Michael (Archangel)

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Archangel Michael fighting the dragon (10th / 11th century), tympanum at Southwell Minster
Raffael : The Archangel Michael (1518; Louvre)

Michael ( Hebrew מיכאל; Arabic ميكائيل / ميكال DMG "Mīkā'īl" or "Mīkāl", German "Who is like God?") Is an archangel according to the Tanach and occurs in the traditions of Judaism , Christianity and Islam . Unlike in Christianity, the angel Michael is never given "attributes of divinity " in Judaism . In the New Testament Revelation of John Michael appears in an eschatological context as the conqueror of Satan , whom he throws down to earth ( Rev 12 : 7-9  EU ). St. Michael has been since the victorious battle on the Lechfeld on August 10, 955 declared the patron saint of Eastern France and later Germany .

The Koran and Arabic literature received the figure of the Archangel Michael under the name Mikal and Mika'il from the 7th century AD .

Mentions in the Bible

The Archangel Michael conquers the dragon, Schwerin Castle (1857)

The heavenly being Michael is mentioned in both the Tanach and the New Testament .

Tanach (Old Testament)

In Dan 10.13 ff.  EU Michael fights with the "angel prince of the Persian Empire", whereupon Daniel receives his vision. In it Michael appears again as a defender of the people of God ( Dan 12,1  EU ).

New Testament

In the vision of the seer John ( Rev 12,7  EU ) the archangel Michael defeats the devil in the form of a dragon and pushes him down to earth:

“A battle broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels rose to fight the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought, but they did not stand and they lost their place in heaven. He was overthrown, the great dragon, the old serpent called the devil or Satan, who deceived the whole world; the dragon was thrown to the earth, and with him his angels were cast down. "

The Letter of Jude , a short warning and consolation letter of the New Testament, reports on a dispute between the archangel Michael and the devil about the body of Moses ( JudeEU ):

"When the archangel Michael ruled with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, he did not dare to pass a blasphemous judgment, but said: The Lord will show you in your place."


Michael saves the soul of Eve , detail from the illustration L'homme devant son juge suprême ( Grandes Heures de Rohan , 1430; Bibliothèque nationale de France )

In the apocryphal book of Enoch (1:20), Michael is named as the fourth of the seven archangels and patron saint of Israel and is referred to as “merciful and long-suffering” (2.40). In verse 1.11 God instructs Michael to bind the fallen angel Semjasa and his entourage "for 70 generations", to destroy the "spirits of the rejected" and to " wipe out all acts of violence and uncleanness from the earth". He also puts in his hands the Oath Aqae , which contains the mysteries of creation (2.69). Michael also acts as Enoch's guide and teacher and shows him, among other things, the tree of life (1:24) and "all the secrets of mercy and justice, [...] all the secrets of the ends of heaven and all containers of all stars and lights" ( 2.70).

Michael also plays a central role in the apocryphal Moses apocalypse . For example, he brings messages from God to Adam and his son Seth several times (3.2; 13.2). According to verse 22: 1, Michael blows the trumpet for God's judgment on sinful Adam. But it is also Michael who afterwards takes Adam to the “third heaven” at God's command (37.4) and provides there with linen and anointing oil (40.1). Later he helps Seth with the funeral of his mother Eve (43.1).

Finally, the idea of ​​Michael as guardian of the gate of Paradise goes back to the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus .

Michael is also associated with the "angel of the face" who, according to the apocryphal book of anniversaries, was first appointed by God as chronicler of world history (Jub 1:27), but then, at God's command, commissioned Moses to write the story of creation to write down for the people (Jub 2,1).

In the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 , Michael is referred to as the “Prince of Light” who leads the armies of God against the forces of evil under Belial . He also bears the title "Viceroy of Heaven" there.

Jewish tradition

The name of the heavenly being Michael is clearly of Jewish-Hebrew origin. Mi kamocha elohim means “who” (mi) “is like you” (ka (mocha)), “God” (El (ohim)). Judaism showed early and steadily the possible mediator role of the "archangels" to God, z. B. back as an intercessor . Likewise, it early and steadily denied the idea that angels or “archangels” (“heavenly prince”, “heavenly prince”) were beings acting independently, such as the fallen angel Lucifer in Christianity. The prohibition of idolatry is extended to Michael and other "archangels", as is the doctrine of the dualism of the two eternal warring powers, the realm of evil / darkness and the realm of good / light.

