Commemorated on November 8
Celebration of the Sobor (Assemblage) of the Leader of the Heavenly Hosts
Michael, and the Other Heavenly Bodiless Hosts was established at the beginning of the IV Century at
the local Laodician Council, which occurred several years before the First
OEcumenical Council. The Laodician Council by its 35th Canon condemned and
renounced as heretical the worship of angels as creators and rulers of the
world and it affirmed their proper Orthodox veneration. A feastday was
established in November the ninth month from March (with which month the
year began in ancient times) in accordance with the 9 Ranks of Angels. The
eighth day of the month was decreed for the intended Sobor (Assemblage) of all
the Heavenly Powers in conjunction with the Day of the Dread Last-Judgement
of God, which the holy fathers called the "Eighth Day", since
after this age in which the seven days [of Creation] have elapsed will come the
"Eighth Day", and then "shalt come the Son of Man in His
Glory and all the holy Angels together with Him" (Mt. 25: 31).
Angelic Ranks are divided into three Hierarchies: highest, middle, and
lowest. In the Highest Hierarchy are included the three Ranks: the Seraphim,
Cherubim and Thrones. Closest of all to the MostHoly Trinity stand the
six-winged Seraphim [Seraphimy] (Flaming, and Fiery) (Is. 6: 12).
They blaze with love for God and impel others to it.
the Seraphim there stand before the Lord the many-eyed Cherubim
[Cheruvimy] (Gen. 3: 24). Their name means: outpouring of wisdom,
enlightenment, since through them, radiating with the light of
Divine-knowledge and understanding of the mysteries of God, there is sent down
wisdom and enlightenment for true Divine-knowledge.
the Cherubim stand God-bearing through grace given them for their service,
the Thrones [Prestoly] (Col. 1: 16), mysteriously and incomprehensibly
upholding God. They serve the uprightness of God's justice.
Middle Angelic Hierarchy consists of three Ranks: Dominions, Powers, and
[Gospodstva] (Col. 1: 16) hold dominion over the successive ranks of Angels.
They instruct the earthly authorities, established from God, to wise
governance. The Dominions influence rule by miracles, they quell sinful
impulses, subordinate the flesh to the spirit, and provide mastery over the
will to conquer temptation.
[Sily] (1 Pet. 3: 22) fulfill the will of God. They work the miracles and send
down the grace of wonderworking and perspicacity to saints pleasing to God. The
Powers give assist to people in bearing obediences, encourage them in patience,
and give them spiritual strength and fortitude.
[Vlasti] (1 Pet. 3: 22, Col. 1: 16) have authority to quell the power of the
devil. They repel from people demonic temptations, uphold ascetics and guard
them, helping people in the struggle with evil ponderings.
the Lowest Hierarchy are included the three Ranks: Principalities, Archangels,
[Nachala] (Col. 1: 16) have command over the lower angels, instructing them in
the fulfilling of Divine commands. To them are entrusted to direct the
universe, and protect lands, nations and peoples. Principalities instruct
people to render honour to everyone, as becomes their station. They teach those
in authority to fulfill their necessary obligations, not for personal glory and
gain, but out of respect for God and benefit for neighbour.
[Arkhangely] (1 Thess. 4: 16) announce about the great and most holy, they
reveal the mysteries of the faith, prophecy and understanding of the will of
God, they intensify deep faith in people, enlightening their minds with the
light of the Holy Gospel.
[Angely] (1 Pet. 3: 22)are closest to all to people. They proclaim the intent
of God, guiding people to virtuous and holy life. They protect believers
restraining them from falling, and they raise up the fallen; never do they
abandon us and always they are prepared to help us, if we so desire.
the Ranks of the Heavenly Powers have in common the name Angels by virtue of
their service. The Lord reveals His will to the highest of the Angels, and they
in turn inform the others.
all the Nine Ranks, the Lord put the Holy Leader
("Archistrategos") Michael (his name in translation from the
Hebrew means "who is like unto God") a faithful servitor of
God, wherein he hurled down from Heaven the arrogantly proud day‑star
Lucifer together with the other fallen spirits. And to the remaining Angelic
powers he cried out: "Let us attend! Let us stand aright before our Creator
and not ponder that which is displeasing unto God!" According to Church
tradition, in the church service to the Archistrategos Michael concerning him,
he participated in many other Old Testament events. During the time of the
Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt he went before them in the form of a pillar
of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Through him the power of the
Lord was made manifest, annihilating the Egyptians and Pharaoh who were in
pursuit of the Israelites. The Archangel Michael defended Israel in all its
appeared to Jesus Son of Navin (Joshua) and revealed the will of the Lord at
the taking of Jericho (Nav. / Josh. 5: 13-16). The power of the great
Archistrategos of God was manifest in the annihilation of the 185 thousand
soldiers of the Assyrian emperor Sennacherib (4  Kings 19: 35); also in the
smiting of the impious leader Antiochos Illiodoros; and in the protecting from
fire of the Three Holy Youths Ananias, Azarias and Misail, thrown into the
fiery furnace for their refusal to worship an idol (Dan. 3: 22‑25).
