Angels Exist But Have No Wings, Says Church
Angels really do exist but do not have wings and are more like shards of light, according to a church official.
Catholic Church "angelologist" Father Renzo Lavatori says the celestial beings are back in vogue thanks to various New Age religions.
But he insists that the traditional portrayal of angels as hovering, winged cherubs rather misses the mark.
"I think there is a re-discovery of angels in Christianity," Father Lavatori said at a conference on angels at a lavishly-frescoed Renaissance palace in Rome.
"You do not see angels so much as feel their presence - they are a bit like sunlight that refracts on you through a crystal vase," he added.
The senior clergyman was taking part in a debate this week on angelic art by the Fondazione Archivio Storico, an Italian art foundation.
It was held at the Vatican-owned Palazzo della Cancelleria.
Art historian Professor Valerio Massimo Manfredi said the first mention of the word "angelos" came from the Mycenaean civilisation in Greece more than 3,000 years ago.
The word means "messenger" in ancient Greek.
Monsignor Giovanni Tonucci, head of the Loreto Marian sanctuary, said that angels were "pure souls".
Their lack of a defined form had allowed artists through the ages to let their creative imagination run wild.
"Following the cultural history of angels is following the history of humanity, or at least of our civilisation," the conference organisers said.
"Angels have helped drive religious and philosophical thought and have given birth to sublime forms of poetic and artistic expression," they said.
Father Lavatori said the popularised image of angels is a necessary result of their being "back in fashion" but is dismissive of all the angel art around Christmas.
"There is space for that, but you have to understand that these are not real representations. Angels do not have wings or look like cherubs," he said.
The widely-published Catholic clergyman is also a "demonologist" and says angels are more needed than ever.
This is because increasing secularisation and materialism in society have left an "open door" for the devil, he said.
"There is a lot more interference from diabolical forces. That is why you see queues of people outside the exorcists' offices in churches," he said.
"Pope Francis talks more about the devil than about angels and I think rightly so. But it's still early, he will get round to the angels too."
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