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E04641: Coptic Homily on the Archangel *Michael (S00181), from the monastery of the Archangel Michael near Hamouli in the Fayum (Lower Egypt), attributed to Basil of Caesarea and said to have been delivered at the newly built shrine of Michael in Lasike (Lasika/Lakiza), describing the status of the archangel and how to approach him at his shrine, stating that his power for intercession is greater than that of all the saints; allegedly originally written in the later 4th century, translated presumably sometime between the 5th and 9th century.

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posted on 2018-01-18, 00:00 authored by gschenke
Homily on the Archangel Michael, attributed to Basil of Caesarea

The text is introduced as follows:

M592, f. 22v a:
ϩⲟⲙⲟⲓⲟⲥ ⲕⲉⲗⲟⲅⲟⲥ ⲛⲧⲉ ⲡⲥⲟⲫⲟⲥ ϩⲛ ⲛⲁ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲃⲁⲥⲓⲗⲓⲟⲥ ⲡⲉⲡⲓⲥⲕⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲛⲧⲕⲁⲓⲥⲁⲣⲓⲁ ⲛⲧⲕⲁⲡⲡⲁⲇⲱⲕⲓⲁ ⲛⲧⲁϥⲧⲁⲟⲩⲟϥ ⲇⲉ
ϩⲛ ⲗⲁⲥⲓⲕⲏ ⲧⲡⲟⲗⲓⲥ ϩⲙ ⲡⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲛⲧⲁⲩⲕⲟⲧϥ ⲛⲃⲣⲣⲉ ⲉⲡⲣⲁⲛ ⲙⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ ϩⲙ ⲡⲧⲣⲉ ϩⲟⲉⲓⲛⲉ ⲛⲛⲉⲥⲛⲏⲩ ⲛⲥⲡⲟⲩⲇⲁⲓⲟⲥ
ⲡⲁⲣⲁⲕⲁⲗⲉⲓ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ⲉⲧⲣⲉϥⲧⲥⲓⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲛ ⲧⲉϥⲇⲓⲇⲁⲥⲕⲁⲗⲓⲁ ⲉⲧⲙⲉϩ ⲛⲱⲛϩ ⲛⲧⲟϥ ⲇⲉ ⲁϥⲧⲁⲩⲟ ⲙⲡⲉⲓⲗⲟⲅⲟⲥ ⲉϥϯ ⲉⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧ(ⲉ)
ⲁⲩⲱ ⲉϥⲉⲡⲁⲓⲛⲟⲩ ⲛⲧⲙⲛⲧⲥⲧⲙⲏⲧ ⲙⲡⲗⲁⲟⲥ ⲉϥⲧⲁⲙⲟ ⲙⲙⲟⲛ ϫⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲟⲩⲟⲛ ϩⲛ ⲧⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲓⲕⲏ ⲧⲏⲣⲥ ⲉϥϫⲟⲥⲉ ⲛⲑⲉ ⲙⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲁϥϣⲁϫⲉ ⲇⲉ
ⲟⲛ ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ⲡⲧⲱⲃⲥ ⲛⲧⲉⲯⲩⲭⲏ ⲛⲧⲁϥⲧⲁⲟⲩⲟ ⲙⲡⲉⲓⲗⲟⲅⲟⲥ ⲇⲉ ϩⲙ ⲡⲧⲣⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲕⲁⲧⲁⲥⲧⲓⲗⲉ ⲛⲛⲃⲁⲣⲃⲁⲣⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲙⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲉⲣⲟⲟⲩ ϫⲉ
ⲥⲁⲣⲙⲁⲧⲏⲥ ⲙⲛⲛⲥⲁ ⲧⲣⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ϯⲙⲡⲉϫⲣⲟ ⲛⲛⲉϩⲣⲱⲙⲁⲓⲟⲥ ⲛⲧⲉ ⲧⲉⲭⲱⲣⲁ ⲉⲧⲙⲙⲁⲩ ϫⲓ ⲛⲧⲉⲥⲕⲁⲧⲁⲥⲧⲁⲥⲓⲥ ⲛϣⲟⲣⲡ ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲉⲓⲣⲏⲛⲏ
ⲛⲧⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ϩⲁⲙⲏⲛ

‘Similarly, another homily by the wise one in divine matters, saint Basil, the bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia. He delivered it in the city of Lasike at the (martyr) shrine (martyrion) built anew in the name of the archangel Michael, when some zealous brothers urged him to satisfy them with his teaching which is full of life. He then delivered this homily, giving glory to God and praising the obedience of the people, telling us that there is no-one among the entire angelic host who is as elevated as Michael. He also spoke about the admonition of the soul. He delivered this homily when God had sent down the barbarians called Sarmates and after God had given victory to the Romans and after that country had received its former state of security. In God’s peace. Amen.’

