October 2nd is the feast day of the Guardian Angels.

The Catholic teaching on guardian angels has been developed over the entire course of history. While the Catholic Church has not spoken definitively on the existence of “guardian angels” in particular, there are explicit references to angels in general and indirect references to “guardian angels” in the Bible. It is commonly held that each person has a guardian angel (in some cases more). Angels are God’s messengers, comforters, and warriors. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “From infancy to death human life is surrounded by (the angels’) watchful care and intercession.” (336)

Old Testament

In the Old Testament, angels are mentioned frequently, sometimes relating to their role as guardians of individuals. In Genesis 18-19, angels bring down the wrath of God against Sodom and Gomorrah. They also protect Lot from the angry and lustful crowd closing in on his house. In Genesis 21, “God’s Messenger”, comforts Hagar and her child in the wilderness. An angel came to Abraham as he was about to sacrifice his son, assuring him of God’s blessings.

 In Exodus 23:20, God Says to Moses, “"See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared". This may be the closest we get to hearing of “guardian angels” in the Old Testament. Still, the angel is sent to Moses to lead him rather than the current understanding of an angel assigned from birth, baptism or conception.

Joshua meets an angel while he is near Jericho, “While Joshua was near Jericho, he raised his eyes and saw one who stood facing him, drawn sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you one of us or of our enemies?"  He replied, "Neither. I am the captain of the host of the LORD and I have just arrived." Then Joshua fell prostrate to the ground in worship, and said to him, "What has my lord to say to his servant?"  The captain of the host of the LORD replied to Joshua, "Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy." And Joshua obeyed.” (Joshua 5:13-15).

In Psalm 91:11, we hear: "For God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways." Also in Daniel 10 angels an angel is mentioned, who speaks to Daniel “As I looked up, I saw a man dressed in linen with a belt of fine gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face shown like lightning, his eyes were like fiery torches, his arms and feet looked like burnished bronze, and his voice sounded like the roar of a multitude.” He mentions angels as protecting particular geographic areas, and Michael is identified as “one of the chief princes”

New Testament

An angel announces the birth of John to Zechariah in Luke 1: “But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.” Later in the same chapter, the angel Gabriel appears to Mary at the Annunciation. In Luke 2, angels appeared to the shepherds when Jesus was born.

In Matthew 2, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him to flee with his family to Egypt. Later in the same chapter, an angel appears again to him telling him when it was safe to return to Israel. In Matthew 4, angels ministered to Jesus. In Luke, 22:43, we hear of an angel who comforts Jesus during His agony in the garden, “And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him.”

In Matthew 18:10, a reference to the association of angels with children is found, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

An angel helps Peter escape from jail in Acts 12. This is obviously an act of protection as Peter was likely to be executed. These angels help us in many ways, and can assist us in our purpose in life, namely getting to Heaven.

Church Fathers

The early church fathers had different opinions on how and when guardian angels were assigned to humans. Most held that every person regardless of faith was given an angel to watch over them. Some fathers believed that an angel was given at baptism.

Here are some of the quotes the fathers of the Church have made concerning guardian Angels:

“Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.” – St. Basil

“There are two angels with a man — one of righteousness, and the other of iniquity … The angel of righteousness is gentle and modest, meek and peaceful. When he ascends into your heart, he speaks to you of righteousness, purity, chastity, contentment, and every other righteous deed and glorious virtue. When all of these things come into your heart, know that the angel of righteousness is with you.” - Hermas

“Every believer — although the humblest in the Church — is said to be attended by an angel, who the Savior declares always beholds the face of God the Father. Now, this angel has the purpose of being his guardian.” – Origen

“I mean that holy angel of God who fed me from my youth.” - St. Gregory the Wonderworker

“We have learned from the inspired writings that all who are born … are committed to guardian angels.” - St. Methodius

Do not be surprised if you fall every day and do not surrender. Stand your ground bravely. And you may be sure that your guardian angel will respect your endurance. A fresh, warm wound is easier to heal than those that are old, neglected, and festering, and that need extensive treatment, surgery, bandaging, and cauterization. Long neglect can render many of them incurable. However, all things are possible with God. - St. John Climacus

If you feel sweetness or compunction at some word of your prayer, dwell on it; for then our guardian angel is praying with us. - St. John Climacus

In the presence of an invisible spirit, the body becomes afraid; but in the presence of an angel, the soul of the humble is filled with joy. Therefore, when we recognize the presence from the effect, let us quickly hasten to prayer, for our good guardian has come to pray with us. - St. John Climacus

When you close the doors to your dwelling and are alone you should know that there is present with you the angel whom God has appointed for each man...This angel, who is sleepless and cannot be deceived, is always present with you; he sees all things and is not hindered by darkness. You should know, too, that with him is God, who is in every place; for there is no place and nothing material in which God is not, since He is greater than all things and holds all men in His hand. - St. Antony the Great

Even if an angel should indeed appear to you, do not receive him but humiliate yourself, saying, 'I am not worthy to see an angel, for I am a sinner.' - St. Clement of Rome

The angel who is always near us is by nothing so distressed and made indignant as when, without being constrained by some necessity, we deprive ourselves of the ministration of the Holy Mysteries and of reception of Holy Communion, which grants remission of sins. For at that hour the priest offers up the sacrifice of the Body of Him Who gives us life, and the Holy Spirit descends and consecrates the Body and Blood and grants remission to creation. The Cherubim, the Seraphim, and the angels stand with great awe, fear, and joy. They rejoice over the Holy Mysteries while experiencing inexpressible astonishment. The angel who is always by us is consoled, because he also partakes in that spectacle and is not deprived of that perfect intercourse. - St. Isaac the Syrian

Devotions and Pious Traditions

Over the centuries, a number of pious devotions have developed around the guardian angels. Listed below are several prayers to them:

Chaplet to the Guardian Angel

Guardian Angel Prayer (Angel of God my Guardian Dear)

My Good Angel

Novena to the Guardian Angels

There is even a Confraternity of the Holy Guardian Angels that you can join!