The authors of the Jewish Midrash texts often interpreted Michael in biblical angelic figures who were not identified by name, for example

  • in the cherub , which prevents people from returning to paradise ( Gen 3.24  EU )
  • in one of the angels who went to Sodom ( Gen 19.1ff.  EU ) to save Lot
  • in the angel who saved Isaac from the sacrificial death ( Gen 22.11ff.  EU )
  • in the angel with whom Jacob fought ( Gen 32.25ff.  EU )
  • in the angel who stood in the way of the donkey of Balaam ( Num 22,22  EU ),
  • in the "prince over the army of the Lord" ( Jos 5,13–15  EU ),
  • in the angel who destroyed the army of the Assyrian king Sennacherib ( 2 Kings 19.35  EU )
  • in the angel who saved the three young men from Nebuchadnezzar's furnace of fire ( Dan 3.20  EU ).

In Judaism, Michael and Gabriel are pictorially named as the guardian angel of the people of Israel . In the book of Daniel, the angel Gabriel turns to the prophet Daniel in a vision: “But first I want to tell you what is recorded in the book of truth. But nobody really helps me against them except your angel prince Michael. ”(Dan 10:21) In the eschatological narratives of the book of Daniel Michael has a key function for the people of Israel. “At that time Michael appears, the great prince angel, who stands up for the sons of your people. Then comes a time of need like no other since there were peoples until that time. But your people will be saved in that time, everyone who is recorded in the book. ”(Dan. 12, 1) Furthermore, the Jewish and Christian traditions also attribute to Michael the performance of services on behalf of God. He keeps the heavenly books and executes the judgments. According to a rabbinical story , Michael is made entirely of snow, which is why the metal silver is assigned to him.

Christian tradition


The Archangel Michael slays the dragon (Spanish illustration around 1400; Metropolitan Museum of Art )
Albrecht Dürer : Michael's fight with the dragon , woodcut (1498; Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe )

In Christianity , Michael is particularly regarded as the conqueror of the devil in the form of the dragon ( hell fall ) and as the leader of the heavenly host . This goes back to a formulation of the Septuagint ( Jos 5,14  EU ): "the highest general of the armed forces of the Lord" ( ancient Greek ἀρχιστράτηγος δυνάμεως Κυρίου archistrátēgos dynámeōs Kyríou ). The last words that Satan heard before his fall are said to have been “Who (is) like God?” - a literal translation of the Hebrew Mi-ka-el . Michael is portrayed as the guardian of the Paradise Gate at an early age. According to ecclesiastical tradition, he also has the role of "weigher of the soul" on the day of judgment .

Michael has a key function in the eschatological narratives of the Book of Daniel, since he decodes the apocalyptic visions of Daniel (in Judaism he is not considered a prophet) and thus assumes a messenger function to the people of Israel . In Daniel's visions, Michael is also called the "Guardian Angel of Israel". “And at that time Michael will appear, the great prince who stands up for the sons of your people. And it will be a time of tribulation unlike any other, from the time a nation came into being to that time. And in that time your people will be saved, everyone who is found written in the book. ”( Dan 12.1  EU ) The term“ sons ”or“ children of your people ”has erroneously led in the Christian tradition to Michael as Patron saint of children was considered.

The Archangel Michael weighing souls , Antiphonale Cisterciense (second half of the 15th century; Abbey Library,
Rein Abbey )

Michael also plays an important role in popular belief . It is he who creates a list of the good and bad deeds of every person, which is presented to him first on the day of death ( particular judgment ), but also on the day of the Last Judgment and on the basis of which he judges him. He appears here in the important position of weighing the soul . He also guides the soul of the deceased on its way to the hereafter . Accordingly, he is represented with the attributes Libra and Flame Sword. The performing arts assigns the color red in all shades to it (for fire, warmth and blood).

The Christian idea of ​​St. Michael was mainly influenced by the Revelation of John ( Rev 12.7  EU ), but also by thoughts from the 1st book of Enoch and other Apocrypha . There are similarities with various ancient deities from other cultures: to be mentioned are, for example, the Egyptian moon god Thoth , who records the result of the weighing of hearts at the judgment of the dead, the Akkadian god of wisdom Nabu , who is connected to the planet Mercury , the writer and holder of the tables of fate, as well as its Sumerian counterpart, the goddess Nisaba . As a spiritual director and weigher of souls can finally Michael Hermes Psychopompos, the Zoroastrian gods Sraosha and Rashnu , the Egyptian gods Horus and Anubis and the Mandaean gods Hibil and Abathur compare.