The special circumstances of the feast are addressed:

ⲛⲓⲙ ⲡⲉⲧⲛⲁϣϣⲁϫⲉ ⲉⲡⲉⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲧⲁⲓⲟ ⲙⲡⲉⲓϣⲁ ⲙⲡⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲧⲟ ⲛⲥⲛⲁⲩ ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲉⲛ ⲧⲉ(ⲛ)ⲥⲟⲟⲩϩ ⲉⲡⲉϥⲣⲡⲙⲉⲉⲩⲉ ⲡⲉⲡⲛⲓⲕⲟⲛ
ⲇⲉ ⲟⲛ ⲙⲡⲉϫⲣⲟ ϩⲛ ⲧⲙⲏⲧⲉ

‘Who will be able to describe the glory and honour of this celebration today, which is twofold? On the one hand, we are gathered in the memory of the archangel. On the other hand, the spirit of victory is in our midst.’

ⲉⲓⲉ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲡⲉⲧⲉ ⲛϥⲛⲁⲣϣⲁ ⲁⲛ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲧⲟϥ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲡⲉ ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲏⲥⲧⲣⲁⲧⲏⲅⲟⲥ ⲛⲧϭⲟⲙ ⲛⲙⲡⲏⲩⲉ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲧⲟϥ ⲡⲉⲧϫⲓ
ⲛⲛⲉⲟⲩⲉϩⲥⲁϩⲛⲉ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲓⲧⲟⲟⲧϥ ⲙⲡⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲉϥⲧⲱϣ ⲙⲡⲟⲩⲁ ⲡⲟⲩⲁ ⲛⲛⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲉϥⲗⲓⲧⲟⲩⲣⲅⲓⲁ ⲙⲡⲉⲥⲙⲟⲧ ⲙⲡⲉⲧϩⲓϫⲛ ⲙⲙⲁⲧⲟⲓ

‘Who, then, will not celebrate with the archangel today? He is the supreme general of the force of heaven. It is he who receives the orders from the Father assigning each angel to his task like one who is in charge of the soldiers.’

Michael’s status and power are discussed, ranking him higher than all the saints:

ⲁⲗⲗⲁ ⲙⲉϣⲁⲕ ⲟⲩⲛ ⲟⲩⲁ ⲛⲁϫⲟⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ϯⲛⲁⲉⲓⲣⲉ ⲙⲡⲉⲧⲉϩⲛⲁⲓ ⲧⲁⲉⲓ ⲉⲡⲧⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲁⲩⲱ ϥⲛⲁⲡⲣⲉⲥⲃⲉⲩⲉ ϩⲁⲣⲟⲓ
ⲡⲉⲓϣⲁϫⲉ ⲡⲁⲓ ⲟⲩⲙⲛⲧⲣⲉϥϯϭⲟⲙ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲃⲉ ⲡⲉ ⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲟⲛ ⲉⲛϣⲁϫⲉ ⲉⲧⲉⲣⲉ ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲧⲁⲩⲟ ⲙⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲛⲁⲓ ⲛⲧⲉⲓⲙⲓⲛⲉ
ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ⲡⲉϫⲁϥ ⲁⲛⲅ ⲟⲩⲁⲥⲱⲙⲁⲧⲟⲥ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲉⲓⲟⲩⲏϩ ϩⲙ ⲡⲧⲃⲃⲟ ⲉⲓϩⲩⲙⲛⲉⲩⲉ ⲉⲡⲁⲧⲧⲱⲗⲙ ⲛⲧⲱⲧⲛ ϩⲱⲧ ⲧⲏⲩⲧⲛ ⲧⲃⲃⲉ ⲧⲏⲩⲧⲛ ⲙⲡⲁⲧⲉⲧⲛⲉⲓ
ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲁⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲓⲟⲛ ϫⲉ ⲛⲛⲉ ⲡⲕⲱϩⲧ ⲛⲧⲙⲛⲧⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲡⲉⲧⲛⲏⲩ ⲉⲡⲉⲥⲏⲧ ⲉϫⲛ ⲧⲉⲧⲣⲁⲡⲉⲍⲁ ⲣⲉⲕϩ ⲧⲏⲩⲧⲛ ⲟⲩⲛⲧⲁⲓ ⲉⲝⲟⲩⲥⲓⲁ ϩⲛ
ⲧⲡⲉ ⲉⲧⲣⲁⲡⲣⲉⲥⲃⲉⲩⲉ ϩⲁⲣⲱⲧⲛ ⲡⲁⲣⲁ ⲛⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲛⲧⲱⲧⲛ ϩⲱⲧ ⲧⲏⲩⲧⲛ ⲙⲁⲣⲉⲓⲛⲁⲩ ⲉⲧⲉⲧⲛⲇⲓⲁⲑⲏⲥⲓⲥ ⲁⲩⲱ ϯⲛⲁⲡⲣⲉⲥⲃⲉⲩⲉ
ϩⲁⲣⲱⲧⲛ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛϥⲛⲁⲧⲥⲧⲉ ⲧⲁⲁⲝⲓⲱⲥⲓⲥ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲁⲛ ⲛϭⲓ ⲡⲇⲩⲙⲓⲟⲩⲣⲅⲟⲥ ϣⲁⲓⲃⲱⲕ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉϫⲛ ⲙⲉⲛⲉⲩⲉ ⲙⲙⲟⲓ ⲉϥϣⲁⲛϭⲱⲛⲧ ⲟⲛ ϣⲁⲣⲉ
ⲡⲡⲱϩⲧ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛⲛⲁⲣⲙⲉⲓⲟⲟⲩⲉ ⲕⲧⲉ ⲡⲉϥϭⲱⲛⲧ ⲉⲡⲁϩⲟⲩ ⲉⲩⲙⲛⲧϣⲁⲛϩⲧⲏϥ

