Angels In The Middle Ages
Life in the middle ages was very different from life as we know it now. Angels were very popular and still were around every day.
BY: Catherine Wishart
Angels were very popular in the Middle Ages and appeared all over the place, in the media, in art and in discussions just as they do today. Theologians and philosophers would discuss such questions as what are angels made of, do they live forever, do they have free will and do they evolve to higher spiritual realms. Can you imagine a group of important business men sitting around talking about such things today?
Life in the middle ages was very different from life as we know it now. For one thing the Catholic Church was the governing force and made decisions about nearly every facet of daily life that affected common people. Secondly, media in the middle ages was much different than media today. There was no printing press so therefore no newspapers, magazines or books of mass production. The few books that did exist were handwritten by monks and kept in monasteries.
Most people couldn’t read simply because there were no books for them to read. The forms of media that did exist in the middle ages were sermons, prayers, stained glass windows, art, lectures and icons.
Stained glass windows adorned the interior of churches not only to look beautiful but also to tell a story much like a picture book or comic strip with each picture window building on the window before. Icons were painted on wood and were used as meditation tools to make direct contact with the being represented. So if you had an icon with a picture of an angel you could gaze at the picture and connect to the energy of the angel. Today people use tarot cards or angel cards in much the same way.
Get a picture of an angel…
Lectures were a major source of entertainment for people in the middle ages. People would go see lectures in big venues and hotly discuss the topic and points made with their friends on the way home afterwards just like when you go and see a movie today. One of the most famous lecturers was Thomas Aquinas who was also known as the angelic doctor because his knowledge of Angels was so great.
Thomas would lecture about 15 times each week. He was made a saint less than 50 years after he died.
Thomas was an Italian theologian who specialized in the study of angels although he never had a single direct experience with angels himself. All his knowledge came from reading the bible and from the depth of his own education and intellect.
He believed that angels were pure intellect, that they didn’t have a body but that they could appear in human form at will. He thought each angel was a separate species and a unique being rather than belonging to an ‘angelic race.’ Thomas believed that angels came from a higher sphere than humans. His train of thought was the most popular in its time.
Another angel expert was John Dun Scotus. John believed angels were a distinct species or race of beings made up of spiritual matter. He thought angels could think and reason just like humans do only they were more perfect (or divine) in their thinking and reasoning. John said each angel had his or her own personality and that angels were higher on the spiritual hierarchy than humans but approachable to humans as intercessors between the earthly realm and the spiritual realms. He believed angels were similar to humans in appearance but made of finer matter. Personally I tend to agree with John’s opinions rather than St Thomas.’ Whose opinions do you like best?
After the middle ages there was not much discussion about angels anymore mainly because both men had debated about angels so thoroughly there was not much else left to discuss.