Angels in Renaissance Art


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The basics about the Catholic hierarchy of Angels, to support learning in Italian Renaissance Art subjects.

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Angels in Renaissance Art

  1. 1. ANGELS in Italian Renaissance Art
  2. 2. Angels in Catholicism are intermediaries between God and humans, they are servants and messengers, and attendants to Gods throne.
  3. 3. The catechism of the Catholic Church declares: “The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls Angels is a truth of faith”
  4. 4. Angels have a significant role in Christian history: annunciation to the Virgin…
  5. 6. announcing Christ’s birth…
  6. 7. protecting Christ in the wilderness…
  7. 8. expelling Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden…
  8. 9. grieving Christ’s death…
  9. 10. announcing Christ’s resurrection to the three Mary’s…
  10. 11. and announcing the Virgin Mary’s impending death.
  11. 12. St Thomas Aquinas outlined a complex hierarchy of nine choirs of angels divided into three groups…
  12. 13. 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.
  13. 14. 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.
  14. 15. 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
  15. 16. 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.
  16. 17. 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.
  17. 18. 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
  18. 19. THIRD HIERARCHY Seventh Choir Principalities – They are protectors of religion, providing strength in times of hardship. They keep watch over nations and their leaders.
  19. 20. 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.
  20. 21. 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.