Orthodox icon | Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers | 24764

Russian icon

35.5 x 31 cm | 14 x 12.2 in

19th century

Antike original russische Ikone aus dem 19. Jahrhundert.


Saint Michael the Archangel with Gabriel and Rafael holding the disc with Christ Immanuel (“God with us”). Above the angels and below a cherub and a seraph.

Saint Archangel Michael (Hebrew, “Who is like God”) is, when it matters and God wants it, the supreme warlord of all angels, the “standard bearer of Christ”, as the Legenda Aurea writes. Given the constant turmoil in the world, he also has the most to do to ensure peace and quiet. As a precaution, God gave him the keys to heaven. But his protectorships do not end there: as in the old covenant advocates of Israel, so in the new covenant of all Christianity. Michael is the angel of judgment, but also of justice. He guides the souls of the deceased and weighs them on the soul scales; Michael (like Saint George) fights the dragon, this epitome of barbarism and paganism. The range of his patrons can be measured if he can also appear as stable master of the holy horse herdsmen Flor and Lavr. The veneration of Michael can be traced back to the 4th century in Asia Minor (Phrygia), where it was concentrated on the place Chonae.

According to the Legenda Aurea, Rafael (Hebrew, “God has healed”) belongs to the angels “who have the power to force everything that is repulsive”. The effectiveness of Rafael is closest to the touching story of Tobias and Sara in the book of Tobias (or Tobit Rafael is rarely portrayed alone, but mostly only with other archangels. Cross and walking staff are his emblems.

Gabriel (Hebrew, “a strong man of God”) is portrayed as an interpreter and interpreter of the vision of the prophet. In the New Covenant he is the God-authorized messenger who proclaims the birth of Christ to Mary and Zacharias the birth of the forerunner John in the temple. Gabriel also plays an important role in Islam: he brought the revelation and commands of Allah to Mohammed.

It is understandable that the desire arose for a celebration (synaxis) that would summarize the worship of the angelic powers. In a practical way, the Church has set two feast days for this: November 8 for Archangel Michael and “all incorporeal powers” and March 26 for Archangel Gabriel and “all incorporeal powers”.

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