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Area(s) Reported: Worldwide
Date(s) Reported: Timeless

Angels are divine beings told of in the major religions based on the holy book called the Bible. These beings are most commonly described as appearing as humans with large, white feathery wings, and a glowing ring floating above their heads called a “halo”, which is a manifestation of their supernatural power. These winged angels are also usually depicted as wearing white robes, and being of a lighter European skin tone with blonde hair.

Angels are said to be messengers for the Biblical god of all things, Yahweh, who is more often simply called “God.” According to many old tales, the very presence of this almighty God near a mere human could be highly dangerous to the human... God is far beyond what most humans can mentally conceive of and handle. Because of this, angels were said to have been created to act as God’s line of communication to the human world.

In the Bible, where the earliest references to angels can be found, these beings are described in many different ways. Their variation in appearance is because angels are considered to be spirits that take on a physical form as needed, so their forms depend on the job they have to do.

Sarah laughs

In Bible stories, angels often appear as mere humans. For example, in one story three visitors stop to talk to a man named Abraham and his wife,  Sarah, to inform them she will soon give birth to a child... and, being that Sarah was ninety years old, she laughed at the idea. It was a year later, after her son "Issac" -- which is Hebrew for "one who laughs" -- was born, that Sarah understood the strangers were in fact angels, messengers from God.

Winged angels are only mentioned in two ways in the Bible ― first as decorations on a holy vessel and, second, as a vision of a six-winged angel. Other than these references, wings are not mentioned. However, angels are often described in the stories as flying, and the realm of God ― named “Heaven” ― is generally believed to be in the sky above the clouds, so the idea of wings on angels was probably a common belief very early on in Biblical history.

The Work of Angels

As already mentioned, angels were primarily the messengers of God; but they were also considered to be God’s warriors against the Devil and his demons, said in Biblical beliefs to be the representatives of all things evil. In the 13th century, Sir Thomas Aquinas [1227-1274 CE] interpreted this battle against evil to imply a protective role for angels regarding humans, so he proposed the idea of the “ guardian angel”... which was his belief that each person born is assigned an angel that follows them for life and tries to guide that person on the path to goodness, and help them during important moments in their lives.

Guardian Angels

Belief in guardian angels has become very common among followers of Biblical religions, and most modern angel encounters are described as being with guardian angels.

Beyond the Bible

Interestingly, even though there is a very set idea of what angels are supposed to look like, few people have ever reported seeing an angel with wings and a halo. Angels have believers worldwide; but most modern angel reports come from the United States of America. Modern stories often tell of strange feelings that change a person’s behavior momentarily for the better ― such as an invisible tap on the shoulder that wakes a sleeping driver ― or of unseen forces that can stop or redirect dangers. Often the presence of something is felt, but an angel is not seen.

Videos and photos claiming to be of angels sometimes show shapes similar to the winged human prototype; many feature clouds and/or lights that are similar to the classic angel shape. More often, however, videos and photos show strange shapeless lights, that are interpreted to be angels because they are associated with some form of unusual good luck or miracle that occurs about the same time the image is captured.

Angel in Charlotte?

A good example of this took place in September 2008, in a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. A 14-year-old girl named Chelsea Banton, who had a history of medical problems, lay dying of complications caused by pneumonia. Her mother, told by doctors that Chelsea had no chance to survive, asked the doctors to take her daughter off of life support, and let nature take its course. That same night, an unusual flare of light was captured on a camera that was monitoring the halls of the hospital. Within an hour of this strange event, Chelsea started to recover; her doctors were at a loss to explain it. Two months later, she was home in time to celebrate her fifteenth birthday. Both her mother and many of her nurses are convinced that the flare of light caught on the security camera was a recording of the arrival of an angel which came to save the girl.

Modern Angel Encounters

Most modern angel reports are much like the one above; a strange occurrence that is ascribed to an angel by those involved, but no actual direct encounter. This lack of distinct physical appearances shouldn’t be a surprise because angels, after all, are spirits that take form only when necessary... but there are a number of modern reports from people who believe they have encountered angels in the flesh.

On these rare occasions, like in the story of Abraham and Sarah, the angels simply appear to be humans... it is only after meeting them that it becomes clear they were more than human. Usually, the “angel” is a person who appears at just the right moment to offer exactly the right help, or they appear as a person who needs help to test the kindness of those they meet.


In many cases, they vanish mysteriously... they step off trains without ever arriving on the platform, or step out of cars and vanish without leaving footprints behind in new snow. Presumably these angels, having done what they were sent to do, no longer need physical bodies and become spirits once more.

See also: The Devil & his Demons
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  • Angels & Ghosts: Angel Sightings, 2009 website. Online: Click here!
  • Angels Online, 2009 website maintained by Terry Ross. Online: Click here!
  • Bible, The Holy: King James’ Edition, standard.
  • "Did an angel save girl from dying in hospital?," by Mike Celizic, December 23, 2008, TODAY show website. Online: Click here!
  • Mysteries of the Bible: Biblical Angels, video, 1996 A&E Television Networks, hosted by Richard Kiley and Jean Simmons.
  • Touched by an Angel, by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1993 Warner Books, USA. ISBN: 0-446-67033-2

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