Essence and nature

Francesco Botticini : Three Archangels and Tobias (1470; Uffizi Gallery , Florence)

Judaism, Islam, and Christianity regard Michael as one of the four archangels ; the others are Gabriel , Raphael and Uriel . Was controversial among the Church Fathers the classification of Sts. Michael into the heavenly hierarchy : While Salmeron , Robert Bellarmine as well as Basilius the Great and other Greek patriarchs give him the highest rank among the angels , Bonaventure, for example, only regards him as the head of the Seraphim , the first of the nine angel choirs . According to Thomas Aquinas , he heads the lowest order, the simple angels. According to a legend, the cherubim were created from the tears of the Archangel Michael, which he shed on the sins of the believers. The Mozarabic Rite ranks him among the 24 elders.

In Mormon theology , the archangel Michael embodied himself in the first man Adam ; he is seen here as God's image. According to the faith of Jehovah's Witnesses , Michael is identical with the Word of God (cf. Jn 1,1  EU ) as well as with Jesus . He was Jehovah in the creation of the world provided assistance, later as incarnate Son of Man a life without sin lived and was after his sacrificial death returned to its original spiritual state. A similar idea is found among Seventh-day Adventists . Here, despite being equated with Michael, Jesus Christ is also seen as “God the Son” and thus as part of the Trinity .


Procession from Pope Gregory to implore the end of the plague: Michael listens to him and sheaths his sword. Miniature from the Très Riches Heures (around 1415)
The bronze statue of the Archangel Michael on the Castel Sant'Angelo (based on a design by Peter Anton von Verschaffelt , 1752)
  • According to tradition, St. Michael in Constantinople visited the Emperor Constantine .
  • There are several accounts of an apparition of St. Michael in 490 on Monte Sant'Angelo in the Gargano Mountains in Apulia . A rich cattle farmer named Gargano is said to have looked for his runaway bull there. He finally found the bull on a ledge in front of a cave. Because the animal could no longer get away from there, he wanted to kill it with an arrow. However, the arrow spun in the air and hit the archer, who survived only because of the prayers of the Bishop of Siponto. The Archangel Michael then appeared to the bishop and explained that he had performed this miracle so that a sanctuary would be built for him in this cave. To this day, the cave on Monte Sant'Angelo is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Italy.
  • At the invocation of St. Michaels through Pope Gregory (590–604) to free the city of Rome from the plague , the angel is said to have appeared over Hadrian's mausoleum in 590 and sheathed his sword, whereupon the plague disappeared. Then the Pope named Hadrian's mausoleum " Castel Sant'Angelo ". In 1752 a bronze statue of the Archangel by the Flemish artist Pieter Anton Verschaffelt was installed on the Castel Sant'Angelo.
  • In 708, according to legend, the Archangel Michael showed himself to St. Aubert , the Bishop of Avranches ( Normandy ). The establishment of the Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey goes back to this.
  • In 1425, the Archangel Michael is said to have appeared to the Virgin of Orléans and asked her to save France.
  • 1429, in October, the archangel Michael is said to have saved the six towns of Bautzen from the attacking Hussites .

Patron of the soldiers

The Archangel Michael was born together with other saints, such as St. Georg , Sergius and Mauritius , venerated as the patron saint of soldiers and warriors. Likewise, St. Michael also patron of the Austrian and Swiss police. He is a symbol of the ecclesia militans , the defensive church: Princeps militiae coelestis quem honorificant angelorum cives ("Prince of the heavenly hosts"; because of this epithet he is also the patron saint of paratroopers ).

St. Michael is also said to have intervened in various battles:

  • For example, the victory of the Lombards of Sipontum (Manfredonia) over the Greek Neapolitans on May 8, 663 is attributed to his intervention - which is why an additional Michael’s festival , known since Pope Pius V. Apparitio S. Michaelis , that was widespread in large parts of the Western Church on this day is committed.
  • The archangel is said to have saved the city ​​of Constantinople twice: 626 from the Avars and 676 from the Arabs .
  • After the battle on the Lechfeld in 955, St. Michael became the patron saint of the Holy Roman Empire and later Germany.
  • According to a Russian chronicle, before his victorious battle against the Mongol Khan Mamaj on the Kulikowo field in 1380 , Grand Duke Dmitri Donskoi prostrated himself in front of an icon of the "Heavenly Leader and Archistrate" Michael.
  • He plays another role in the Hundred Years War between England and France . The Maid of Orléans ( Jeanne d'Arc ) saw him in her visions, from which she derived her divine mission.

In the late Middle Ages Michael and Saint George were appointed patron saints of chivalry and especially of the orders of chivalry consecrated to him , the Ordre de Saint-Michel (France, 1469) and the Order of St. Michael and St. George (England, 1818).


