петък, 21 март 2014 г.

Michael

The most prominent and greatest angel in Christian, Jewish, and Islamic lore. Michael means in Hebrew “who is like God” or “who is as God.” Michael is Chaldean in origin. In ANGELOLOGIES , his chief roles are many: he is warrior, priest, protector, healer, guardian. He holds numerous offices in heaven: he is chief of the VIRTUES and ARCHANGELS , one of the ANGELS OF THE PRESENCE ,a PRINCE OF LIGHT , ANGEL OF TRUTH , and angel of repentance, righteousness, mercy, and salvation. Some of his roles overlap with those of other great archangels, Uriel, Gabriel, and Raphael; of the four, he is the primary aspect of the ANGEL OF THE LORD . Michael also shares similarities with Metatron and Melchizedek. He also has duties as the ANGEL OF DEATH.Biblical References to Michael Michael is mentioned by name in the Old Testament books of DANIEL and the New Testament books of Jude and REVELATION . In Daniel, he is the GUARDIAN ANGEL or PRINCE of the people of God [Israel]. In Daniel 10:13, Michael is named and described as “one of the chief princes, and in 10:21, “one having the appear- ance of a man” tells Daniel “there is none who con- tends by my side except Michael, your prince.” In Daniel 12:1, the prophecy of “the time of the end” states that: At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trou- ble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time; but at that time your people shall be delivered, every one whose name shall be found written in the book. This refers to the Israelites’ departure from Egypt, led by MOSES and guided by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night, as told in the book of Exodus. In Exodus 23:20, God promises to send his angel before them. Though Michael is not named here, it is widely interpreted that he is that angel. Jude 1:8 makes a reference to the archangel Michael contending with Satan over the body of MOSES . Accord- ing to Jewish lore, Michael became angry at Satan’s contention that Moses was a murderer and therefore was not worthy of burial. Michael says to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you.” In REVELATION 12:7–12, Michael and his legions battle Satan and his forces, and defeat them; they are thrown down. Numerous other biblical references to “the Angel of Yahweh” and “the Angel of the Lord” are interpreted as meaning Michael. In ZECHARIAH 3:1–2, an Angel of the Lord who is interpreted as Michael confronts Satan before God and the high priest Joshua, and he serves as guide to Zechariah in his vision. Michael in Other Texts and Lore Numerous references in apocryphal writings to the Angel of the Lord and to unnamed but important angels are widely interpreted to be Michael. In the Slavonic Life of ADAM AND EVE , he prays for the couple after their fall. In 2 ENOCH he is a chief and captain of angels; in 3 Enoch, he is called the Great Prince who is in charge of the seventh HEAVEN . In 1 Enoch he joins Gabriel and Surufel (Suriel/Uriel) in petitioning God to take action against the WATCHERS . The QUMRAN TEXT 4Q529 is a visionary recital by Michael on his journey to the highest heaven; Gabriel serves as mystic guide and interpreter of the vision. Michael then descends to lower angels to report what he has seen. He tells them that in the highest heaven he beheld troops of fire and nine mountains. Gabriel appeared and told him that a city (interpreted to be the heavenly Jerusalem) will be built for the Name of the Great One (the Lord), in whose presence no evil shall be committed. In the Midrash Konen, Michael offers sacrifices on an altar in the heavenly Temple of Jerusalem in Zebhul, the fourth heaven. In Jewish legend the two primeval monsters, Leviathan and Behemoth, will murder each other, but variations of the story predict that God will send Michael and Gabriel against both creatures, and that when they fail to dispatch either, God will shoulder the task Himself. Some midrashim state that God commands the archangel Michael to “bring me dust from my sanctu- ary” to make Adam. Others say God disdains to fetch Adam’s dust himself and sends an angel instead, either Michael to Mount Moriah or Gabriel to the world's our corners. Nevertheless earth opposed the angels, knowing she will be cursed on Adam’s account, and God stretches forth his own hand to gather it. When Cain kills Abel, some midrashim say that when he tries to bury the corpse earth spews it up again and cries, “I will receive no other body until the clay that was fashioned into Adam has been restored to me!” At this Cain flees, and Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael place the corpse upon a rock, where it remains many years without corrupting. When Adam dies, these same archangels bury both bodies at Hebron side by side, in the very field from which God had taken Adam’s dust. The midrashim say that the FALLEN ANGELS Azael and Semyaza (see WATCHERS ) cause such wickedness on earth among the Canaanites that the four archangels tell God, and God sends Raphael to bind Azael hand and foot, heaping jagged rocks over him in the dark Cave of Dudael, where he now