by Eliza Allen Starr, 1899
And Michael . . . leads his host against Lucifer, and Saint John tells us, in his Apocalypse, there "was a great battle in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with Lucifer and his angels; but these last prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven." Lucifer was cast forth, and with him his angels; and hell sprang into being by the same creative word which had called forth, to bliss, the angelic hosts; while, as a reward for their fidelity, Michael and his angels, having used their free-will on the side of God, were confirmed by Him in their perfection, to be thenceforth incapable of sin . . . . pages 18-19
Mary was versed in the prophecies of her people, and with the sound of Gabriel's voice must have come to her an echo of that awful sentence which had so often arrested her thought as she read: "The Christ shall be slain, and the people that shall deny Him shall not be His." And we recall this too, of Gabriel, rightly named the Strength of God, for we see it in every line of that powerful figure in its wonderful drapery. The Mother who is to lay her Babe in the manger, who is to flee with Him into Egypt, is to stand for three hours beneath His cross, is before Him; and Gabriel says to her, "Fear not, Mary of His kingdom there shall be no end:--the promise given so as to come back to her in her hour of desolation . . . . page 44-45
The Angel of the Probatica is understood to be the Angel Raphael, as the Healing Angel, his name signifying, strictly, the "Medicine of God"; and it is under this aspect that he is regarded as the patron of physicians--of all who practice the benevolent healing art; while this is emphasized in all its lovely circumstances by the narrative of Tobias . . . . . page 54-55St. Raphael is recognized as the "Prince of the Guardian Angels."
Thus from Abraham to the Gospels, and in the very words of our Lord Himself, through narrative, prophecy, psalm, comes the same gentle but strong assurance of those guardian spirits given to us by Almighty God, Our Creator and theirs, to be our protectors amid all the dangers of this mortal life,--an assurance which, like some tender chord running through an oratorio, a symphony, is heard amid the tremors of apprehension, the crash of calamity, the wail of anguish, strengthening the courage for endurance, reviving hope, saving from despair. . . . page 64
Lingering, as we cannot help doing, over these delineations of angels and archangels which we have cited, embodying the tradition, belief, sentiment, of more than six thousand years at the hands of Christian artists from the first age of Christianity to this last year of our present century, can we not say with truth that art has been faithful to her trust?--taking her part in Christian civilization not merely as an adornment, but as a mighty factor in the lifting of the intellect, the heart, the imagination of the world: a veritable bulwark of dogma by the testimony given from age to age through its monuments, as well as a never-failing incentive to devotion; inspiring us to unite our voices with that of the Church in her choirs; "Bless the Lord, all ye His angels; ye that are mighty in strength and execute His word, hearkening to the voice of His orders. Bless the Lord, all ye His hosts, ye ministers that do His will. O my soul, bless thou the Lord!". . . . pages 76-77
*** The main image for this page is from the six panel altar piece of Pietro Perugino commissioned for the Charterhouse of Pavia, a Carthusian monastery patronized by the Duke of Milan in 1499. Left panel: St. Michael, commander of the celestial host who vanquished Lucifer. Middle panel: God the Father at the top, with on either side the Archangel Gabriel and the Virgin of the Annunciation. Right panel: St. Raphael, "Prince of the Guardian Angels," depicted with the young Tobias.Download the book, "The Three Archangels and the Guardian Angels in Art"
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