An angel (from the Greek ἄγγελος - aggelos) is a supernatural being or spirit, usually humanoid in form, found in various religions and mythologies. The theological study of angels is known as "angelology". In Zoroastrianism and Abrahamic religions they are often depicted as benevolent celestial beings who act as intermediaries between Heaven and Earth, or as guardian spirits or a guiding influence.
The term "angel" has also been expanded to various notions of spirits found in many other religious traditions. Other roles of angels include protecting and guiding human beings, and carrying out God's tasks. In art, angels are often depicted with wings on their back, robes, a halo of light, and various forms of glowing light.
An archangel ( /ˌɑrkˈeɪndʒəl/) is an angel of high rank. Beings similar to archangels are found in a number of religious traditions; but the word "archangel" itself is usually associated with the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Michael and Gabriel are recognized as archangels in Judaism, Islam, and by most Christians. The Book of Tobit—recognized in the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles, [apocryphal text according to Protestants] —mentions Raphael, who is also considered to be an archangel.
The archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are venerated in the Roman Catholic Church with a feast on September 29 (between 1921 and 1969 March 24 for Gabriel and 24 October for Raphael) and in Orthodox on November 21.
Jewish literature such as the Book of Enoch mentions Metatron as an archangel, called the "highest of the angels" and the "heavenly scribe", though acceptance of this angel is not canonical in all branches of the faith.
In Zoroastrianism, sacred texts allude to the six great Amesha Spenta (literally "divine sparks of fire") of Ahura Mazda.
Some branches of the faiths mentioned have identified a group of seven Archangels, but the actual angels vary, depending on the source. Raphael, Gabriel, and Michael are always mentioned; the other archangels vary, but most commonly include Uriel as well, who is mentioned in the book 2 Esdras.
Most archangels are considered to be good angels. But according to Judaism and Christianity, Satan, sometimes called Lucifer, is also considered as an archangel, but he fell out of God's grace somehow and is considered evil. Christianity and Judaism consider the devil to be leading other fallen angels against God in the War in Heaven in the traditions in which such a concept exists.
The word archangel is derived from the Greek ἀρχάγγελος (arch- + angel, literally chief angel).