Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Four Archangels

Walking into the small chapel of Agion Akindinon, in the city of Mytilene, on the island of Lesvos, located next to the largest Orthodox Church on the island (St Therapon), the visitor comes across a unique feature, i.e. the icons of four Archangels. There we see Archangels Michael, Raphael, Uriel and Gabriel. These angels are interestingly placed underneath the dome, showing that they are supporting the dome, i.e. the Heavens. This depiction symbolically emphasises the importance of the angels in the work of God towards creation, a reality also evident in Scripture and Tradition.

The Archangels are one of nine ranks, made up of three hierarchies with three ranks each. This reality was first explained by St Dionysius the Aeropagite, who was one of the Seventy Apostles, in his work On the Heavenly Hierarchy. The Archangels bring us good news, revealing prophecies, knowledge and understanding of God’s will. They strengthen our faith, reveal the mysteries of the Heavenly Kingdom and God’s wishes, whilst also enlightening our minds. St Paul refers to them, in 1 Thessalonians, where he states: For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (4:16).

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