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E04642: Coptic Homily on the Archangel *Michael (S00181), from the monastery of the Archangel Michael near Hamouli in the Fayum (Lower Egypt), attributed to John Chrysostom, discussing Michael’s high status as an intercessor and mentioning *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) as another powerful intercessor; allegedly originally written in the early 5th century and 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 John Chrysostom

The slightly fragmentary text is introduced as follows:

M592, f. 1r a:

ⲟⲩⲗⲟⲅⲟⲥ ⲉⲁϥⲧⲁⲩⲟϥ ⲛϭⲓ ⲡϩⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ ⲓⲱϩⲁⲛⲛⲏⲥ ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲏⲉⲡ̣ⲓ̣ⲥ̣ⲕⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲛⲕⲟⲥⲧⲁⲛⲧⲓⲛⲟⲡ̣ⲟⲗⲓⲥ ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ⲡⲧ̣[ⲁ]ⲓ̣ⲟ ⲙⲡⲁⲣⲭ[ⲁⲅ]ⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲓⲭ̣[ⲁⲏⲗ]
ⲁⲩⲱ ⲟⲛ ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ⲧⲉⲕⲣⲓⲥⲓⲥ [ⲉⲧⲛⲁ]ϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲁ[ϫⲱⲛ?] … … … ϩⲛ ⲟⲩⲉⲓⲣⲏⲛ̣ⲏ̣ ⲛ̣ⲧ̣ⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ϩⲁ̣ⲙ̣ⲏ̣ⲛ̣

‘A homily which saint John, the archbishop of Constantinople, delivered concerning the honour of the archangel Michael and concerning also the judgement [that will] be [upon us?] … … … In God’s peace. Amen.’

The status of the archangel is described as that of the Lord’s servant who fights on people's behalf:

ⲉⲡⲓⲇⲏ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲥⲉⲣⲁϣⲉ ⲉϩⲣⲁⲓ ⲉϫⲛ ⲡⲉⲛ<ⲟⲩ>ϫⲁⲓ ⲛϭⲓ ⲛⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲕⲁⲧⲁ ⲡϣⲁϫⲉ ⲙⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ⲡⲁⲓ ⲇ̣ⲉ ϩⲱⲱⲛ ⲉⲛⲣ ϣⲁ ϩⲙ ⲡ̣ⲓ̣ⲙⲁ
ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲙⲡⲛⲟϭ ⲛⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲧⲁⲓⲏⲩ ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲟⲩⲭ ⲟ̣ⲧⲉⲓ ϫⲉ ⲛⲧⲁ ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙⲟⲩ ϩⲁ ⲧⲙⲛⲧ̣ⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲁⲗⲗⲁ ⲡⲧⲁⲉⲓⲟ̣
ⲙⲡϩⲙϩⲁ̣ⲗ ⲉϥϫⲓ̣ ⲉϩⲟ̣ⲩ̣ⲛ ⲉⲡⲉϥϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ

‘Since the angels rejoice over our salvation, according to the word of the Lord, for this reason we ourselves are celebrating at this holy place of the great honourable archangel Michael. Not because the archangel died for humanity, but because the respect for the servant reaches his Lord.’

ⲧⲁⲓ ⲧⲉ ⲑⲉ ⲉⲧⲉⲛϣⲱⲡ ⲉⲣⲟ(ⲛ) ϩⲱⲱⲛ ⲙⲡϣⲁϫⲉ ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ⲧϭⲟⲙ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲛⲟⲓ ⲡⲟⲩⲣⲁⲛⲓ̣[ⲟⲛ] ⲛ̣ϩⲟⲩⲟ ⲇⲉ ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅ[ⲉⲗⲟ]ⲥ̣ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ
ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲟ̣ⲩϩⲩⲙⲉⲣⲟⲥ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲡⲉ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲁⲅⲁⲑⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ⲡⲁⲓ ϥϩⲏⲛ ⲉϩⲟⲩⲛ ⲉⲧⲡⲩ̣ⲅⲏ ⲛⲁⲅⲁⲑⲟⲛ ⲛⲓⲙ ⲉⲧⲉ̣ [ⲡ]ⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲡⲉ ⲉϥϫⲱⲗϩ̣ ⲛⲁⲛ
ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲛ ⲧⲉⲓⲡⲩⲅⲏ ⲛⲧⲉⲓⲙⲓⲛⲉ ⲛⲛⲉ̣ⲓ̣ⲙ̣ⲟ̣ⲟ̣ⲩ ⲛⲧⲉϥⲙⲛⲧⲭⲥ ⲟⲩⲣ̣ⲉ̣ϥ̣ⲙⲓ̣ϣⲉ ⲉϫⲱⲛ ⲡⲉ ⲟⲩⲃⲉ ⲛⲉⲛϫⲁϫⲉ ⲉⲑⲏⲡ ⲟⲩⲣⲉϥⲁⲅⲱⲛⲓⲍⲉ ⲟⲛ ⲡⲉ
ⲟⲩⲃⲉ ⲛⲇⲩⲛⲁⲧⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲟⲛϩ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ

‘This is the way in which we too receive the word about all the heavenly powers and especially the holy archangel Michael, for he is gentle and good. Therefore, he is near to the source of every good, which is God, drawing for us from such a spring these waters of his excellence. He is a warrior on our behalf against our hidden enemies and a combatant also against the visible forces.’

