announcing Christ’s resurrection to the three Mary’s…
and announcing the Virgin Mary’s impending death.
St Thomas Aquinas outlined a complex hierarchy of nine choirs of angels divided into three groups…
FIRST HIERARCHY First Choir: Seraphim – The highest order of angels that guard God’s throne, also known as ‘burning ones’ as they are aflame with love for God. Isaiah envisioned them with six wings.
FIRST HIERARCHY Second Choir: Cherubim – meaning ‘fullness of knowledge’, are God’s record keepers and observers of the primal creative power of God. In ancient depictions, each one had four wings and four different faces.
FIRST HIERARCHY Third Choir: Thrones – Known as the chariots of God, resembling burning wheels with rims ‘full of eyes round about’ according to Ezekiel. They are charged with carrying out God’s justice according to universal laws
SECOND HIERARCHY Fourth Choir Dominions – Regulate the activities of other angels to assure they carry out God’s will. They are shown as holding an orb or a scepter as a symbol of authority.
SECOND HIERARCHY Fifth Choir Virtues – Entrusted with the movement of heavenly bodies and the operations of nature, drawing on God’s power to work miracles on earth.
SECOND HIERARCHY Sixth Choir Powers – Preserve order in the world and keep it from being overthrown by demons. Powers avenge evil acts and protect human souls
THIRD HIERARCHY Seventh Choir Principalities – They are protectors of religion, providing strength in times of hardship. They keep watch over nations and their leaders.
THIRD HIERARCHY Eighth Choir Archangels – Chief angels. They look after human affairs as they relate to God’s will. Holy messengers of God, carrying important decrees to humans. They command God’s armies and act as guardian angels to leaders of world’s movements.
THIRD HIERARCHY Ninth Choir Angels – Include guardian angels who are assigned by God to every human being at the time of his or her birth.