St. Michael also as a healer, as a heavenly doctor and patron of the sick. For example, according to a report by the Patriarch Sisinnios of Constantinople († 427) in the Phrygian Colossai , later Chonai , he had a miraculous healing spring spring up in the 3rd century , after which a church was built around it for the Archangel. For about a hundred years the pagans tried to extinguish Christianity by diverting the mountain streams Lykokapros and Kouphos into the healing spring in order to pollute it and thus take away its healing power. At the intercession of the holy hermit Archippos (cf. Col 4,17  EU ), the archangel Michael descended from heaven "like a pillar of fire" and split a rock, whereupon the masses of water flowed underground and carried away the wicked heathen, the healing spring and the But did no harm to the church. Through the miracle, which the Orthodox Church commemorates on September 6th, Chonae became the center of a pronounced archangel cult in all of Phrygia, the excesses of which the Council of Laodicea (363) tried to control. Presumably he superimposed and replaced a comparable pre-Christian tradition around the ancient healing god Men-Karoi . There are also hot springs dedicated to St. Michael in Pythia in Bithynia and other places in Asia Minor.

Local and regional patronage / heraldry

Saint Michael as patron saint of the Germans at the Völkerschlachtdenkmal
Coat of arms Vienna-Heiligenstadt
Coat of arms of the city ​​of Brussels

St. Michael is the patron

See also: Dragon (heraldic animal) #Michael and the dragon

Churches and shrines

In Constantinople , St. Michael consecrated up to fifteen churches at times . The most important of these, the Michaelion, a basilica built by Emperor Constantine the Great in 314, was located in Sosthenion , near the city. It is considered to be the oldest church in Christianity consecrated to the Archangel Michael; In the middle of the 15th century, however, it was demolished by the Ottomans in order to use the building material for the construction of the Rumelian fortress , which was part of the preparations for the conquest of Constantinople. Another famous Michael Church stood inside the walls at the Arcadius - spas . According to the chronicler Prokopios , six Michael churches were commissioned by Emperor Justinian I alone . In Alexandria , a St. Michael's Church was built over an earlier Cleopatra temple.

The oldest St. Michael's Church in the west was the basilica on Via Salaria north of Rome, the remains of which were rediscovered in 2000. According to archaeological dates, it originated between 390 and 410. It was first mentioned in the year 435. Its consecration date on September 29, determined by Pope Gelasius I 493, became the date for the festival of the Archangel for the entire Latin Church . From her the veneration spread across Europe. In the course of armed conflicts it fell into disrepair in the 6th century. Although it was rebuilt, it could not regain its original meaning. The basilica was last mentioned in the 9th century. It is not known why it fell into disrepair or was destroyed.

Since then, Michael's main shrine has been Monte Sant'Angelo in Gargano ( Apulia ), where the archangel is said to have appeared in 493. Mountain sanctuaries were often consecrated to him - including the chapel of Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe in Le Puy .

The monastery church of St. Michael, built in 748 by the Benedictine monastery Mondsee in Upper Austria, is considered the oldest known Michael’s church on German soil . The monastery was founded by Duke Odilo von Baiern . The oldest known Michaelskirche in today's Federal Republic of Germany was built in Hamburg in 913 , the most important is the Michaeliskirche in Hildesheim , which was built shortly after the turn of the millennium (1010 to 1033). Today it is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List (Europe) and adorns a two euro coin. Bishop Bernward von Hildesheim , the educator of Emperor Otto III. , had it built based on the model of the nine heavenly choirs of angels and arranged for the famous bronze castings of the Christ door ( Bernward door ) and the Christ column ( Bernward column ) to be used. According to Uwe Wolff's interpretation , Bernward had five angels cast in bronze on the bronze door, juxtaposing central scenes from the Old and New Testaments, including the archangel Michael with the sword. The Hildesheim Michaelskirche was designated by Bernward as his own burial place. For centuries the Benedictines prayed on Michaelis Hill for the salvation of the founder and all people entrusted to their pastoral care. On the site of the old monastery, which was completely destroyed in the devastating air raid on Hildesheim on March 22, 1945, the Andreanum grammar school, founded in 1225, stands today .

Another example of a church, the construction of which must be seen in close relation to the veneration of the Archangel Michael, is the Speyer Cathedral . In the Middle Ages, churches were often oriented towards the rising sun (a symbol of Christ). The Choir of the Cathedral of Speyer, as studies have shown, aligned with the rising of the sun out on the feast of the Archangel Michael in the 1027th St. Michael is one of the five patrons of the Speyer Cathedral.

