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Catholic Dictionary




A chief or ruling angel. The term occurs twice in the New Testament (Jude 5:9; I Thessalonians 4:16) and has two meanings in the Catholic vocabulary. In its wider sense, an archangel is any angel of higher rank, so that St. Michael is an archangel although he is the prince of the Seraphim. But more strictly, archangels are those angelic spirits who belong to the eighth or second last of nine choirs of angels. As distinct from guardian angels, archangels are messengers of God to men in matters of greater significance. Thus Raphael delivered Tobias' wife from demonic obsession (Tobit 12:;6, 15) and traditionally is identified with the angel who moved the waters of the pool, where Christ worked his miracle (John 5:1-4). Gabriel was the angel of the Annunciation. St. Michael is the leader of the heavenly host, who fought and won against the rebellious spirits (Revelation 12:7-9).