St. Michael & Gabriel Day
Topics covered in this section:
- St. Archangel Michael
- Defeats Fallen Angels
- Stands at Person's Deathbed
- Married to Stăncuţa
- She was Evil Wife
- Why Death is Blind
- Comuna Stăncuţa
- Servant of the Devil
- Peter Recruits Michael
- Michael's Low Self-Esteem
- God Traps the Devil
- St. Ilie Intervenes
- Now at Right Hand of God
- Recovers Sun and Moon
- Controls Mistress of Hell
- Patron of Gypsies
- Grants Children's Wishes
- Carries Prayers to God
- Michael at Final Battle
- St. Archangel Gabriel
- St. Archangel Michael
- Pronunciation Help
In Romanian tradition, the archangels Michael and Gabriel are both archangels and saints. Thus, they are always referred to as Saint Archangel Michael (Mihail) and Saint Archangel Gabriel (Gavril). They are different than traditional saints, however, who are canonized after they have passed away.
In Byzantine iconography, Michael and Gabriel are warrior angels with beautiful wings and who carry warrior swords to differentiate them from regular angels.
When people die, they are escorted by these two archangels to either Heaven or Hell, according to the person's earthly conduct.
Paradoxically, theologically the two archangels are placed among the third class of angels. However, popular tradition has always considered these two angels to be the lawful leaders of the spirit world.
St. Archangel Michael
Of the two archangels, St. Michael is by far the more popular in Romanian traditions. [He is also much more popular in Western Europe and in the rest of world.]
Orthodox iconography depicts him as a soldier, holding a sword pointed toward the ground.
Defeats Fallen Angels
Long before the Earth was populated, Archangel Michael was the first of the guardian angels who fought against those angels who had rebelled against God. Since Michael defeated the rebels, they were cast into Hell, becoming fallen angels.
Stands at Person's Deathbed
When someone is on their deathbed, St. Michael will stand at the person's head if they are supposed to die, but will stand at their feet if they are supposed to survive. He stands there in order to make it easier for the soul to leave the body.
Because of his deathbed duties, St. Michael is seldom in Heaven. However, St. Michael always spends time in Heaven on Great Friday and Easter. For that reason, those two holidays are not good days to die.
Married to Stăncuţa
In one legend, Michael was originally an ordinary man, married to a beautiful young woman named Stăncuţa.
She was Evil Wife
Shortly after the wedding, the girl gradually matured into an evil woman. Nonetheless, Michael stayed with her until the bitter end. For having tolerated her for such a long time, God made him a saint.
Why Death is Blind
That same legend tells how during one particularly brutal fight, Stăncuţa caused Michael to lose one eye. And that's why death is blind, taking the souls of both young and old alike.
Today there is a comuna (town) named Stăncuţa in the county (judeţul) of Brăila.
Servant of the Devil
In another legend, Michael was originally an unwilling servant of the Devil.
Peter Recruits Michael
The Apostle Peter tried on several occasions to convince Michael to come over to God's side.
Michael's Low Self-Esteem
But Michael had very low self esteem and he didn't consider himself worthy enough to be on God's team.
God Traps the Devil
One day, however, Michael got his chance to escape from his servitude to the Devil. On that day, the Devil was taking a bath at a lake and Michael was standing on the shore, waiting for his orders.
God immediately froze the lake, trapping the Devil in the ice. Seizing this opportunity, Michael attempted to flee. But the Devil, now furious, broke through the ice and tried to recapture Michael.
St. Ilie Intervenes
Michael might have been caught, too, if it hadn't been for the intervention of St. Ilie, who commands thunder and lightning. As the Devil shrank back from the barrage of lightning unleashed on him by St. Ilie, Michael managed to escape.
Now at Right Hand of God
After his escape from the Devil, Michael became an archangel and was placed at the right hand of God. He became the first saint.
Recovers Sun and Moon
Every night the Devil's minions steal the Sun and every day they steal the Moon. But each time they are stolen St. Archangel Michael attacks the thieves and rescues both the Sun and the Moon from their clutches.
We know that St. Archangel Michael has successfully recovered them because we can see the Sun and Moon reappear in the sky every day. When they fail to appear...
Controls Mistress of Hell
Mamarca, the mistress of Hell, would love to inundate the earth with all the frost at once. But St. Archangel Michael prevents her from doing as she wishes, forcing her to send it slowly instead.
Patron of Gypsies
St. Archangel Michael is the patron of the Gypsies (or, as the Romanians spell it, gipsies). Thus, people should use proper caution when they berate the Gypsies since they have an extremely powerful protector.
Grants Children's Wishes
St. Archangel Michael grants children their wishes if they are appropriate.
Carries Prayers to God
St. Archangel Michael carries the prayers of believers to the Heavenly Father.
Michael at Final Battle
At the end of the world, St. Archangel Michael will engage the Devil in battle.
St. Archangel Gabriel
Tradition and legend tell us far less about St. Archangel Gabriel.
Messenger of Good News
Archangel Gabriel is considered the messenger of good news. Orthodox iconography depicts him holding a white lily in his hand.
Some of his more notable messages of good news are mentioned in the Bible. He announced the conception of (Virgin) Mary to her parents Joachim and Ann. He announced the conception of Jesus to Virgin Mary. He also announced the conception of John the Baptist to Martha.
Like St. Haralambie, St. Gabriel commands the plague.
Summer of the Archangels
In Transylvania the few days surrounding this celebration are known as the Summer of the Archangels because of the brief period of good weather that often appears at this time of the year.
Alms for the Dead
On the Saturday before this celebration, gifts are prepared and presented to the dead.
Candles for Afterlife
People are instructed to light candles on this day because it will be these very candles that will in the future light their own way in the afterlife.
Avoid Painful Death
If you are foolish enough to work on this day, you will suffer great pain before your death.
Shepherds prepare a special bread called "rams' bread." They then toss the bread into the middle of their flock. If the bread lands with its face up, the sheep will be healthy and the ewes will bring forth healthy lambs.
Romanian custom says that you have two personal holidays (in addition to the many public holidays). They are your birthday and your name day, the latter being on the day of the saint after whom you are named. Those who are not named after a saint do not have a name day.
There are about 500,000 Romanians named after Michael (Mihai, Mihaela, and derivatives) and after Gabriel (Gavril, Gabriel, Gabriela, and derivatives). Thus, this is an extremely popular name day.
To help American readers, the following pronunciation guide to Romanian words used above is provided. The sounds shown are only approximations, however.
- Brăila. (Braila) Bruh-eel-ah.
- Comuna. Koh-moon-ah.
- Gabriel. Gahb-reh-ehl.
- Gabriela. Gahb-reh-ehl-ah.
- Gavril. Gahv-reel.
- Judeţul. (Judetul) Zhoo-deht-sool.
- Mamarca. Mah-mahr-kah.
- Mihaela. Mee-hay-lah.
- Mihai. Mee-high.
- Mihail. Mee-highl.
- Stăncuţa. (Stancuta) Stuhn-koot-sah.