Anna the Prophet vs. Michael the Archangel

A day after voting between two saints with elegant names, we're back to more mundane monikers. Anna and Michael. There is nothing mundane about these two contestants, however, as prophet faces archangel in a matchup you will only find here at Lent Madness. Is it fair to put an angel in the bracket against a mere mortal? We're not sure. But as the familiar expression goes, "All's fair in love and Lent Madness."

Speaking of those elegantly named saints, Eglantyne Jebb easily defeated Seraphim of Sarov 73% to 27% to advance to the Saintly Sixteen.

Today is the last battle of a full week of saintly thrills and spills. We'll see everyone bright and early on Monday morning with an exciting agricultural matchup between Isidore the Farmer and Phocus the Gardener. TGIL, everybody! (Thank God It's Lent).

Anna the Prophet

Anna the Prophet stained glassLike many women in the Bible, Anna doesn’t have a lot of scriptural context to sketch a complete biography. However, the simple fact that Anna is given a name and title speaks to the importance of this woman. Known as Anna the Prophet, she is recognized as the widow who was with Simeon in the temple when Jesus was presented by Mary and Joseph shortly after his birth.

Saint Luke (2:36–38) tells us: “There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

As a Jewish prophet, Anna led a life of devotion to God through daily prayer, worship, and work at the temple. Anna is honored as a saint for her recognition of Christ as the Messiah during his presentation in the temple. Both Simeon and Anna were transformed by their encounter with Jesus, which led to the creation of the Song of Simeon that we sing to this day. Also known as the Nunc Dimittis, the Song of Simeon is a traditional canticle often used in Compline and Evensong.

Although we don’t know much about the details of her life, Anna’s presence and witness offer several important lessons. She teaches us about the importance of prayer and fasting to prepare for the coming of our Lord. She models for us the importance of patience, since much of a faithful life is spent waiting. Her diligence assures us that the practices of prayer, fasting, preparation, and patience will give us a reward far greater than anything we can imagine. Anna teaches us that our faithful practices allow us to participate in the coming of Christ.

Anna’s feast day is celebrated on February 3.

Collect for Anna the Prophet
Almighty and life-giving God, we give thanks for the witness of Anna the Prophet who recognized our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ during his presentation in the temple. We give thanks, O Lord, for the teachings of Anna that show us the path to glory can be found through prayer, fasting, preparation, and patience; in Christ’s name. Amen.

-Anna Fitch Courie

Michael the Archangel

Michael the ArchangelThe word angel means messenger from God. Archangels are considered the chief angels in the hierarchy of angels, although most of this hierarchy is human construct. The full name of Michael translates to “Who is like God?”—an obviously rhetorical question. Michael is mentioned in the holy texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Michael is described in the Bible as a helper and defender of God’s holy people, the one who cares for the dead (Michael even argues with the devil over Moses’ body in the book of Jude). Most notably, Michael is portrayed as fighting and defeating the dragon in the Book of Revelation. Michael is frequently depicted as a warrior angel, holding a sword and a shield and standing astride a defeated and subdued dragon.

While Michael has been invoked in prayer through the centuries as the defender and protector of the people of God, the warrior image is a more modern concept. In the early centuries of Christianity, the faithful venerated Michael as a defender and protector, not through violence and war but through healing. Churches, shrines, and holy places dedicated to Michael began appearing in the fourth century as places of healing. Many of these holy places were built around hot springs in Greece and Asia. Michael’s protection extended from life to death, as Michael guarded the souls of the dead against evil and guided them to God as they came into the kingdom of heaven.

Only as Christianity became associated with political and military might did the image of Michael shift to an archangel clad in armor and leading armies in the name of Christ. By the Middle Ages, Michael and George became the patron saints of chivalry, a code of conduct associated with knighthood and military service.

Michael is given credit for redirecting a river to save a church; standing with a sword over the tomb of Hadrian, thus protecting Rome from a devastating plague under the papacy of Gregory the Great; and appearing to the Bishop of Avranches in 708 with directions to build a church on the rocky islet now known as Mont Saint-Michel in France. Michael is also considered to be the domesticator of horses; legend holds that Michael taught Saint Florus and Saint Laurus to listen to the language of horses so they could be helpers to humanity.

Collect for Michael the Archangel
Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

-Laurie Brock

Anna the Prophet vs. Michael the Archangel

  • Michael the Archangel (53%, 4,109 Votes)
  • Anna the Prophet (47%, 3,661 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,770

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Anna the Prophet: By Wolfgang Sauber (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)
Michael the Archangel: By Anonymous Byzantine painter (395-1453 AD) Public domain image (http://all-photo.ru/icon/photos/10227-0.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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303 comments on “Anna the Prophet vs. Michael the Archangel”

  1. Michael the Archangel will win because he is an Archangel. He also defeated a dragon. He has my vote.

    1. In the Orthodox tradition he is also known as the Prince of Heaven and Vanquisher of Hell.

  2. Cannot understand putting an angelic being up against a blood and flesh saint. Is that fair? Just kidding. Of course I voted for Anna!

