The Art of Angels - Principalities and Angels

The lowest tier of the Heirarchy is concerned with what hapens on Earth, and the people living there; they are the human resources managers.   Principalities, also known as Princes, keep an eye on Government; nations, tribes or groups of people, and organisations such as the church. Pseudo-Dionysus writes one of his spendidly impenetrable sentences:
'The Heavenly Principalities manifest their princely and leading function, after the Divine example, with order religious and most befitting the Princely, and their being wholly turned to the super-princely Prince, and leading others in princely fashion, and being moulded, as far as possible, to that prince-making Princedom Itself, and to manifest its superessential princely order, by the regularity of the princely powers.

As with Powers, they are presented as military figures, though with the addition of a crown to fit their title. In the case of the Florence baptistery mosaic, the crowns are rather small ones.


Guariento D'Arpo
Angels are the lowest level of the nine, responsible for the more humdrum, routine tasks associated with us human beings, such as delivering messages and warnings. Messages of great significance are delivered by Archangels, as in the New Testament.
  As a change from the usual procedure I'm going to look at just one angelic task, and one work of art. That task? Guardian angels.
  There has been much debate over these angels as to whether each person has one angel assigned to them, or whether the angels look after a group of people. Mathew 18 v 10 makes an interesting reference. Christ is talking about children: 

‘Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.’
       This does rather hint at one each. It would seem that St Peter had an angel, a hard working one no doubt. It gets a mention in Act chapter 12:
And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, it is his angel.'

The artwork is from the cathedral in my home town of Winchester. The Guardan Angels chapel was decorated around 1240 by Master William, the King's painter. The work is contemporary with the building of the chapel. It was restored in 1959 and 1960. The chapel is named after the images: it is not clear whether there was an earlier dedication.


Angelic Hierarchy Introduction                                                                          Angels page 1

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