Why do we Call Angels “Saint”?

Q. I noticed that we call the angels Michael and Gabriel "Saint." I thought the title "Saint" was only given to humans who have proven themselves Godly. Do you mind clarifying this for me? Is there a deeper meaning to "Saint" that I am not aware of?

-S.L.

A. There are a lot of concepts in English that have two or more words to describe them. Often this is because one word comes from Old English, while the other entered in through French, after the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Our language absorbed a lot of these French words, but didn't always do away with the original English words. Over time, some of these synonyms took on different shades of meaning; so for instance, we "eat pork" but we "heard swine."

The word saint and the word holy are both translated from the same Greek word, ἅγιος (hagios). So when we chant the Trisagion hymn "Ἅγιος ὁ Θεός..." we translate that into English as "Holy God..." and when we refer to "Ἅγιος Θεοδόσιος" we translate it into English as Saint Theodosios.

For this reason, we can give the title Saint to the angels, because they are holy. In fact, the name Michael in Hebrew means, "Who is like God."

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Orthodox Awareness

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