    1. One of my life rules is "Life isnt fair." (Or the fair comes only once a year.)

      1. Life is definitely unfair, but surely we ought to be. Well, more than fair, we ought to be just, especially if we want to be saints too!

    2. This was a tough one as Michael the Archangel is a figure I have always admired (that sounds so weird) but I went with Anna because she foresaw the goodness and holiness in the Christ Child.

    3. I don't understand how Michael is even eligible. He's great, but he's an archangel, not a saint! We can have another contest for angels. And Anna is someone worthy of a vote in any case.

    4. Michael is an archangel, and Anna has a verrrrrry thin biography - hard to vote for either. Went with Anna simple based on her being a human being.

  3. This was a tough one! In the end i went with Michael, mostly for his many different attributes. But Anna, in her patience and perception! Sigh. Whomever wins, I'll be grateful.

        1. Nor was I. I did end up voting for Michael but because I believe God created the Angels as his first Beings and therefore must have loved them very, very much.........and Michael stayed true to God and not jealous or demanding more status as did Lucifer. I feel pretty sure that Michael probably defended the Kingdom of God . So, it was Michael. Anna sounded like a good woman but if she never left the temple did she require others to meet her needs of food, clothing, etc? Recognizing the Child Jesus as the Savior was a gift to her, I believe... not something she simply knew??

          1. It's my understanding that it was incumbent on the Jewish community to protect and provide for Anna. As a widow, what options did she have in first-century Palestine? She apparently had neither children nor other family, and she could hardly get a job, elderly and female as she was. Ministry to the widows and orphans is something that was carried over into the nascent Christian community from Judaism, and the administration of that care gave Christians their first big internal controversy. (Acts 6:1-6)

          2. Love your post. I was already planning to vote for Michael for much the same reasons you wrote so eloquently. I won't repeat my version - your comments are great. Thank you!

    1. I was wondering the same thing. Also, Anna's always been a "favorite" & I now think it's because I still have a lot to learn about patience and prayer.

    2. I also feel that since angels are totally different beings that they should not be pitted against human saints. I had a tough time deciding who to vote for, but ended up going for Anna since she is human.

    3. There is a rich history in Christianity going back centuries of angels being saints.
      So, yes 🙂

        1. Polly, that was the perfect response! The "cradle Episcopalians" in my congregation love that hymn...it always makes me smile a bit. An update might be "in Ubers, on Twitter, or over latte."

          1. This cradle Catholic was wondering about that reference. However the concept of meeting angels everywhere and anywhere is lovely!

      1. I hope I can meet angels in those places and other places. I don’t limit angelic appearances to needed big feathery wings. After all, there are those strangers whom we should treat hospitably lest they be angels unaware.

    4. Well, our pro-cathedral in Boise is St. Michael's. The cathedral church in Coventry, England is St. Michael's. So, the church through the ages would answer "Yes."
      But, tbh, the one in Boise was named in honor of an early rector.

  4. I have long loved Anna, so devoted to her faith, and she knew immediately that she was in the presence of the Messiah!

  5. He fought and defeated the dragon in Revelation.
    That should be enough.
    #Michael4Michael

    1. Not so fast there, Michael...
      Anna saw and knew Jesus. Now THAT is enough!

      XOXO

    1. Way back on the first match-up, I went with Peter, even though St. Paul is my church's patron!

  6. Seems unfair to pit an Archangel against a mortal, so I will go with Anne, whose words are lost to us while we have Simeon's.

      1. Oops! Keyboard fights with me ... does NOT sway me. Does Michael have control of keyboards?

        1. Also, this article says that "The Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church commemorate Anna as a saint, Anna the Prophetess. " The rule, I believe, is that those chosen for Lent Madness must be celebrated on at least one calendar (not necessarily the Episcopal Church or an Anglican church).

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_the_Prophetess

          1. Perhaps so, but the one George defeated (slew) was just another dragon, and the one Michael defeated was supposedly Satan. (Unfortunately, he didn't stay defeated for long, but got right back to work. Is there a theological message here I'm missing?)

          2. Michael's battle with Satan was actually a battle with Lucifer Morningstar. It was Michael's victory that banished Lucifer from Heaven. Only then did Lucifer "become" Satan, take dominion over hell, and "get to work" corrupting the souls of man. So, Satan didn't "get right back to work." He ...um..."changed his line of work"? Of course, SFAIK, *none* of this is actually scriptural. 😀

  7. I believe in and appreciate guardian angels, but I do not believe they are saints. Saintly, maybe. but to me, saints are by definition human. I voted for Anna.

    1. I felt similarly. I likely don’t know all the “details” of angels, but Anna being fully human I think makes it more challenging to be a saint and more inspirational

    2. Anna didn't get a song like Simeon, it's true; but "At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem." (Luke 2:38) So maybe she was really the first apostle??!!

