Introduction to the Angels
Since ancient times the Angels have been venerated with great respect. With the rise of New Age and Occultism comes an urgent need to understand these celestial benefactors in the light of our Catholic faith and tradition.
Angels are pure spirits, sinless servants of God. "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?" Heb. 1:13-14. The Angels are comprised of 9 choirs; Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Powers, Virtues, Principalities, Archangels and Angels. Particularly powerful are the 7 great Archangels spoken of in Apoc VIII:2 "And I saw 7 Angels standing in the presence of God".
When Luciel (Bearer of Light) rebelled against God and became Lucifer (Prince of Darkness) one entire choir of angels followed him and was lost. Many angels from other choirs also followed him in his rebellion. "And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought, and his angels: And they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and satan, who seduceth the whole world; and he was cast unto the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." Apoc 12:7-9
7 angels from the second lowest choir were so outraged by the terrible offense to the dignity of the Most High they positioned themselves between the Throne of God and the infernal offenders, prepared to defend the honor and dignity of God, in spite of their inferiority to Lucifer and his legions. God was so moved by their heroic love he elevated them, enriching them with many new gifts and graces. So lofty was their new office that they were given the privilege of standing eternally before the Throne of God to carry out the Divine Will. "And from the throne proceeded lightnings and voices and thunders; and there were seven lamps burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God." Apoc 4:5. "Bless the Lord all ye His angels: you that are mighty in strength and execute His word, hearkening to the voice of His orders." Ps 102:20
The names of the 3 most commonly invoked Archangels, St. Michael, St. Raphael and St. Gabriel are found in Sacred Scripture. Unlike sects tied to a Bible-only understanding of God and creation we have sacred tradition, the writings of the saints and private revelation to expand our understanding and enlighten us.
In 1050 St. Celias made an exhaustive study of the approved writings of the Early Church Fathers up to the 4th century. In this way we have come to know the names of all 7 of these mighty Archangels, the meaning of their names and the sacrament each is patron of.
Since the 4th century these 7 Archangels have been honored in the Roman Martyrology. In Mettenheim Bavaria is the Catholic Church dedicated to the Seven Great Archangels. It is now over 250 years old. On the 18th of October 1720, this church was dedicated. Each of the 7 Archangels was mentioned by name in the consecration prayer by Rev. Franz Wagensberg, Bishop of Salzberg. Inside the church are 7 altars, each dedicated to one of the Archangels with a statue of the Archangel it was dedicated to. The dedication by a legitimate Catholic Bishop is additional proof of the correctness of the names and an encouragement to active devotion to these angels!
Pope Pius V said in his Bull to the Spanish Clergy, permitting and encouraging the worship of the seven archangels: "One cannot exalt too much these seven rectors of the world, figured by the seven planets, as it is consoling to our century to witness by the grace of God the cult of these seven ardent lights, and of these seven stars reassuming all its luster in the Christian republic." (Les Sept Esprits et l'Histoire de leur Culte; De Mirville's 2nd memoir addressed to the academy. Vol. II. p. 358.)
Michelangelo was ordered to adorn the church dedicated to Mary and the Seven Archangels, with a fresco of 7 Archangels on the altar, in Rome in the 16th century. In addition, the liturgy to Seven Archangels has been confirmed and was still in use around 1800 and has not been abolished, only it is not being practiced.
Below is the fresco of Mary amidst the Seven Archangels, in St Maria Degli Angeli in Rome from the web page: http://www.santamariadegliangeliroma.it.
Originally, during the reign of Pope Gregor XIII it was intended to build seven separate chapels there, dedicated to each of the Seven Archangels.