The Archangel is portrayed frontally, in full length, raising with his right hand the bare sword in front of his right shoulder. With his left, he holds the lowered empty sheath. His cuirass is embellished with chrysographies and his legs are wrapped in low leggings fastened with a knot. He stands upon a red cushion on the green ground strip, while green is also used for his large wings. The exact same type of Archangel, in the same pose, the same gestures and an identical costume, occurs in a series of icons. The prototype goes back to the representations of warrior saints, like Saint George in the Athonite Monastery of Protaton. The Palaeologan origin is confirmed by the full hair of the fine head. The repetition of this type in several Cretan icons, more or less contemporary, in which one can distinguish the dexterous execution of the chrysography and the vividness of the faces, shows that it has been crystallised in Crete during the 15th century.
Archangel Michael is usually depicted as a military-style agent of God and belongs to the third sphere of Angels, according to the Christian concept. According to the most influential Christian angelic hierarchy found in the 5th or early 6th century book of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite De Coelesti Hierarchia (also in Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica), angels are organized in three Hierarchies or Spheres, each one containing three Orders or Choirs:
First Sphere - Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones or Ophanim
Second Sphere – Dominions, Virtues, Powers or Authorities
Third Sphere – Principalities or Rulers, Archangels, Angels
Pseudo-Dionysius drew on passages from the Ephesians and Colossians; however, the Biblical canon remains relatively silent concerning the subject. During the middle ages various different schemes and hierarchies were proposed.