The Three Archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael

Today is the Feast Day of these three Archangels. There is an interesting legend about St. Michael on the web:

On Monte Gargano resides the most famous shrine of the Christian Latin West dedicated to St Michael the Archangel. The genesis of the shrine can be retraced back to the fifth and the beginning of the sixth century. Old documents provide ample evidence to this. For instance, a letter sent by Pope Gelasio I in 493- 494 to Giusto, the Bishop of Piacenza, another letter by the same Holy Father together with a note which bears the date of September 29 as recorded by the martyrologer Geronimiano, all three documents mention the shrine. Most of all, the eighth century work, Liber de apparitione sancti Michaelis in Monte Gargano, specifically recounts the miraculous events which initiated the cult of the Archangel Michael on the Gargano.

The well-known episodes of the bull and the dedication highlight the undoubted fact that the sacred grotto is a celestial basilica. This is so since it was not consecrated by human hand but by the Archangel himself. One day a rich lord of Siponto, Elvio Emanuele was pasturing his herd when his most beautiful bull vanished. After much search it was found on the mountain top kneeling down at the cave’s entrance.

Elvio was so infuriated at this event that he shot an arrow at the incorrigible bull. Strangely enough instead of hitting his intended target he wounded his own foot. Shocked by what had happened to him Elvio reported the event to the bishop who ordered three days of prayer and penance. At the termination of the third day, Michael the Archangel appeared to him and told him: “I am the Archangel Michael, and am always in the presence of God. The cave is sacred for me, I have chosen it; I myself am its watchful custodian … There where the rock opens wide the sins of men can be forgiven … What is asked for here will be granted. Therefore, go to the mountain and dedicate the grotto to the Christian religion”. The story concludes that the bishop was reluctant to carry out the Archangel’s wish since the mountain was too high to reach and also that in the past it had been a place of pagan cults.

When the people of Siponto defeated their enemies who besieged their town for three days, thanks to the help of the Archangel, the bishop wanted to obey the Celestial Protector’s words by consecrating the grotto to him as a sign of gratitude. But St Michael appeared to him and told him that he himself had already consecrated the grotto.

Consequently, the grotto itself is the only worship place which is not consecrated by men but by a direct divine intervention.

Among the illustrious pilgrims which visited this celestial basilica of St Michael one finds Popes like Gelasio I, St Celestino V, Cardinal Angelo Roncalli and John Paul II; sovereigns such as Ludovico II, Ottone III, Alfonso of Aragona, Vittorio Emanuele III and Umerto of Savoia; as well as saints like Francis of Assisi, Brigid of Sweden, Alfonso de Liguori and Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. (From Times of Malta, by Fr. Mario Attard OFM Cap, San Ġwann)

Grotto where the Archangel Michael is said to have appeared in 490, 492 and 1656. Shrine of St. Michael the Archangel, Monte Sant'Angelo, Puglia, Italy. © Sacred Destinations

Today, Catholic News Agency published a good article about these three Archangels, which can be read below: (From CNS)

The three Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are the only angels named in Sacred Scripture and all three have important roles in the history of salvation.

Saint Michael is the “Prince of the Heavenly Host,” the leader of all the angels. His name is Hebrew for “Who is like God?” and was the battle cry of the good angels against Lucifer and his followers when they rebelled against God. He is mentioned four times in the Bible, in Daniel 10 and 12, in the letter of Jude, and in Revelation.

Michael, whose forces cast down Lucifer and the evil spirits into Hell, is invoked for protection against Satan and all evil. Pope Leo XIII, in 1899, having had a prophetic vision of the evil that would be inflicted upon the Church and the world in the 20th century, instituted a prayer asking for Saint Michael’s protection to be said at the end of every Mass.

Christian tradition recognizes four offices of Saint Michael: (i) to fight against Satan (ii) to rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy, especially at the hour of death. (iii) to be the champion of God’s people, (iv) to call away from earth and bring men’s souls to judgment.

“I am Gabriel, who stand before God.” (Luke 1, 19)

Saint Gabriel, whose name means “God’s strength,” is mentioned four times in the Bible. Most significant are Gabriel’s two mentions in the New Testament: to announce the birth of John the Baptist to his father Zacharias, and the at Incarnation of the Word in the womb of Mary.

Christian tradition suggests that it is he who appeared to St. Joseph and to the shepherds, and also that it was he who “strengthened” Jesus during his agony in the garden of Gethsemane.

“I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” (Tob 12:15)

Saint Raphael, whose name means “God has healed” because of his healing of Tobias’ blindness in the Book of Tobit.  Tobit is the only book in which he is mentioned. His office is generally accepted by tradition to be that of healing and acts of mercy.

Raphael is also identified with the angel in John 5:1-4 who descended upon the pond and bestowed healing powers upon it so that the first to enter it after it moved would be healed of whatever infirmity he was suffering.

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