abides until the Last Days. Gabriel destroys the Fallen Ones by inciting them to civil war. Michael chains Semyaza and his fellows in other dark caves for 70 generations. Uriel becomes the messenger of salvation who visit NOAH . One midrash said that when JACOB and Esau are in Rebekah’s womb and fight, that Michael intervenes on Jacob’s behalf and saves him from death. Samael inter- venes on behalf of Esau. Rabbinic lore says that Gabriel and Michael were witnesses to the contract in which Esau sold Jacob his birthright. The Testament of ABRAHAM relates that when Michael comes to fetch Abraham’s soul, the patriarch boldly insists on seeing the whole world. God com- mands Michael to let Abraham ride across the heavens in a chariot drawn by CHERUBIM , and so his wish is ful- filled, yet Abraham is still reluctant to die. God then sends the Angel of Death disguised as a fair youth, and when his true aspect is revealed Abraham faints in hor- ror. Death draws out Abraham’s soul through his fin- gers. Michael wraps it in a divinely woven kerchief and conveys it to heaven. The Yalqut Genesis and the Pirqe Rabbi Eliezer say that it is Michael who fights with Jacob at Peniel. When God asks Michael, “What have you done to my first- born son? Michael answers, “I shrank a sinew in your honor.” God says, “It is good. Henceforth, until the end of time, you shall have charge of Israel and his posterity! For the prince of angels should guard the prince of men; fire should guard fire, and head should guard head!” Hebrew midrashim and folklore sources tell that when Jacob’s daughter Dinah is raped by the Canaanite Sechem, she gives birth to a daughter. Her brothers wishes to kill the child but Jacob restrains them and puts a silver disk about her neck, laying her under- neath a thornbush (hence her name “Asenath” for the bush). Michael, in the shape of an eagle, takes off with Asenath to Egypt and leaves her beside God’s altar, where a priest finds her and brings her up. Many years later when Joseph saves Egypt from famine, he makes a trip throughout Egypt and the women throw him tokens of gratitude. Asenath throws him her silver disk and he recognizes it. Knowing she must be his own niece, he marries her. Michael in Christian Lore Christianity recognizes Michael as the Guardian Angel of the Hebrew nation, and the angel who wages cease- less war against the forces of Satan. He is the special defender of Christians (and particularly Catholics) and the Catholic Church. Satan trembles at the mere men- tion of his name, and all the angels of heaven bow down before him in obedience. Michael inspires fidelity to God. St. Francis de Sales wrote that venera- tion of Michael is the greatest remedy against despising the rights of God, insubordination, skepticism, and infidelity. In Catholic devotion, there is no greater angel than Michael, who is canonized as a saint. The Catholic Church refers to him as “Prince of the heavenly hosts.” Churches were built and dedicated to him from the fifth century on. So intense was adoration of Michael that many devotional cults sprang up all over Europe, peaking in popularity in the late Middle Ages. Devo- tion to Michael (as well as to Gabriel and Raphael) is still carried out by Catholic DEVOTIONAL CULTS and in prayer and Mass. At Mass, Michael presides over the worship of ado- ration to the Most High, and he sends to God the prayers of the faithful, symbolized by the smoke from incense. The prayer to St. Michael asking him to defend Christians in battle is a condensed form of the general exorcism against Satan and evil spirits com- posed by Pope Leo XIII. One of Michael’s important duties is guiding the souls of the newly departed to the afterlife. In this capacity, he resembles the Greek/Roman god Hermes/ Mercury and the Egyptian god Thoth. (See PSYCHOPOM - POI .) Michael weighs the souls for righteousness. He is associated with benevolent aspects of the Angel of Death and has the ability to shapeshift when he comes to take a soul away (as in the case of Abraham). In lore, Michael is the angel designated to appear to MARY to announce her death. Michael also guards the gates of purgatory and has pity on the souls therein. Legends tells of prayers made to Michael for souls in purgatory; he appears and takes them into heaven. Michael shares with Raphael special healing duties, a function naturally associated with him as protector of the general welfare. (See descriptions of some of his apparitions below.) Michael was considered the great heavenly physician at Constantinople, and he is cred- ited with banishing a pestilence in Rome during the days of St. Gregory the Great. Michael has two feast days: May 8, which commem- orates the dedication of a basilica in honor of him on the Salarian Way about six miles outside of Rome; and September 29, known as Michaelmas. He is the patron saint of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police, and sickness. In Christian art, Michael is usually portrayed in warrior garb, holding a sword and scales and trampling Satan. Apparitions of Michael Numerous apparitions of Michael have