the will of God, the Archistrategos Michael transported the Prophet Avvakum
(Habbakuk) from Judea to Babylon, so as to give food to Daniel, locked up in a
lions' den (Kondak of Akathist, 8).
Archangel Michael prevented the devil from displaying the body of the holy
Prophet Moses to the Jews for idolisation (Jude 1: 9).
holy Archangel Michael showed his power when he miraculously saved a lad, cast
by robbers into the sea with a stone about his neck at the shores of Athos
ancient times the Archangel Michael was famed by his miracles in Rus'. In the
Volokolamsk Paterikon there is included a narrative of the Monk Paphnutii of
Borovsk with an account of Tatar "baskaki" (tax-gatherers) concerning
the miraculous saving of Novgorod the Great: "And wherefore Great Novgorod
never was taken by the Hagarites... when by the sufferance of God for our sins
the godless Hagarite emperor Batu devoured and set aflame the Russian land and
was come to the New City (i.e. Novgorod) and God and the MostHoly Mother of God
shielded it with an appearance of Michael the Archistrategos, which did forbid
him to enter into it. He [Batu] was come to the Lithuanian city and did come
towards Kiev and did see the stone church over the doors of which the great
Archangel Michael had written and spoken unto the prince his allotted fate: 'By
this we have forbidden entry into Great Novgorod'".
for Russian cities by the MostHoly Queen of Heaven always involved Her
appearances with the Heavenly Hosts, under the leadership of the Archistategos.
Grateful Rus' acclaimed the MostPure Mother of God and the Archangel Michael in
church singing. To the Archistrategos Michael are dedicated many a monastery,
cathedrals, court and merchant churches. In old Kiev at the time of the
accepting of Christianity, there was erected a cathedral of the Archangel, and
a monastery also was built in his name. Archangel cathedrals stand at Smolensk,
Nizhni Novgorod, Staritsa, a monastery at Great Ustiug (beginning XIII
Century), and a cathedral at Sviyazhsk. In Rus' there was not a city, wherein
was not a church or chapel, dedicated to the Archangel Michael. One of the
chief temples of the city of Moscow the burial church in the Kremlin is
dedicated to him. Numerous and beautiful icons of the Chief-in-Rank of the
Highest Powers are also in his Cathedral. One of these the Icon "Blest
Soldiery" written in the Uspenie (Dormition) Cathedral of the Moscow
Kremlin, where the saintly soldiers Russian princes are depicted under
the leadership of the Archistrategos Michael.
Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition are likewise known the Archangels: Gabriel
strength (power) of God, herald and servitor of Divine almightiness
(Dan. 8: 16, Lk. 1: 26); Raphael the healing of God, the
curer of human infirmities (Tobit 3: 16, 12: 15); Uriel the fire or
light of God, enlightener (3 Ezdras 5: 20); Selaphiel the prayer of
God, impelling to prayer (3 Ezdras 5: 16); Jehudiel the glorifying of
God, encouraging exertion for the glory of the Lord and interceding about the
reward of efforts; Barachiel distributor of the blessing of God for
good deeds, entreating the mercy of God for people; Jeremiel the
raising up to God (3 Ezdras 4:36).
icons the Archangels are depicted in accord with the trait of their service:
tramples the devil underfoot, and in his left hand holds a green date-tree
branch, and in his right hand a spear with a white banner (or sometimes a
fiery sword), on which is outlined a scarlet cross.
with a branch from paradise, presented by him to the MostHoly Virgin, or
with a shining lantern in his right hand and with a mirror made of jasper in
holds a vessel with healing medications in his left hand, and with his right
hand leads Tobias, carrying the fish [for healing Tobit 5-8].
in raised right hand hold a bare sword at the level of his chest, and in his
lowered left hand "a fiery flame".
in a prayerful posture, gazing downwards, hands folded to the chest.
in his right hand holds a golden crown, in his left a whip of three red
(or black) branches.
on his garb are a multitude of rose blossoms.
holds in his hand balance-scales.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.