Mont-Saint-Michel , Normandy

One of the most famous Michaels shrines is located on Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy . St. Michael's Mount is the British counterpart to Mont-Saint-Michel, the Italian is the Sacra di San Michele in Piedmont. Mention may be made on the Cathédrale Saint Michel in Brussels , the Michael church in Luxembourg , Orsanmichele in Florence that Michael Church in Prague , St. Michael (Munich) to Munich , the Michael church in Košice , the Cathedral of the Archangel in Moscow , the Monastery of the Archangel Michael Panormitis in Symi ( Greece ), the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome and the Skellig Michael on the west coast of Ireland .


Michael with allegorical representations of faith and church (miniature around 1500)

Pope Gelasius I laid the feast of St. Archangel Michael and all angels on September 29th, the consecration day of St. Michael's Church on Via Salaria in Rome. The feast of St. Michael is celebrated by the Roman Catholic , Anglican, and some Protestant churches. Today the Eastern Church celebrates the feast of St. Michael on November 8th, after the dates June 18th, October 27th and December 10th were common in old Byzantium, depending on the church.

In Egypt, the festival of the Archangel is celebrated on November 12th. He is also venerated there on the 12th of every month, especially on June 12th, when the level of the Nile tends to rise.

The day of remembrance was popularly called Michaelmas or Michaelmas . Michaelmas Day was traditionally a popular date for ongoing rent, lease or interest payments and, like the Candlemas on February 2, a traditional date for hiring servants or maids as well as the beginning of the winter semester and the academic year at universities or of the school half year at schools when the school year ran from Easter to Easter. On Michaelmas day the "artificial light time" began, in which one worked with artificial light sources, as well as the spinning room time. Both came to an end for Mary Candlemas. The traditional Turamichele festival still takes place in Augsburg today .

A popular belief of the farmers said that the nature of the contents of gall apples opened on or around Michaelmas day predicts the fertility of the coming year.

The tradition of baking Sankt-Michaels-Brot or Michaelibrot from freshly ground grains has been preserved to this day.


The sacraments of Popes Leo the Great (6th century; "Natale Basilicae Angeli via Salaria"), Gelasius I (7th century; "S. Michaelis Archangeli") and Gregory the Great (8th century ) already contained important Michael prayers .; "Dedicatio Basilionis S. Angeli Michaelis").

But it was best known in 1880 by Pope Leo XIII. composed prayer. Originally, prayer was planned at the end of every holy mass, in 1960 Pope John XXIII. this at the discretion of the priest, after the Second Vatican Council it was finally no longer used in the liturgy . The text says:

Latin German
"Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli
esto praesidium.
'Imperet illi Deus', supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae coelestis,
Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum
pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute, in infernum detrude.
"Holy Archangel Michael,
defend us in battle;
against malice and stalking
the devil be our protection.
'God command him', we plead;
but you, prince of the heavenly hosts,
poke Satan and the other evil spirits,
that sneak around in the world
to corrupt souls
by the power of God to hell.

Because of the important task assigned to Michael for the dying when their soul leaves the body, believers were advised to invoke him at the hour of death. It is mentioned in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite when the sacraments are given. In the offertory of the Requiem , Michael is invoked as signifer , i.e. as the bearer of the standard or standard that is supposed to guide the deceased into the afterlife:

Latin German
"Domine Jesu Christe, rex gloriae,
libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum
de poenis inferni et de profundo lacu;
libera eas de ore leonis,
ne absorbeat eas tartarus,
ne cadant in obscurum.
sed signifer sanctus Michael represents
eas in lucem sanctam,
quam olim Abrahae promisisti
et semini eius. "
"O Lord Jesus Christ, glorious King,
free the souls of all departed believers
of the punishments of hell and of the deep lake:
Save them from the lion's jaws,
so that it does not devour hell,
so that they do not fall into the darkness:
But the standard bearer,
St. Michael,
lead them into the holy light,
as you once promised Abraham
and his descendants. "

Orders and brotherhoods

Archangel Michael at Cologne Cathedral

In 1172 King Alfonso I of Portugal founded the Order of the Wing of St. Michael in the course of the fight against the Moors ; this still exists today as a dynastic order of the House of Bragança . In 1469, King Louis XI created of France the order of knights Ordre de Saint-Michel . In 1818 the Order of St. Michael and St. George followed in England .

In 1693, the Wittelsbacher Joseph Clemens von Bayern , then Prince Archbishop of Cologne , founded the Order of St. Michael , which was only open to the nobility, and, as a civil counterpart, the Arch Brotherhood of St. Michael , which still exists today ("Brotherhood of St. Archangel and Prince of Heaven Michael") ), which soon had around 100,000 members.