The homily closes as follows:

ⲁⲕⲛⲁⲩ ⲧⲉⲛⲟⲩ ⲉⲡϫⲱⲕ ⲛⲧⲙⲛⲧⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥ ⲛⲁⲓ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲉⲕϣⲁⲛϩⲁⲣⲉϩ ⲉⲣⲟⲟⲩ ⲡⲉⲕⲙⲁ ⲛϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲡⲉ̣ ⲡⲏⲓ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲁⲩⲱ̣ ⲥⲉⲛⲁⲃⲓ ϩⲁⲣⲟⲕ
ⲛϭ̣ⲓ̣ ⲛ[ϭⲓ]ϫ ⲛⲛⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ϩⲛ ⲧⲉⲕ̣ϭⲓⲛⲉⲓ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲛ ⲥⲱⲙⲁ ⲉⲥⲉϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲇⲉ ⲙⲙⲟⲛ ⲉⲧⲣⲉⲛⲙⲁⲧⲉ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ ϩⲓⲧⲉⲛ ⲧⲉⲭⲁⲣⲓⲥ ⲙⲡⲉ(ⲛ)ϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲓⲥ
ⲡⲉⲭⲥ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲥⲟⲡⲥ ⲛⲧⲉⲛϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ ⲧⲏⲣⲛ ⲧⲉⲑⲉⲟⲇⲱⲕⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲙⲁⲣⲓⲁ ⲧⲡⲁⲣⲑⲉⲛⲟⲥ ⲉⲧϩⲁ ⲉⲟⲟⲩ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲧⲣⲉϥϫⲡⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲛ
ⲛⲉⲡⲣⲉⲥⲃⲓⲁ ⲙⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲥⲟⲡⲥ ⲛⲛⲉⲧϩⲛ ⲙⲡⲏⲩⲉ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ⲉⲩⲟⲩⲛⲁϥ ⲙⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲉⲭⲥ ⲡⲉⲛⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲛ
ⲡⲉϥⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲛⲁⲅⲁⲑⲟⲥ ⲙⲛ ⲡⲉϥⲡⲛⲁ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲛⲣⲉϥⲧⲁⲛϩⲟ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛϣⲟⲩⲡⲣⲟⲥⲕⲩⲛⲉⲓ ⲛⲁϥ ϫⲓⲛ ⲧⲉⲛⲟⲩ ϣⲁ ⲉⲛⲉϩ ⲛⲧⲉ ⲡⲓⲉⲛⲉϩ ϩⲁⲙⲏⲛ

‘Now you have seen the completion of blessedness. If you take care of these things, your dwelling-place is the house of God. The hands of angels will carry you when you leave the body. Verily it shall be that we are made to attain this through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and through the appeals of our Lady, the holy Theotokos, Mary, the glorious and God-bearing Virgin; and through the intercessions of the holy archangel Michael; and the prayer of all who are in heaven rejoicing together with Christ our God, with his good Father and his Holy Spirit, the life saver, worthy of being venerated, from now on eternally. Amen.’

The content of the homily has been summarised as follows:

§1: Exhortation to honour Michael.
§§ 2–3: Michael, the ‘great prince’.
§ 4: Michael should be honoured and not he who was installed first (the devil).
§5: Michael’s honour is indescribable.
§§ 6–20: On the trumpet of the archangel and the day of judgement.
§§ 21–25: On sin and mercy.
§§ 26–28: On following the angels as models.
§ 29: Epilogue.

(Summary, text and trans. David Brakke, modified)


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Michael, the Archangel : S00181 Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Saint Name in Source

ⲡⲁⲣⲭⲁⲅⲅ[ⲉⲗⲟ]ⲥ̣ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲙⲓⲭⲁⲏⲗ ⲧⲉⲑⲉⲟⲇⲱⲕⲟⲥ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲙⲁⲣⲓⲁ ⲧⲡⲁⲣⲑⲉⲛⲟⲥ

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 Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Hamouli Constantinople

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

Hamouli Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Major author/Major anonymous work

John Chrysostom

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



This is the first (ff. 1r–7v) of eight homilies all dedicated to the archangel Michael and all contained in the same parchment codex M592. For the other homilies on Michael in M592, see E04640, E04641, E04835, E04836, E04837, E04838. 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.


There is a long list of authentic homilies and other works by John Chrysostom preserved in Coptic translation of the 5th and 6th century: see Orlandi 1991. For literature and a brief overview of the Christian Egyptian tradition concerning the special sacred status attributed to Michael, see van Esbroeck 1991. The reference to Mary as the Theotokos might have been a later addition to the text.


Text and Translation: Brakke, D., "Homily on St. Michael Archangel, attributed to John Chrysostom (M592, ff. 1r–7v)," 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. 47–55 (text) and CSCO 525: Copt. 44, pp. 48–56 (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. Further reading: Esbroeck, M. van, "Michael the Archangel, saint," in: A.S. Atiya (ed.), The Coptic Encyclopedia, vol. 5 (New York, 1991), 1616–1620. Orlandi, T., "John Chrysostom, Saint," in: A.S. Atiya (ed.), The Coptic Encyclopedia, vol. 5 (New York, 1991), 1357–1359.

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