Other Religions Angels and Miracles Archangel Michael Escorts Souls to Heaven The last chance at salvation before the moment of death Share Flipboard Email Print lbllama/Getty Images Angels and Miracles An Introduction To Angels All About Miracles Prayer and Meditation Religious Texts Famous Archangels By Whitney Hopler Religion Expert B.A., Comparative Religion, George Mason University Whitney Hopler has written on faith topics since 1994. She is communications director for the Center for Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University. our editorial process Whitney Hopler Updated June 25, 2019 Angels visit all people when they die, believers say. The leader of all angels-- Archangel Michael--appears just before the moment of death to those who haven't yet connected to God, giving them a last chance at salvation before their time to decide runs out. The guardian angels who are assigned to care for each person's soul throughout their lifetimes also encourage them to trust God. Then, Michael and the guardian angels work together to escort the souls of those who are saved to heaven immediately after they pass away. Michael Presents a Last Chance at Salvation Just prior to the death of someone whose soul isn't saved, Michael visits to present them with one last opportunity to place their faith in God so they can go to heaven, say believers. In his book, Communicating with the Archangel Michael for Guidance & Protection, Richard Webster writes: "When someone is dying, Michael appears and gives each soul a chance to redeem itself, frustrating Satan and his helpers as a result." Michael is a patron saint of dying people in the Catholic church because of his role encouraging the dying to trust God. In his book, The Life and Prayers of Saint Michael the Archangel, Wyatt North writes: "We know it is Saint Michael who accompanies the faithful in their final hour and to their own day of judgment, interceding on our behalf before Christ. In doing so, he balances the good deeds of our lives against the bad, epitomized by the scales [in artwork that depict Michael weighing souls]." North encourages readers to prepare themselves to meet Michael whenever their time to die comes: “Daily devotion to Michael in this life will ensure he is waiting to receive your soul at the hour of your death and lead you to the Eternal Kingdom. [...] As we die our souls are open to last-minute attacks by Satan’s demons, yet by invoking Saint Michael, protection is ensured through his shield. On reaching the judgment seat of Christ, Saint Michael will intercede on our behalf and beg our forgiveness. [...] Trust your family and friends to him and invoke his support every day for all of those you love, praying especially for his defense at the end of your life. If we truly desire to be led into the Eternal Kingdom to reside in the presence of God, we must invoke Saint Michael’s guidance and protection throughout our lives.” Guardian Angels Communicate with People They Care For Each dying person's guardian angel (or angels, if God has assigned more than one to that person) also communicate with the person as he or she is facing the transition into the afterlife, say believers. In his book The Invisible World: Understanding Angels, Demons, and the Spiritual Realities that Surround Us, Anthony Destefano writes: "[You will not] be alone when you die -- because your guardian angel will be there with you. [...] The whole purpose of his [your guardian angel's] mission has been to assist you with the ups and downs of life and to help you make it to heaven. Does it make any sense that he would abandon you at the very end? Of course not. He's going to be right there with you. And even though he's a pure spirit, in some mysterious way you'll be able to see him, know him, communicate with him, and recognize the role he has played in your life." The most important topic for guardian angels to discuss with people who are about to die is their salvation. Destefano writes: "At the moment of death, when our souls leave our bodies, all that will be left is the choice we've made. And that choice will be either for God, or against him. And it will be fixed--forever." Guardian angels "pray with people and for people, and offer their prayers and good works to God" throughout people's lives, including at the end, writes Rosemary Ellen Guiley in her book The Encyclopedia of Angels. As Michael talks spirit-to-spirit with each unsaved person who is about to die--urging them to believe in God and trust God for salvation--the guardian angel who has cared for that person supports Michael's efforts. Dying people, whose souls are already saved, don't need Michael's last-minute urging to connect with God. But they do need encouragement that there's nothing to fear as they leave Earth for heaven, so their guardian angels often communicate that message to them, believers say. Michael Escorts Saved Souls to Heaven Ever since Adam, the very first human being, died, God has assigned his highest-ranking angel--Michael--to escort human souls to heaven, say believers. The Life of Adam and Eve, a religious text considered sacred yet non-canonical in Judaism and Christianity, describes how God gives Michael the role of taking Adam's soul to heaven. After Adam dies, his still living wife, Eve, and the angels in heaven pray for God to have mercy on Adam's soul. The angels plead with God together, saying in chapter 33: "Holy One, have pardon for he is your image, and the work of your holy hands." God then allows Adam's soul to enter heaven and has Michael meet him there. Chapter 37 verses 4 to 6 says: "The Father of all, sitting on his holy throne stretched out his hand, and took Adam and handed him over to the archangel Michael, saying: 'Lift him up into paradise unto the third heaven, and leave him there until that fearful day of my reckoning, which I will make in the world.' Then Michael took Adam and left him where God told him." Michael's role escorting people's souls to heaven inspired the popular folk song "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore." As someone who guides people's souls, Michael is known as a psychopomp (a Greek word that means "guide of souls") and the song alludes to an ancient Greek myth about a psychopomp who ferried souls across a river separating the world of the living from the world of the dead. Evelyn Dorothy Oliver and James R. Lewis in their book, Angels A to Z, write: “One of the more familiar psychopomps of antiquity was Charon, the ferryman from Greek mythology responsible for transporting the spirits of the departed across the river Styx and into the realm of the dead. In the Christian world, it was natural that angels should come to perform the function of psychopomps, a job with which Michael is particularly associated. The old gospel tune 'Michael, Row the Boat Ashore' is an allusion to his work as a psychopomp. As the imagery of boat rowing suggests, the Archangel Michael is portrayed as a kind of Christian Charon, ferrying souls from earth to heaven.” Guardian Angels Help Escort Souls to Heaven Guardian angels accompany Michael (who can be in multiple locations at once) and the souls of people who have died as they travel across dimensions to reach the entrance to heaven, believers say. "They [guardian angels] receive and protect the soul at the moment of death," Guiley writes in the Encyclopedia of Angels. "The guardian angel guides it to the afterworld...". The Qur'an, the primary sacred text of Islam, contains a verse that describes guardian angels' work carrying the souls of people into the afterlife: "[God] sends forth guardians to watch over you and when death overtakes you, the messengers will carry away your soul" (verse 6:61). Once Michael and the guardian angels arrive with souls at heaven's entrance, angels from the Dominions rank welcome the souls into heaven. Dominion angels are "what we might call the 'heralds of incoming souls'," writes Sylvia Browne in Sylvia Browne's Book of Angels. "They stand at the end of the tunnel and form a gateway of welcome for those souls who pass over."