‘But perhaps someone will say, “I will do what I please and then come to the shrine (topos) of the archangel Michael and he will intercede on my behalf.” This very statement is an act of empowering sin. Listen to the words which the archangel Michael uttered regarding such matters. “As for me,” he said, “I am bodiless. I dwell in purity singing songs of praise to the undefiled One. As for you, cleanse yourselves before entering my shrine (martyrion) lest the fire of the divinity of Him who descends to the table consumes you. I have more authority in heaven to intercede on your behalf than all the saints. You, on your part, let me see your disposition. I will intercede on your behalf and the Creator will not reject my request. I enter without announcing myself. Moreover, when He is angry, the shedding of my tears turns his anger back into compassion.”’

Rules for approaching the archangel are laid out, which include being clean, remaining pure, singing a particular verse, and feeding the poor:

ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲉⲛ ⲉϥⲁϩⲉⲣⲁⲧϥ ⲙⲡⲙⲧⲟ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲙⲡⲕⲁⲧⲁⲡⲉⲧⲁⲥⲙⲁ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛⲟⲩⲟⲉⲓϣ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲛⲧⲟⲕ ϩⲱⲱⲕ ⲟⲛ ⲉϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲕⲟⲩⲱϣ
ⲉϯ ⲙⲡⲉⲕⲟⲩⲟⲓ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲡⲉⲑⲩⲥⲓⲁⲥⲧⲏⲣⲓⲟⲛ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲧⲃⲃⲟⲕ ⲙⲡⲁⲧⲉⲕϫⲓ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲙ ⲡⲥⲱⲙⲁ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲉⲥⲛⲟϥ ⲙⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲯⲁⲗⲗⲉⲓ ϫⲉ ϣⲁⲣⲉ
ⲡⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲕⲱⲧⲉ ⲉⲛⲉⲧⲣϩⲟⲧⲉ ϩⲏⲧϥ ⲛϥⲛⲁϩⲙⲟⲩ ϫⲉⲕⲁⲥ ⲉϥⲉⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲉⲡⲉⲕⲥⲟⲡⲥ ⲛϭⲓ ⲡⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ

‘The archangel is always standing in front of the curtain of God. As for you, if you wish to approach the holy altar, purify yourself before you receive from the body and the blood of the Lord. Sing, “The angel of the Lord surrounds those who fear him and saves them,” so that the angel may hear your prayer.’

ϩⲁⲣⲉϩ ⲉⲛⲉⲧⲛϩⲏⲧ ⲉⲩⲧⲃⲃⲏⲩ ⲁⲩⲱ ϯⲛⲁⲡⲣⲉⲥⲃⲉⲩⲉ ϩⲁⲣⲱⲧⲛ ϩⲣⲁⲓ ϩⲛ ⲧⲙⲉϩⲥⲁϣϥⲉ ⲙⲡⲉ ⲙⲡⲣⲉⲓ ⲉⲡⲉⲓⲙⲁ ⲉⲧⲉⲧⲛⲧⲟⲗⲙ ϩⲛ ⲛⲉⲧⲛⲡⲟⲣⲛⲓⲁ
ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϫⲉ ⲡⲟⲣⲛⲟⲥ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲙⲛⲧⲁϥ ⲱⲛϩ ⲙⲙⲁⲩ

‘Keep your hearts pure, and I will intercede on your behalf in the seventh heaven. Do not come here when you are defiled by your fornications, because every fornicator lacks life.’

ⲁⲩⲱ ⲧⲛⲡⲁⲣⲁⲕⲁⲗⲉⲓ ⲙⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲛϥⲥⲟⲡⲥ ⲉϫⲱⲛ ⲛⲛⲁϩⲣⲙ ⲡⲉⲭⲥ ⲧⲉⲛⲥⲟⲟⲩⲛ ⲅⲁⲣ ϫⲉ ϥϩⲏⲛ ⲉϩⲟⲩ(ⲛ) ⲉⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ

‘We entreat the archangel Michael and he prays on our behalf before Christ, for we know that he is close to God.’

