizes the allotting of sins and virtues, to these two diverse groups, but, it’s a fascinating idea, and, as Roald Dahl wrote, in his last children’s story, “The Minipins”;

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”

The Mouth of Hell, from the illuminated book of hours belonging to Catherine of Cleves
Leviathan
The Mouth of Hell, from the illuminated book of hours belonging to Catherine of Cleves

The seven princes of Hell

1 Lucifer

Lucifer, in Latin, bearer of light, the name given to the morning star, Venus, when seen at dawn, was allotted the sin of pride.

2 Mammon

Mammon, is portrayed as a beggar; he was allotted the sin of Greed.

3 Asmodeus

Asmodeus, portrayed as a prostitute, male or female, who walks with a limp, not having human legs, but claws, he was allotted the sin of lust.

4 Leviathan

Leviathan is portrayed as a sea monster, with a huge mouth, known as the Hellmouth, the gateway to Hell; he was allotted the sin of envy.

5 Beelzebub

Beelzebub is portrayed as a fly, in fact, he is lord of the flies, he was allotted the sin of gluttony.

6 Satan (Interchangeable with Lucifer)

Little is known of Satan; maybe because he and Lucifer are one, the same fallen angel, he was allotted the sin of wrath.

7 Belphegor

Belphegor is portrayed as ether a beautiful woman, or, as a troll, who tempts people with laziness; he is allotted the sin of sloth.

God may have thrown these little devils out of Heaven, but he still had his eye on them, and wasn’t about to let them have the upper hand, and so ordered his ranks of angels, to help keep peace on Earth, by continuing with the battle between good and evil.

As most Orthodox Greeks believe, to keep them safe from harm, and on the straight and narrow, you receive a guardian angel when you are baptized.


Bernhard Plockhorst depicts a guardian angel watching over two children
Bernhard Plockhorst depicts a guardian angel watching over two children

The word angel, in Greek, means messenger, and archangel is derived from the Greek ( ἀρχάγγελος) arch+ angel, literally chief angel, the eldest, and the first archangel, being Michael.

Archangel Michael “reaching to save souls in purgatory” by Jacopo Vignali, 17th century
Archangel Michael “Reaching to save souls in purgatory”
by Jacopo Vignali, 17th century

The feast Day of angels, specifically Michael and Gabriel, (Taxiarchai), in The Greek Orthodox Church is the eighth of November, (Also the celebration day of The Greek Air force, the wing connection?).
Saint Michael is the Patron Saint of the Aegean and the Dodecanese Islands.


The Annunciatory Angel ( detail of Fra Angelico’s The Annunciation)
The Annunciatory Angel ( detail of Fra Angelico’s The Annunciation)

Archangel Raphael It is God Who    Heals depicted here by Titian. He is mentioned in the Book of Enoch and the Apocryphal Book of Tobit.
Archangel Raphael "It is God Who  heals"
 Depicted here by Titian. He is mentioned in the Book of Enoch and the Apocryphal Book of Tobit

 The idea of Gabriel blowing a trumpet blast to indicate the Lord's return to Earth is quite well-known, though the Bible mentions a trumpet blast preceding the resurrection of the dead, it never specifies Gabriel as the trumpeter. 
The seven archangels are the first angels to exist, the earliest reference to a system of seven archangels as a group, appears to be in Enoch I (the Book of Enoch), they are highly regarded in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches of the Byzantine tradition, worship seven archangels and sometimes an eighth.


The Seven Archangels
The Seven Archangels
In art they are often shown as having larger wings than other angels

In the late 5th to early 6th century, Pseudo Dionysius (Christian theologian and philosopher) 
 gives the seven archangels the names;

 Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Camael, Jophiel and Zadkiel.

The earliest Christian mention of their names, is by Pope Saint Gregory I, who lists them as;

 Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, Uriel (or Anael), Simiel, Oriphiel and Raguel.

 Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel, are the four most important archangels, it is believed that
 these four archangels, reside at the four corners of The Great Throne of God.


The first four archangels - Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel - are the ones that stand in the four corners of The Great Throne. The North, to the South, to the East and to the West.
The first four archangels - Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel - are the ones that stand in the four corners of The Great Throne. The North, to the South, to the East and to the West.

All angels, (known as bodiless powers of Heaven), are divided into nine orders, known as
 angelic choirs.

The Assumption of the Virgin by Francesco Botticini at the National Gallery London, shows three hierarchies and nine orders of angels, each with different characteristics.
The Assumption of the Virgin by Francesco Botticini at the National Gallery London, shows three hierarchies and nine orders of angels, each with different characteristics.

