There are only three Holy Angels in Scripture who are known by name: St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael. Although the Church highly encourages popular devotion to the Holy Angels the Directory of Popular Piety and the Liturgy warns; “The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture” (218).
St. Michael is “one of the chief princes” of the angels (Daniel 10:12-14; 12:1-3) and is called an archangel (Jude1:9) and is the one who successfully battles Satan with his army and casts him out of Heaven (Rev 12:7). He is known as the Heavenly Defender.
St. Gabriel is messenger appearing to tell the good news. St. Gabriel first appears in Daniel 8 to bring understanding of the vision given to Daniel. In the New Testament it is Gabriel who announces the coming of John the Baptist to Zechariah;
“I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news” (Luke 1:19).
He is also the one privileged to deliver the message of the annunciation to the Virgin Mary in Luke 1:26-38.
St. Raphael appears as an “undercover” angel in the book of Tobit. He appears as friend and healer.
The writer of Tobit tells us;
So Raphael was sent to heal them both: to remove the white scales from Tobit’s eyes, so that he might again see with his own eyes God’s light; and to give Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, as a wife to Tobiah, the son of Tobit, and to rid her of the wicked demon Asmodeus. (Tobit 3:17)
Later in the story after accomplishing these deeds Raphael declares; “I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand and serve before the Glory of the Lord.” (Tobit 12:15).
The Church celebrates its devotion to the Archangels Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, and St. Raphael on their feast day September 29th.
© Scott McKellar 2012
(this is an edited version of a talk given at the Granfalloon, Kansas City, MO 02/15/2012 in the presence of 70 or so guardian angels )