      I'm so bummed by this choice. I have always loved Anna for her faithful, prayerful persistence and for perceiving the Christ Child when he appeared, and I have friends who are members of the Society of St. Anna the Prophet. But when my son-in-law was grievously injured in a bicycle-car accident, and I wondered how to pray for the healing he needed, it was Michael who appeared to me, all aglow with vibrant kinetic energy in the very part of his body where Ben was most injured. I'm sure he is a protector and guardian and healer. No notion yet who will get my vote, but I'll be okay with either as winner and sorry the other one didn't win!

    3. My feelings as well. "Anna teaches us that our faithful practices allow us to participate in the coming of Christ." Something to aspire to and work toward.

  8. Anna recognized the Messiah. Would that we all would follow her example and continually recognize the Messiah in our lives.

  9. We need Michael today, to defend the downtrodden and to find common ground between the three major religions that respect him.

    1. Amen Sister! While Anna may only have a few verses that for me says it all about her importance in recognizing our Savor. Now in my mid to late 60's I truly value the wisdom of older and wiser women in my life who have always mentored me.

      1. I had to go with Michael because when my dad was five years old he looked out his window and saw two golden angels descending from the clouds. He said they were kind of spiraling down. The next morning he woke up and rushed to tell his mom. Before he could tell her though, she said she had something she had to tell him first. His grandmother (who was living with them at the time) had died that night. He believes that he saw the angels coming to get her.

      2. Anna is probably a construct invented by Luke, so "existence" didn't factor into this vote for me. I went with Michael.

    2. Right on!
      My own name is Ann, I'm old, and I'm a Benedictine oblate. Benedictine's strive for faithfulness and patience. The choice was easy !

    3. Exactly! That is how I made my decision as well. While I am grateful for the healing presence of Michael, Anna's patience and devotion are truly heroic sacrifices and gifts from a mere mortal.

  10. I pre-filled my bracket. Been getting few wins. But finally here is one where I picked the woman. So if trends hold I should be ok. Archangel? seems and unfair fight to me.

  11. I was ordained on the feast of St. Michael and all Angels so there's an affinity there, but Anna is a sign of God's wisdom in the humble. I have always loved her faithfulness and confident proclamation of the Messiah. Mere mortal that she was, I had to go with Anna!

  12. Actually, God as warrior is not a “more modern” concept, but rather is present in ancient Judaism. I can provide citations if desired.

    1. That bit wasn't about God, it was about Michael: "While Michael has been invoked in prayer through the centuries as the defender and protector of the people of God, the warrior image is a more modern concept. In the early centuries of Christianity, the faithful venerated Michael as a defender and protector, not through violence and war but through healing."

      1. The healing part of Michael's ministry (and I do think angelic work is a ministry) sealed it for my vote.

    1. We only know about one day of Anna's life. We don't know what she got up to the rest of her long days!

    2. Right. And just think how awesome the dragon would be on that LM mug!! Plus when you invoke St. Michael, don't you you usually get All the Angels coming along? I think I'll go with Michael for the mug.

  13. I am a Michael too. But today I went with Anna. I love the Song of Simeon, one of my favorite prayers. And Anna's faithfulness is a real example. Her patience, and her ability to recognize Jesus as Messiah is so compelling.
    Love you Michael, but it's Anna today.

    1. Ooh, but you are right, too. Poor Anna got cheated out of a song. You'd think if they gave one to Simeon....And then look at all Michael has been given: a flaming sword, a dragon to slay, and all the company of heaven. Anna got robbed of her husband and then her song. Maybe I have to go with her. If Michael is a defender he really ought to come to Anna's aid, don't you think? I know I bet one of these LM voter's is gonna write Anna a song before the end of the day.

  14. I went with Michael as protector and defender. But also don't want to incur his wrath as a warrior.

  15. I voted for Michael, because if he wins, I thought his image would look really cool on a coffee cup! (actually and more honestly, I am not sure we have had an angle in Lent Madness before and I thought the angels should have some recognition)

  16. Michael’s not a human being and thus can’t be a saint, so I voted for Anna.

    1. Saints are not just human. For over 2,000 years angels have been saints in the Christian tradition.

  17. Human versus archangel? Both had impressive accomplishments. But Michael achieved what he did because of being an angel, while Anna achieved what she did _despite_ being human. Anna for me!

  18. While I have always loved Anna for her perseverance in waiting to see and recognize Jesus, Michael the Archangel did throw Satan out of Heaven, for Heaven's sakes! In Revelations, dragon is used as a name for Satan and that is not clear in the information given regarding our two notable subjects for today. Michael defend us from the devil and all his works!

  19. Sometimes you just need to find a reason that speaks to you. Mont Saint Michel wouldn’t have existed without Michael? That’s my reason!

  20. This is tough. While I love both of these saints I usually side with the human because I find their stories more relatable and instructive. Michael won me today because the imagery in his stories is pretty interesting and I could use a protector from time to time.

  21. As a foster son, perhaps, of the house; the Michael bell there at Nashotah, for my own belief that Michael also guards and defends those who are homeless. My ordination named Michael (prayer D). This deacon is with Michael.