From the end of the 19th century there was the St. Michael Association - Association of German Nobles for the Care of History and the Preservation of Historically Justified Class Interests , of which Friedrich Freiherr von Gaisberg-Schöckingen was chairman and which also included Guttenberg and Müllenheim . The well-known German heraldist Gustav Adolf Closs designed an undated ex-libris for the association , which is labeled "Sanct Michael" and which shows the twelve coats of arms of the sexes involved in two columns on the left and right, framing the figure of Michael the dragon slayer wearing a gold shield with a black German eagle.

In 1910, Fr. Bronisław Markiewicz consecrated his “Society for Moderation and Labor”, which was initially mainly involved in helping orphans, to St. Michael. Since its ecclesiastical recognition in 1921, it has been called the Congregation of the Holy Archangel Michael (" Order of Michael", "Michaelites").

On September 29, 1931, a Michael Brotherhood was founded in Marburg as part of the Berneuchen movement ; it is an evangelical association of theologians and lay people. The Evangelical Academy Bad Boll , founded on Michaelmas Day in 1945, celebrates its Foundation Day every year with a Michaelis Academy . The St. Michaelsvereinigung , founded by Paul Kuhn , has had a church with a capacity of about 1000 people in Dozwil , Canton Thurgau , Switzerland as a "place of grace" since 1971 .

Islamic tradition

Mohammed on the journey to Mecca , accompanied by the angels Gabriel , Michael, Raphael and Azrail (Turkish miniature, 1595)

In Arabic literature , Michael is known as Mika'il or - in the Koran - as Mikal . He is considered one of the four archangels and ranks second in their hierarchy : Jibrail (Gabriel) as the messenger of the word of God appears eight times in the Koran; Michael is mentioned only once ( Sura 2.98); the other two archangels Azrael and Israfil can only be found in the extra-Quranic tradition.

Sura 2,98 contains threats against the enemies of Allah , his angels and messengers and especially Gabriel and Michaels.

Michael lives in seventh heaven and, according to another unconfirmed legend, is said to have emerald green wings. According to tradition, Allah built a house in paradise for the inhabitants of heaven (al-Bayt al-Ma'mur) , to which the angels make a pilgrimage five times a day to pray and praise God. According to unconfirmed sources, Gabriel acts as a muezzin , i.e. as a crier, while Michael acts as an imam (prayer leader).


Eastern Church

The Synaxis (gathering) of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel is the feast day of St. Michael in the Orthodox Church (November 8th). The miracle of Archangel Michael is celebrated in Chonae on September 6th .

Icon of the Archangel Michael (Byzantium around 1390)

In the iconography of the Eastern Churches , the Archangel Michael is depicted in full form or as a half-length portrait . Equipped with mighty wings, he often wears soldiers' clothing and a sword. But there are also representations in half profile, for example in the Deësis with a bowed head. As Deësis, he and Gabriel flank the enthroned Christ Pantocrator (All Ruler) or the pre-existing Immanuel , for example in the famous mosaic above the imperial portal of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople .

The main attributes of the archangel are staff, sword and sphaira (globe). St. Michael was considered the patron of the Byzantine emperors , whose flags also adorned his portrait. The Proskynesis title icon of the Heroon, Michael’s Chapel in the imperial Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Constantinople, shows Michael as an “incorporeal archangel towards the Savior”.

Were popular in the Eastern Church iconography and whole Michael's Lives , which represent a variety of miracles and wonders of the archangel, such as the struggle for the soul of Moses, Jacob's ladder, the fight with Jacob, the three young men in the fiery furnace, the appearance to Joshua, the rescue of Lot from Sodom, the victory over Sennacherib, the Chonae miracle, etc. They are often found in the naos or the side chapels of Orthodox churches. Such vitae are found relatively rarely on icons ; an example from 1399 can be seen in the Archangel Michael Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin .

Depictions of Michael as the conqueror of the devil are not rarer than in the iconography of the Latin Church. (Fall of the angel Lucifer ). In an apocalyptic setting, he rides as an archistrategist (leader of the heavenly host) on a fiery horse and strikes with a spear, lance or cross in the direction of the devil dragon, which is curling on the ground . He blows the trumpet and holds a censer and gospel book . “At God's behest, the holy Archangel Michael thrust the fallen spirit into hell.” Is the inscription on a southern Russian icon from around 1800.

According to Greek popular belief , the face of the soul guide and weigher Michael can only be seen by the dying and the dead.

