Archangel, Seraphim, cherubim, guardians, protectors, and messages they are all angelic, winged and spiritual beings having never been incarnate in a physical body. Archangel means “chief angel”. Saint Michael is the only Archangel specifically mentioned in the bible. It’s possible that Michael is the most popular Byzantine Icon of a Guardian Angel and principle messenger of God.
Seraphim and cherubim are called the burning ones in the Old Testament appearing to the prophet Isaiah. They are described as six-winged beings that fly around the Throne of God crying “holy, holy, holy”. When we say “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty” we are honoring the angelic glory of God announced to the whole earth.
Icons of the holy angels are popular imagery. Catholic icons portray a host of Divine Protectors, Guardian Angel and spiritual beings as messengers to inspire us in our journey to God. Their gazes are filled with serene strength, holding a warriors staff, orb of wisdom, and possibly a scroll quoting the words from the Psalms. Their presence is to gladden the heart and soul of whoever sees these inspirational images at your home, office, library, monastery or chapel.
Byzantine Icons of Guardian Angels and principle messengers of God provide spiritual support when needed. To gaze upon their presence in a hallway or corner heightens our sense of being assisted or observed. They are called on to defend us in our spiritual battle. Directing our heart and mind through prayer has been the spiritual armor of thousands who call upon guardian angels.
When we think of angels, we tend to conjure images from Renaissance paintings: chubby cherubs with tiny wings; long-haired figures with flowing robes; or perhaps a heavenly warrior, outfitted in Roman armor. These depictions leave us with the impression of angels as something between greeting card characters and prototypical superheroes. But the Church’s teaching on these heavenly creatures presents us with a much richer and awe-inspiring understanding of these heavenly creatures.
The word angel is a job description. It derives from the Greek word angelos which means “messenger.” It’s a fitting title, as in Scripture angels most often act as God’s couriers. We see them appearing to Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and Mary, among many others, speaking on God’s behalf and delivering God’s message to humanity. We experience their presence through our intuition and dreams.
Carrying messages is what angels do, they are pure spirit, like God — though unlike God. Angelic beings were created for our assistance, receiving their nature and their existence from God. Like human beings, angels are persons, possessing wills and intellects; but unlike human beings, angels have no bodies, no physical or material part to them.
BYZANTINE MESSENGER ANGLES
Angelic creatures fill a gap in the great chain of being: between humans, who are physical, limited persons, and God, who is personal, non-physical, and unlimited. Aristotle reasoned that Angels are “logical fittingness”. They exist by God’s command as separate substances. Their participation in the created order shows the fullness, and plenitude of God being here and now.
Mary Jane Miller has an extensive collection of Byzantine Icon of a Guardian Angel and principle messenger of God. For more information about Mary Jane Miller and her visual ministry, visit her website at San Miguel icons. Her book collections of iconography are found by looking for Mary Jane on LULU.com Mary Jane’s wonderful workshops have been suspended due to Covid but stay tuned at Sacred Icon Retreats.
The practice of painting contemporary icons in egg tempera has quietly endured for centuries. Today, their message continues to speak across generations. Angels represent the divine messengers and unseen wisdom that we all have through inspired thought. This collection is not exactly Byzantine style. But these winged creatures remind us We Are Never Alone.