The Art of Angels - Seraphim

'The holy designation of the Seraphim denotes either that they are kindling or burning; . . .  The appellation of Seraphim plainly teaches their ever moving around things Divine, and constancy, and warmth, and keenness, and the seething of that persistent, indomitable, and inflexible perpetual motion, and the vigorous assimilation and elevation of the subordinate, as giving new life and rekindling them to the same heat; and purifying through fire and burnt-offering, and the light-like and light-shedding characteristic which can never be concealed or consumed, and remains always the same, which destroys and dispels every kind of obscure darkness.'
  Psueo-Dionysus drew his inspiration from the vivid description in Isaiah:
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the Seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. Ch.6 v 1 - 3
(The generally accepted plural is seraphim, singular seraph, but the King James version goes its own way).
  In Hebrew, 'Seraphim' means fiery ones.  The description of their six wings and fiery nature has been followed closely in art.


Baptistery, Florence. The higher figures are the seraphim.

Medieval Icon by Theophanes the Greek
Seraphim are the most senior of all the angels, and their function is to glorify God, and not to concern themselves with Earthly matters. There is. however, one legendary exception: The stigmatisation of St Francis was traditionally performed by a seraph. This is drawn from the writings of the Franciscan thologian Bonaventure, who had a lot to say about them in The Journey of the Mind to God. This idea is intended to support the notion of Francis as the new Christ.

Upper Church, San Francesco, Assisi.
Attributed to Giotto but almost certainly not by him.

Fra Angelico: Pinacoteca. Vatican
This later version by Domenico Ghirlandaio from Santa Trinita in Florence is interesting  in showing the seraphim as children: this is an approach to the depiction of angels we will look at in detail later.
Angelic Hierarchy Introduction                                                                          Angels page 1

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