been reported over the centuries, especially in the first millennium of Christianity as he supplanted pagan gods of protection, battle, and healing. These apparitions usually occurred on or near mountaintops or rocky outcrops, which became the sites of healing springs and miracles. Shrines, churches, and even great abbeys were built at these places and were dedicated to Michael. They have attracted countless pilgrims. Some of the most famous Michael sites and their legends are: M ICHAELION , C ONSTANTINOPLE The Michaelion church near Constantinople was built in the fifth century C . E . by the Emperor Constantine because of an apparition of Michael. At the command of Mary, Queen of the Angels, Michael came to the aid of Constantine in his battle against the pagan emperor Maxentius. Constantine built the church for Michael in gratitude. After its completion, Michael appeared there to the emperor and said, “I am Michael, the chief of the angelic legions of the Lord of hosts, the protector of the Christian religion, who while you were battling against godless tyrants, placed the weapons in your hands.” Miracles attributed to Michael have been reported at the Michaelion over the centuries. E USEBIOS , C ONSTANTINOPLE The church of Michael at Eusebios, Constantinople, acquired its importance from an apparition of Michael that occurred during the reign of Emperor Michael III (842–867) under the regency of his mother, Theodora. Since the use of icons had recently been restored in Byzantine worship (see IMAGES OF ANGELS ), the story may have served to help reestablish the importance of sacred images. The story concerns a candlemaker named Mar- cianus, who was a pious servant of the shrine of Michael. Marcianus was never ill. If he felt the slightest discomfort he would go into the church and immedi- ately recover. On one occasion when he felt poorly he went into the church but took with him a medicinal poultice because doctors had convinced him it was necessary to do so. As he slept that night in the shrine—a customary practice at healing centers—he had a terrible dream vision (see DREAMS AND VISIONS ). The doors of the church suddenly flew open and in rushed “a fearful man as out of the heaven, descending on a white and terrible steed.” The man dismounted and entered the church, escorted by men dressed in the garb of court officials. The church became filled with a strange unworldly odor. The mysterious man walked to where Marcianus lay on his cot. He examined him and asked Marcianus about the poultice. He demanded to know who had dared to bring such medicine into his house thus iden- tifying himself as the namesake of the shrine, Michael. Marcianus told him about the doctor who had insisted on the poultice and Michael ordered his assistants to find him. Michael then led Marcianus to an icon of himself, which had a lit candle and small dish of oil beside it. Michael dipped his finger in the oil and made the sign of the cross on Marcianus’s forehead. He then got back on his horse and rode off into the sky, the church doors closing by themselves behind him. The next morning, Marcianus had a cross on his forehead, which proved to the deacon the truth of his vision. The deacon learned that the offending doctor had become mysteriously and seriously ill during the night. Mar- cianus visited the doctor and then brought him on his bed into the church and told him to beg Michael for forgiveness and mercy. He then imitated his own heal- ing by dipping his finger in the icon oil and drawing a cross on the forehead of the doctor. The doctor was miraculously healed, thus establishing the model for successful healing. C HONAE , P HRYGIA , A SIA M INOR The most important center of Michael devotion in the Byzantine world developed in Phrygia in a syncretic mix of pagan, Jewish, and Christian angel cults popu- lar in the early centuries after Christ. The apostles Philip and John came to the town of Colossae (Chaire- topa) and prophesied the appearance of Michael there. Michael caused a medicinal spring to appear; any- one who bathed there and invoked the Blessed Trinity and Michael was said to be cured. The miracles, con- versions, and baptisms at the spring aroused the jeal- ousy of the pagan Hellenes. They gathered a mob and dammed two rivers to combine them. The waters were directed onto Colossae and the church at the spring. But Archippus, a God-fearing hermit who had settled at the spring when just a boy, heard the roaring waters and called upon Michael (the Archistrategos) for help. Michael appeared immediately in a clap of thunder, in the appearance of a pillar of fire reaching from earth to heaven. He told Archippus to leave before he is cov- ered by water. But the sight of the awesome angel caused the hermit to fall on the ground as though life- less. Michael then told him to stand firm and witness the power of God. He commanded the waters to stop, and they formed a wall as high as 10 persons. He struck the rock with his staff, which sounded like thunder and shook the entire land. The rock opened. Michael com- manded the water, “Funnel yourself into the