Western church

In depictions of the fall from hell in the Latin church , the winged angel prince is usually shown fighting and in the air, for example on a cloud. His clothing is inspired by the armor of Roman soldiers and consists mostly of a short chiton , breastplate, red chlamys and boots with gold leggings. Sword with (flames) or lance it advances the writhing at his feet, often depicted as a dragon, but sometimes in human form Satan to his body. Sometimes the shield of his armor reads “Quis ut Deus” (“Who is like God?”), The Tetragrammaton or the Christ monogram “ IHS ”.

Well-known representations come from Albrecht Dürer ( woodcut from 1498 ), Raffael (1518), Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1563), Jacopo Tintoretto (1592), Peter Paul Rubens (1620), Johann Michael Rottmayr (1697), Giuseppe Castiglione (18 Century) and Eugène Delacroix (1861). Plastic versions of this motif can be found on the Michaelskirchen in Hamburg , Munich and Vienna , but also on the Boulevard Saint-Michel in Paris .

In the Middle Ages Michael was also often depicted as a soul weigher with sword and scales, for example in the "Alsatian legenda aurea" (13th century), on paintings by Guariento di Arpo (1354), Hans Memling (1470) and the Kartner master ( 15th century), on an altarpiece in the parish church of St. Georgen (1523) and in the Palazzo Carrara in Padua . The motif can also be found on frescoes in the churches of St. Michel in Velleron and Notre-Dame de Benva in Lorgues as well as in the tympanum of the cathedral of Autun (France).

Together with the other two archangels Gabriel and Raphael, Michael was also painted by Lucas von Leyden or Sebastiano Ricci , as guardian at the entrance to paradise by Sebald Beham (16th century). In a woodcut by the Knight von Turn from 1493, Michael argues with Satan over the soul of a knight's wife. The medieval manuscript “Life, Death and Miracles of St. Hieronymus ”contains a miniature showing Michael with the allegories of the Church and of Faith .

Literature, film and theater

Michael plays a central role in John Milton's verse epic Paradise Lost , where he leads the heavenly host into battle against Satan as an angel prince .

In the G'schicht vom Brandner Kasper and the eternal 'life of Franz von Kobell from 1871, but above all in Kurt Wilhelm's theater or television version from 1975, Michael appears - played by Heino Hallhuber - as a relentlessly strict judge of the soul and thus more dramaturgical Counterpart to the somewhat dissolute and humorous Boandlkramer .

The American Jesuit Raymond Bishop reports in his diary of the exorcism on a thirteen-year-old boy, in which the child is said to have appeared in a vision of the archangels and expelled the devil from his body. The notes served as inspiration for William Peter Blatty for his novel The Exorcist from 1971 ( filmed in 1973 ).

Furthermore, the archangel Michael was the title character in the comedy film Michael from 1996. John Travolta plays an unconventional angel who has descended on earth.

In the 2003 novel Michaels Verführung by the Austrian writer Sabine M. Gruber , the angel Michael is an ironic-naive narrator and at the same time the alter ego of the main character, a young poet who mutates into a smart copywriter Mike and ends up as a worn-out Mickey.

Michael also appears in Wolfgang Hohlbein's book War of Angels , where he fights Azazel at the side of a boy.

2010: Legion . Archangel Michael (played by Paul Bettany ) saves humanity.

Michael also appears in the television series Supernatural to send Lucifer back to Hell .




  • Brigitte Groneberg : The gods of the Mesopotamia. Artemis and Winkler, Düsseldorf and Zurich 2004, ISBN 3-7608-2306-8 , pp. 118–129.
  • Erich Weidinger: The Apocrypha. Hidden Books of the Bible. Augsburg, oA, p. 311.
  • Gerhard Bellinger : Knaurs Lexikon der Mythologie. Approved license issue. Augsburg 2000, pp. 11, 38, 157, 197, 207, 327, 346, 420, 465, 485-487.
  • Heinrich Krauss: Small encyclopedia of angels. From Ariel to Zebaoth. Original edition. Munich 2001, pp. 73f., 119–121.
  • Johann Siegen: The Archangel Michael. Christiana Verlag, Stein am Rhein 1996, ISBN 3-7171-0609-0 .
  • Manfred Müller: "St. Michael - the German patron saint? ”To the veneration of the archangel in the past and present. 2nd Edition. Bernhardus-Verlag, Langwaden 2005, ISBN 3-934551-89-0 .
  • Peter Jezler (Ed.): Heaven, Hell, Purgatory. The afterlife in the Middle Ages. An exhibition by the Swiss National Museum in collaboration with the Schnütgen Museum and the Medieval Department of the Wallraf-Richartz Museum of the City of Cologne , Zurich (1994)
  • Wilhelm Lueken: Michael. A presentation and comparison of the Jewish and the Eastern Christian tradition of the Archangel Michael. Goettingen 1898.
  • Culte et pèlerinages à Saint-Michel en occident. The trois monts dédiés à l'archange. Sous la direction de Pierre Bouet (et al.). = Collection de l'Ecole française de Rome, vol. 316. Rome: Ecole française de Rome, 2003, ISBN 2-7283-0670-2 .
  • Michael Mach: Art. Michael. In: K. van der Toorn; B. Becking; Pieter W. van der Horst (Ed.): Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. Leiden, Boston, Cologne, 2 1999, 569-572.
  • Michael Wolffsohn : Michael biographical. Root and career of a name. Article in the journal der Akademie zur Debatte , Catholic Academy in Bavaria , 6/2007.
  • Wolfgang Urban (Conservator) : The Archangel Michael in Faith and History. Sadifa-Media, Kehl am Rhein 2010, ISBN 978-3-88786-419-4 .

