Although Scripture mentions the archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel as among “the seven angels,” it doesn’t name the other four. Nor should we.
The passage from Tobit then begs the question, “If Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are three of the archangels, what are the names of the other four?”
This question has been taken up by various branches of Christianity, who often turn to the Book of Enoch, an ancient Jewish writing that is not accepted as canonical in either in the Hebrew Scriptures or the Catholic Bible.
Enoch lists seven archangels: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Phanuel, and Sariel. The name Uriel also appears in 2 Esdras, another Jewish text that is not included in the official canon of scripture, but is accepted by some Orthodox Churches. Uriel is sometimes even depicted in icons or the stained glass windows of Christian churches.
The fact that some branches of Christianity accept these extra-biblical names can often lead to confusion. The Catholic Church has been very clear about this issue and states in the Directory on popular piety, “The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael, whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.”
This has been affirmed by various Church councils in the past.
Essentially, as Catholics we only know for certain three names of God’s angels. Any other name is “suspect” because it is not part of divine revelation. We do not know if the name Uriel is inspired by God, a human invention, or the name of a malevolent spirit.
This is important to remember, as there exists a popular type of “angel worship” whose adherents compose prayers to these specific angels and invite them into their lives. Various occult traditions list “names” of countless other angels. Invoking these names is an extremely dangerous pathway to open, since other spiritual beings (much less friendly than the archangels) may come instead. Keep in mind that the demons are fallen angels.
There is much in the spirit world that we do not know (such as the names of the other four archangels), and that is okay. The Church asks us to abide by what we do know, and in that way we can stay faithful to God and the message he gave us in the Bible.
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?