funnel,” and the water funneled into the chasm. Thereafter, the town was called Chonae (“funnels”). Michael promised to guard the place, and the waters were sanc- tified forever. M ONTE G ARGANO , I TALY Apparitions of Michael appeared to the bishop of Siponto near Monte Gargano in Apulia, near Naples, Italy, during the reign of Pope Gelasius (492–496), leading to the establishment of a healing shrine. Ver- sions of the events, which resemble the Chonae story, date to the eighth and ninth centuries. One day a bull belonging to a wealthy man named Garganus became lost on a mountainside. After a long search, Garganus found it inside a cave. Irritated at the bull, he shot an arrow at it, but it turned in mid-air “as if breathed upon by the wind” and hit him instead. He went back to the town of Siponto and told the story. The bishop undertook a fast of three days and three nights to learn the cause of this mysterious event.Michael came to the bishop in a dream and said, “Let it be known to you that it occurred because I willed it. For I am the Archangel Michael, he who always stands in the presence of God. The bishop fasted a second time to be worthy of Michael’s aid and presence. He had a second vision. On the third night, Michael appeared in a dream and identified himself. He said he had intervened because he wished “to dwell in this place on earth and guard all.” The next day, the bishop and some towns- folk visited the mountain and found two doors cut into its face. In another dream, Michael told the bishop that the Sipontini and their allies, the Beneventi, would win in a war against their “heathen” enemies, the Neapoli- tans. The next day, the mountain was full of thunder, lightning, and darkness, which so frightened the Neapolitans that they fled. The locals went up to the doors in the side of the mountain and entered a cave where they found traces of the presence of Michael: “a small trace, as if the footstep of a man struck there in the marble.” A shrine was begun there and was called “the place of the footprints.” The shrine was completed after a visit by Michael to the bishop. The bishop was uncertain how to con- secrate the chapel and was told by Michael in another vision not to consecrate it at all. Michael told him, “I myself have put it in order and conse- crated it. You need only come and approach with your entreaties since I am attending as master in that place.” Michael told him to return the next day and he would show the townspeople how the place would guide them. The bishop did as instructed and found a chapel ready made and carved out of the living rock “as if by the hands of the archangel.” He knew the angel had made it because it was too irregular, rough, and full of corners and angles to have been made by human hands. A red cloak covered the altar. A spring erupted nearby and became known for its healing properties. The site attracted hordes of pilgrims. In the seventh century, the shrine was at a peak of popularity, due in part to a Lombard victory over the Saracens in 663 that was attributed to the help of Michael. According to lore, the Lombards, who went to the shrine to pay thanks for their victory, found the imprint of Michael’s foot near the south door of the temple. S T . M ICHAEL ’ S M OUNT , E NGLAND In 495 in Cornwall, England, fishermen saw Michael standing on a ledge of rock atop a small mount off the coast near Penzance. St. Michael’s Mount, as it became known, was already an important trading market and port. It took on new significance with its association with Michael and became a hallowed place. In the sixth century it was visited by St. Cadoc, one of the principal saints of Wales. According to legend, the saint needed water for his traveling party, and he struck his staff into the rock, whereupon water sprang forth. A Benedictine priory was built atop St. Michael’s Mount in 1135 by Bernard Le Bec. The community was enriched by the earls of Cornwall. But on September 11, 1275, an earthquake destroyed the church. It was rebuilt in the 14th century. Between 1349 and 1362, the religious community was nearly wiped out by the Black Plague. In 1649, the property passed into private hands, the St. Aubyn family. From the Middle Ages, St. Michael’s Mount was a favorite pilgrimage. Pilgrims came to seek answers to prayer, discharge vows, do penance, and seek healing. Many were spurred by the incentive that all those who came to St. Michael’s Mount with alms and oblations would receive an indulgence of one-third of their penance. The indulgence was credited to Pope Gregory VII, though probably it was a tradition started by the monks. A goal of many pilgrims was to prove their faith by sitting on “St. Michael’s chair,” a craggy spot with a precipitous drop to the sea. Monks built a stone lantern chair atop the church tower, not only to serve as a lighthouse but also perhaps as a more suitable sub- stitute for the unsafe outcropping. According to lore, the first of a married couple to sit on the chair will gain mastery in married life. Pilgrims also were attracted to the jawbone relic of Apollonia, a martyr and patron