ⲁⲗⲗⲁ ⲡⲉⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲁⲙⲉ ⲙⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲡⲉ ⲥⲁⲁⲛϣ ⲛⲛϩⲏⲕⲉ ⲡⲟⲩⲁ ⲡⲟⲩⲁ ⲕⲁⲧⲁ ⲧⲉϥϭⲟⲙ

‘But truly, glory to the archangel is feeding the poor, each one according to his ability.’

ⲉⲥⲉϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲇⲉ ϩⲓⲧⲛ ⲧⲙⲛⲧⲁⲅⲁⲑⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲥⲟⲡⲥ ⲙⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲛⲧⲛϭⲓⲛⲓ ⲛⲟⲩⲙⲉⲣⲟⲥ ϩⲛ ⲧⲙⲛⲧⲣⲣⲟ

‘Through the goodness of God and the prayers of the holy archangel Michael it shall be that we shall find a share in the kingdom of heaven.’

The content of what is referred to as the second homily (following the order within codex M592) has been summarised as follows:

§§ 1–2: We have run the race and kept the faith. Now Michael will intercede.
§§ 3–4: Refutation of ‘I will sin as I please and then ask the archangel to intercede’ and ‘God will not forgive me my sins’.
§ 5: Be kind to others and God will be kind to you.
§§ 6–8: Exegesis of Jude 9 (dispute over Moses’ body).
§ 9: Approach the altar in purity and Michael will intercede.
§§ 10–11: Parable of the shepherd and the mangy sheep.
§ 12: We almost forgot Michael. But praise for God is praise for him.
§13–15: Observe what you hear in church.
§§ 16–17: Michael speaks: ‘Serve as I do and be pure for communion, and I will intercede.’
§§ 18–25: Fornication and punishment.
§ 26: Prayer to Michael. But we have said enough.
§ 27: Feed the poor.
§ 28: Epilogue.

(Summary, text and trans. Mark C. Stone, slightly modified)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Michael, the Archangel : S00181

Saint Name in Source

ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ

Type of Evidence

Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment codex Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • Coptic

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Hamouli Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Hamouli Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Basil of Caesarea

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Martyr shrine (martyrion, bet sāhedwātā, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



This is the fourth (ff. 22v–27v) of eight homilies all dedicated to the archangel Michael and all contained in the same parchment codex M592, and the second of two homilies attributed to Basil of Caesarea. For the other homily attributed to Basil of Caesarea see E04640. For the other homilies to the archangel Michael from the same codex see E04642, and E04835, $04836, E04837, E04838, E04839. The production of the codex is datable to the 9th or early 10th century on the basis of securely dated codices (AD 822/3–913/14) all found together at the monastery of the Archangel Michael near Hamouli in the Fayum.


Since Basil had visited the monasteries in Egypt, where his theology was well received, many of his works or works attributed to him are preserved in Coptic translations. But just as in Greek, there is no complete corpus of his works in Coptic. Egyptian translations of his most popular Greek and Syriac homilies most likely underwent a lengthy process of revision and translation. This makes it often difficult to judge which of these homilies attributed to Basil were genuine, particularly as many might stem from Greek originals displaying general Basilian philosophy: see Müller 1991. For literature and a brief overview of the Christian Egyptian tradition concerning the special sacred status attributed to Michael, see van Esbroeck 1991.


Text and translation: Stone, M.C., "Second Homily on St. Michael Archangel Delivered at Lasike attributed to Basil of Caesarea (M592, ff. 22v–27v a)," in: L. Depuydt (ed.), Homiletica from the Pierpont Morgan Library: Seven Coptic Homilies Attributed to Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, and Euodius of Rome, CSCO 524: Copt. 43, pp. 17–23 (text) and CSCO 525: Copt. 44, pp. 18–24 (translation) (Louvain, 1991). Introduction and codicology: Depuydt, L., Catalogue of Coptic Manuscripts in the Pierpont Morgan Library: Corpus of Illuminated Manuscripts (Leuven, 1993), 230–235, esp. 231–232. Further reading: Esbroeck, M. van, "Michael the Archangel, saint," in: A.S. Atiya (ed.), The Coptic Encyclopedia, vol. 5 (New York, 1991), 1616–1620. Müller, C.D.G., "Basil the Great," in: A.S. Atiya (ed.), The Coptic Encyclopedia, vol. 2 (New York, 1991), 351–352. Orlandi, T., "Basilio di Cesarea nella letteratura copta," Rivista degli studi orientali 49 (1975), 49–58, esp. 56–58.

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