Web links

Wikisource: Archangel Michael  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Archangel Michael  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Archangel Michael in Art  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Commons : St-Michaels-Kirchen  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Max Wiener: The teachings of Judaism according to the sources. Vol. II, pp. 213ff., New ed. v. Walter Homolka, Knesebeck, Munich 1999.
  2. Mechilta, section Jitro 10
  3. John J. Collins: Art. "Daniel / Daniel book". In: Religion Past and Present . Concise dictionary for theology and religious studies. Fourth, completely revised edition. Edited by Hans Dieter Betz, Don S. Browning, Bernd Janowski , Eberhard Jüngel . Vol. 2, C-E. Sp. 556–559, here Sp. 558.
  4. Ancient Greek Ψυχοπομπός (" guiding the souls")
  5. Adam's Religion. denversnuffer.com, December 21, 2015, accessed August 26, 2017 .
  6. "Adam-God" - Brigham Young's Theory or Divine Doctrine? www.mormonismus-online.de, 2017, accessed on August 26, 2017 .
  7. Now a saint is also looking over the shoulder of the police ( memento from August 15, 2014 in the web archive archive.today ) - (City of Basel - Justice and Security Department, accessed on August 15, 2014)
  8. cvp-austria.at - Archangel Michael - patron saint of the police
  9. Michael Sachs: The flight of the evangelical wife Anna Magdalena von Reibnitz (1664– ~ 1745) with her five children from Silesia, threatened by forced Catholicization, in 1703 - a mood from the age of the Counter Reformation and Pietism. In: Medical historical messages. Journal for the history of science and specialist prose research. Volume 34, 2015 (2016), pp. 221–263, here: p. 236.
  10. Marco Bianchini / Massimo Vitti: La basilica di San Michele Arcangelo al VII miglio della via Salaria alla luce delle scoperte archeologiche . In: Pontifica Commissione di Archeologia Sacra (ed.): Rivista di Archeologia Cristiana . tape LXXIX . Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana, Città del Vaticano 2003, p. 173-242 ( academia.edu ).
  11. ^ Uwe Wolff : Bishop Bernward. Life at the turn of the millennium. A reading and work book. Lax Publishing House. Hildesheim 1996 (2nd edition).
  12. ^ Uwe Wolff : Bishop Bernward. Life at the turn of the millennium. A reading and work book. Lax Publishing House. Hildesheim 1996 (2nd edition).
  13. Erwin Reidinger : 1027: Foundation of the Speyer Cathedral. Orientation - Axle Bend - Archangel Michael . In: Archive for Middle Rhine Church History, Vol. 63 (2011), Speyer, p. 9.37. Plan of the Imperial Cathedral in Speyer
  14. The easting of medieval monastery churches of the Benedictine and Cistercian orders - (University of Freiburg)
  15. ^ Manfred Becker-Huberti : Celebrations - Festivals - Seasons. Living customs all year round . Herder, Freiburg-Basel-Wien 1998, ISBN 3-451-27702-6 , p. 41.
  16. ^ Heinrich Marzell : Folklore from herbal books of the 16th century. In: Journal of the Association for Folklore. Volume 24, 1914, pp. 1-19, here: pp. 11 f. ("Peasant practice" from 1514).
  17. Max Höfler: Sankt Michaelsbrot. In: Zeitschrift des Verein für Volkskunde 11, 1901, pp. 193–201, here: p. 195.
  18. Max Höfler: Sankt Michaelsbrot. In: Journal of the Association for Folklore 11, 1901, pp. 193–201.
  19. The art educator Michael HG Zachow has written a very helpful and extensive overview of the Archangel Michael in the visual arts with detailed explanations of images and text under the title Quis ut Deus . https://www.quis-ut-deus.de/
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on June 29, 2006 .