By Iona McCombie Smith | The BL

From ancient times, angels have been present in most religions and beliefs in Western culture. Stories of angels were passed down from generation to generation. They were believed to be the missionaries of God who were sent on missions to assist God in taking care of humans and punishing sinners. However, there were also corrupt angels who renounced the holiness of heaven and took a stand against God’s holy word.

Angels in Western culture. (Public Domain)

The angels have accompanied us for
millennia

Angels and divine beings have been known to humans since the dawn of civilization. Countless stories of encounters between human souls and divine beings have been found in almost every culture and religion.

They may appear as harbingers of death or heralds of joy, but they appear at all major events. Angels have been known to protect people but also impose punishment by causing catastrophic destruction at times of descending or decaying human morality.

Angelic images have been vividly portrayed in numerous ancient works of art, in popular movies, songs and in decorative works. In human eyes, angels, whether resuming the role of protectors or destroyers, are often seen as spirits of beauty, wonder, and pure belief.

1) ‘Annunciation’ by Leonardo da Vinci and Andrea del Verrocchio, dating from circa 1472–1475. (Wikipedia Commons); 2) Giacinto Gimignani – An Angel and a Devil Fighting for the Soul of a Child; 3) Edward Burne-Jones – An Angel Playing a Flageolet. (Public Domain/United States public domain tag)

Traces of angels in ancient times

Traces of angelic reference have been found as early as in the time of the ancient Sumerian empire.

Archaeologists have unearthed altars of winged guardian angels in Iraq (which was once the home of the ancient Sumerian empire) dating back to 3,000 BC.

The Book of Enoch (an ancient Hebrew work predating 300–200 BCE) unfolded the role of angels at the time and most notably their betrayal to Heaven, giving rise to their casting out of Heaven. Angels at the time were called Gregori or the Watchers. They guided humanity agriculturally and instructed humans in the making of metal weapons. However, some of the angels crossed a divine line by mating with mortal women and gave birth to monsters, which induced God’s wrath, who then sent the Great flood to destroy the whole world.

Archangel Michael. (Wikipedia Commons)

Christian belief painted diversified
characters of angels

The Gospel of Luke features the archangel Gabriel who acted as a messenger informing the coming of Jesus Christ to the Virgin Mary.

It was widely believed amongst bishops in Eqypt that guardian angels were watching over all people inhabiting the Earth.

The transformation of angels was portrayed prominently in the tale of Lucifer, an angel who was associated with the planet Venus, the morning star. Legend has it that out of his pride of wanting to become the top star-god, he was cast down from the Olympus Mount. Another version recognized Lucifer as the snake that incited Adam and Eva to commit sin, which led to the expulsion from the Eden Garden.

Archangel Gabriel visited Mary. (Public Domain)

(Pixabay)

Traces of angels in later phases

European artists began to depict angels as winged entities in the 4th century AD. By the 12-13th century, angelic images were widespread in art and familiar to the people.

(Pixabay)

St. Francis of Assisi, the designated patron saint of Italy was said to be once visited by an angel who had flaming wings and between the wings appeared a vision of a crucified man. St. Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, was also cited to have met the angel Seraphim during her days in the 16th century.

In August 1914, during World War I, when British and French troops were forced to retreat from the battlefield by the Germans, wounded soldiers claimed that they saw an angel coming along to help them in fighting against the enemy. The French soldiers believed it was the archangel Michael while British soldiers assumed that was Saint George. (Michael and St. George are thought by some people to be one and the same). However, they all referred to a tall, blond man in golden armor with a calm face.

In later reports, the Germans admitted that at the time they could not move forward. Their horses were frightened, forced to turn around and run away. Because of this event, the angel was later known as the “Angel of Mons”.

(Pixabay)

Modern people and the belief in the existence of angels

Today, angelic images are seen everywhere, in popular songs, musical plays, and romantic novels. Statues of angels are also placed in many gardens and parks, most of which depict beautiful, holy angels. Tiny angelic images show up on charming pieces of jewelry and clothing. The concept of angels obviously is not only restricted to religions but also wildly popular in the secular world.

Angels still hold a strong presence in the consciousness of a majority of the American people. According to several surveys conducted by the Gallup organization in 2008, 55% of the American population believe that angels directly influence their lives by protecting them from harm and disasters.

(Pixabay)

Baylor University sociologist Carson Mencken cited numerous cases where insiders claimed to be protected by guardian angels in the face of accidents, disasters or other unexpected incidents.

It all affirms the conviction that angels are the messengers of God, who carry His message, deliver His mercy and sometimes, bring warning to humans in times of depravity.

(The cover photo from Pixabay)