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Engraving of the Archangel Michael.

Archangels are a rank of angel in the hierarchy of angels. However, the term may also designate an angel of the highest rank, generally a specific, named angel such as Archangel Michael. The word archangel itself is usually associated with the Abrahamic religions, but beings that are very similar to archangels are found in a number of religious traditions.

The English word archangel is derived from Greek ἀρχάγγελος, literally 'chief angel' or 'angel of origin'. It appears only twice in the New Testament in the phrase "with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God" (1 Thessalonians 4:16) and in relation to "the archangel Michael" (Jude 9).

According to Meteorologica Cosmica by Robert Fludd, this choir is ruled over by the Archangel Raphael.


Archangels are the chief leaders of the angels which appear among mortals. Their power is great and they serve God directly.

In some Kabbalah-based systems of ritual magic, all the four main archangels (Gabriel, Michael, Raphael and Uriel) are invoked as guarding the four quarters, or directions, and their corresponding colors are associated with magical properties. Lucifer or Satan in Christian traditions, or Iblis in Islam, is considered an archangel by Satanists and many non-Satanists, but most non-Satanists consider him evil and fallen from God's grace.

Textual basis

There are no explicit references to archangels in the canonical texts of the Hebrew Bible. In post-Biblical Judaism, certain angels came to take on a particular significance and developed unique personalities and roles. Though these archangels were believed to have ranked amongst the heavenly host, no systematic hierarchy ever developed. Metatron is considered one of the highest of the angels in Merkavah and Kabbalist mysticism and often serves as a scribe. He is briefly mentioned in the Talmud, and figures prominently in Merkavah mystical texts. Michael, who serves as a warrior and advocate for Israel, is looked upon particularly fondly. Archangel Gabriel is mentioned in the Book of Daniel and briefly in the Talmud, as well as many Merkavah mystical texts.

The New Testament makes over a hundred references to angels, but uses the word "archangel" only twice.

Canon archangels

The Catholic Church excluded most angels commonly considered archangels from their list of named angels in the 2001 Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy. "The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged." This document officially recognizes only three named angels:

List of other archangels

Kabbalistic angels in this choir

See also