against toothaches. Many miracles of healing were reported at St. Michael’s Mount and credited to the intercession of Michael. The former priory is now a private residence, but much of the priory is open to public tours. The church is active and is free from episcopal jurisdiction. A stone pillar marks the spot where Michael appeared. When the tide is low, St. Michael’s Mount can be accessed on foot across a sand bar. M ONT S T . M ICHEL , F RANCE In France, a similar but grander Benedictine abbey was built on Mont St. Michel, a huge quasi-island rock 1 kilometer wide and 80 feet high, off the Normandy coast. Its isolation made it a natural locale for pagan cults and hermits. The story of Michael’s apparitions bears similarities to the Monte Gargano lore, and, in fact, it serves as a continuation of that story line. In 708, Michael appeared three times in dream visions to St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches (a nearby town), and instructed him to build a chapel there. The bishop did not believe Michael and asked him to prove his identity. The angel pushed his finger through the bishop’s skull. The bishop asked for more proof. Michael told him a stolen bull would be found at the top of the rock. It was, but still Aubert was skeptical. Michael told him to send two messen- gers to Monte Gargano, where they would be given the red cloak that Michael wore when he appeared there and had left upon the altar, as well as a frag- ment of the altar on which he had set his foot. The messengers were sent and they returned with the promised items. Convinced at last, Aubert founded an oratory. In 966 an abbey was founded there by Richard I, duke of Normandy. Construction of the church began in 1020 and was finished in 1136. By the 12th century, Mont St. Michel was called the “City of Books” and was a great center of learning. Many of the manu- scripts kept by the monks were lost during the French Revolution when the monks were expelled. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the abbey was used as a prison. Between 1155 and 1424, Mont St. Michel had juris- diction over St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. Access to the abbey was treacherous until the late 19th century. A slim land bridge connected the rock to the mainland. But travelers could be taken unawares by swift and terrible tides, and by constantly shifting quicksands. A causeway was built in 1879. Mont St. Michel is now one of France’s greatest tourist attractions. The spiraling road up to the abbey once walked by pilgrims is now lined on both sides by shops and restaurants. Inside the entrance to the abbey is a large marble frieze depicting Michael push- ing his finger through the skull of the dreaming Aubert. S PAIN In Spain, where the cult of Michael peaked in popular- ity in about the 13th century, one of the best-known apparitions is the 1455 appearance to a shepherd about halfway between Navagamella and Fresnedillas, in the foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama. The sighting was investigated in 1520, when some of the witnesses were still alive, and also in 1617.According to testimony, Michael appeared late one afternoon in 1455 on a holm-oak tree and a rockrose plant to shepherd Miguel Sanchez. Michael told the shepherd not to be frightened, but to tell others that a shrine should be erected on the site and a brotherhood founded, both in honor of the angelic messengers. Sanchez protested that no one would believe him, but Michael insisted that he tell his employer. “I will make them believe you so they build a shrine here to the holy angels,” he said. He then made an imprint of his hand on the tree. However, Sanchez did not tell the story. A few days passed, and one morning he awakened crippled. His legs were folded in a bizarre manner so that the backs of his calves touched his thighs and his heels touched his buttocks. His employer, Pedro Garcia de Ayuso, tried unsuccessfully to cure him with herbs and oils. At last Sanchez told of his vision. Garcia de Ayuso con- sulted with authorities, and they carried the shepherd to the site of the apparition. There they found the handprint on the tree trunk. It was considered proof, and plans were made immediately for construction of a chapel. A mass was said there for the shepherd’s health; when it was completed, he was cured and he stood up. Sanchez was named keeper of the shrine. Michael in Muslim Lore The Muslims relate that the angels Gabriel, Michael, Israfil, and Azrael bring dust from the four corners of the world, and with it Allah creates the body of Adam; to form his head and heart, however, Allah chooses dust from a site at Mecca, where the Holy Ka’aba later rises. Mecca is the navel of the earth for Muslims, as Mount Moriah is for the Hebrews, and Delphi for the Greeks. Michael’s wings are emerald green and covered with saffron hairs. Each hair contains a million faces who speak a million dialects, all imploring the pardon of Allah. When Michael cries over the sins of the faithful, his tears create CHERUBIM.

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