Cherubim have four faces: one of a man, an ox, a lion, and an eagle

Cherubim have four faces: one of a man, an ox, a lion, and an eagle (later adopted as the symbols of the four evangelists).They have four conjoined wings covered with eyes, a lion's body, and the feet of oxen. Cherubim guard the way to the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. 

First Hierarchy:

Seraphim

Closest to God

Cherubim

Full of wisdom and understanding

Thrones

Where God resides

Second Hierarchy:

Powers

Power over the devil

Dominions

Dominate the rest of the angels

Principalities

Direct power over angels

Third Hierarchy:

Virtues

Work miracles

Archangels

  Bearers of good news

Angels

       These are the lowest angels in rank, but, those closest to man.

As I mentioned above, the seven princes of darkness were said to have each been allotted one of the seven deadly sins, likewise, the seven archangels are said to have each been allotted one of the seven heavenly virtues, the antidote, so to speak, of the seven deadly sins.

Synaxis of the Bodiless Powers, with the names of the seven Archangels inscribed, together with a seraphim (in red) and two cherubim (dark blue), and Christ in the center
Synaxis of the Bodiless Powers, with the names of the seven Archangels inscribed, together with a seraphim (in red) and two cherubim (dark blue), and Christ in the center


The seven archangels

1 Michael

Michael is the most celebrated of angels, whose name means “God-like” or “Who is like God?”.

 He first appears in the Old Testament, in the book of Joshua.

Michael is chief archangel, “The Commander”, protector of the innocent, said to answer more prayers than any other Saint.


Archangel Michael is Patron Saint of
  The Catholic Church, Guardian of Vatican City, protector of the Jewish people,
  police officers, military, grocers, mariners, paratroopers, sickness, Germany, France, Brussels, Ukraine, Kiev, Philippines and Cebu.
He is often depicted treading on a dragon; carrying a banner, scales, and sword.
 In Christian art, Archangel Michael may be depicted alone or with other angels such as Gabriel. 
He is allotted the heavenly virtue, charity. (To combat Greed)

2 Gabriel

Gabriel is the messenger of God, who guides souls to the gates of Heaven, and along the path to a good life.

 He is especially known for announcing to The Virgin Mary, that she would give birth to Christ.

The name Gabriel, comes from the Hebrew, meaning “Man of God”
Archangel Gabriel, is Patron Saint of Telecommunication Workers, Radio Broadcasters, Messengers, Postal Workers, Clerics, Diplomats, Stamp Collectors, ambassadors, Portugal, Santander and Cebu.
 He is usually depicted clothed in blue or white garments; carrying a lily, a trumpet, a shining lantern, a branch from Paradise, a scroll and a scepter.

 He is allotted the heavenly virtue, diligence. (To combat sloth)

3 Raphael

The role of Raphael is  providing healing for the Earth and its people.


Raphael is Patron Saint of apothecaries, blind people, shepherds, sick people, travelers and young people.
He is also often depicted holding or standing on a fish, which alludes to his healing of Tobias with the fish's gall.

 His name comes from the Hebrew, meaning “It is God who has healed”

Raphael is the protector of weddings and conjugal love, he is

allotted the heavenly virtue, humility. (To combat Pride)

4 Uriel

Uriel is the light of God, he is
allotted the heavenly virtue, chastity. (To combat lust)

5 Selaphiel

 The patron of prayer, depicted on icons with eyes gazing downward, and hands crossed on his chest, with an air of humility and deep inner concentration.

Selaphiel is allotted the heavenly virtue, temperance. (To combat gluttony)

6 Jegudiel

Jegudiel is the defender and helper of all those who toil, he is
allotted the heavenly virtue of kindness (To combat envy)

7 Barachiel

Barachiel is the angel of God’s blessings; he is allotted the heavenly virtue of patience. (To combat wrath)

And so the battle between good and evil continues, angels, God’s messengers, intermediaries between Heaven and Earth, guarding humans against the corrupt princes of Hell.

How long will the battle endure, and who will prevail?

Well:

"Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die."
 Alfred Lord Tennyson

One of the most acclaimed books regarding God, fallen angels, and Satan, is the classic "Paradise Lost" an epic poem by John Milton, who has Gabriel, chief of the angelic guards, placed over Paradise, and, Michael, commanding the army of angels loyal to God, against the rebel forces of Satan. 

Found on Amazon:

A Dictionary of Angels Gustav Davidson
A Dictionary of Angels
Gustav Davidson
A Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels

More posts about Saints of The Greek Orthodox Church:

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