“How great is the dignity of souls, that each person has from birth received an angel to protect it.”
St. Thérèse of Lisieux

The Catechism clearly affirms, “The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls ‘angels’ is a truth of faith.  The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition” (#328).  Given that we do believe in angels, we define them as pure spirits and personal beings with intelligence and free will.  They are immortal beings.  As the Bible attests, they appear to humans as apparitions with a human form.

Since the 4th century, nine choirs or types of angels are identified in the Bible and have been elaborated upon by various theologians:  The first three choirs see and adore God directly.  The seraphim, which means “the burning ones,” have the most intense “flaming” love for God and comprehend Him with the greatest clarity.  (Interestingly, Lucifer, which means “light bearer,” was one of the seraphim whose beautiful light was changed into darkness.)  The cherubim, which means “fullness of wisdom,” contemplate God’s divine providence and plan for His creatures.  Lastly, the thrones, symbolizing divine justice and judicial power, contemplate God’s power and justice.

The next three choirs fulfill God’s providential plan for the universe:  The dominations or dominions, whose name evokes authority, govern the lesser choirs of angels.  The virtues, whose name originally suggested power or strength, implement the orders from the dominations and govern the heavenly bodies.  Lastly, the powers confront and fight against any evil forces opposed to God’s providential plan.

The last three choirs are directly involved in human affairs:  The principalities care for earthly principalities, such as nations or cities.  The archangels deliver God’s most important messages to mankind, while each angel serves as a guardian for each of us.  Although not official dogma, this schema became popular in the Middle Ages in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, Dante, Hildegard of Bingen, and John Scotus Erigina.

Nevertheless, we believe that Almighty God created the angels before the rest of creation.  At some point, some angels, led by Lucifer, did rebel against God.  These angels made a free choice, radically and irrevocably rejecting God and His rule.  Therefore, they were cast into hell.  This event is mentioned, albeit briefly, in several passages of the New Testament:  St. Peter wrote, “Did God spare even the angels who sinned?  He did not!  He held them captive in Tartarus [hell] — consigned them to pits of darkness, to be guarded until judgment” (I Peter 2:3).  In the Letter of St. Jude we read, “There were angels, too, who did not keep to their own domain, who deserted their dwelling place.  These the Lord has kept in perpetual bondage, shrouded in murky darkness against the judgment of the great day.  Sodom, Gomorrah, and the towns thereabouts indulged in lust, just as those angels did; they practiced unnatural vice.  They are set before us to dissuade us, as they undergo a punishment of eternal fire.” (Jude 6-7).  When Jesus spoke of the Last Judgment and the need to serve the least of our brethren, He said to the unrighteous, “Out of my sight, you condemned, into that everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).  Always remember that these fallen angels– the devil and demons– had been created good, but by their own free will chose to sin and turn away from God.

A key to understanding angels is by looking at what they do.  First, angels see, praise, and worship God in His divine presence.  Jesus said, “See that you never despise one of these little ones.  I assure you, their angels in heaven constantly behold my heavenly Father’s face” (Matthew 18:10), a passage which also indicates that each of us has a guardian angel.  The Book of Revelation described how the angels surround the throne of God and sing praises (cf. Revelation 5:11ff, 7:11ff).  Moreover, they rejoice over the saved soul of the repentant sinner (Luke 15:10).

Second, angel comes from the Greek angelos which means “messenger,” which describes their role in interacting with this world.  St. Augustine stated that angels were “the mighty ones who do His word, hearkening to the voice of His word.”  Throughout Sacred Scripture, the angels served as messengers of God, whether delivering an actual message of God’s plan of salvation, rendering justice, or providing strength and comfort.  Here are a few examples of their role as messengers in the Old Testament:  After the Fall of Adam and Eve and their expulsion, the cherubim guarded the entrance to the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24).  Angels protected Lot and his family in Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19).  The angel stopped Abraham as he was about to offer Isaac in sacrifice (Genesis 22).  An angel guarded the people on the way to the Promised Land (Exodus 23:20). In the New Testament, an angel appeared to the centurion Cornelius and prompted his conversion (Acts 10:1ff); and an angel freed St. Peter from prison (Acts 12:1ff).  In all, Hebrews 1:14 captured their role well:  “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to serve those who are to inherit salvation?”

Sacred Scripture identifies by name three angels, who are the great messengers of God–  Sts. Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel.  They are called archangels because of their important roles in God’s plan.  St. Michael, whose name means, “one who is like God,” led the army of angels who cast Satan and the rebellious angels into hell; at the end of time, he will wield the sword of justice to separate the righteous from the evil (Cf. Revelation 12:7-0).  St. Gabriel, whose name means “strength of God,” announced to Mary that she had been chosen as the Mother of the Savior (cf. Luke 1:26-38).  St. Raphael, whose name means “remedy of God,” cured the blind man Tobit (cf. Tobit 5).

The angels are also our guardians.  The Catechism states, “From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession” (#336).  St. Basil (d. 379) asserted, “Beside each believer stands an angel protector and shepherd leading him to life.”  Most of us at an early age learned the little prayer to our guardian angel:  “Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here.  Ever this day be at my side, to light, to guard, to rule, to guide.”

Moreover, as Catholics, we remember the important role of St. Michael in defending us against Satan and the powers of evil.  Toward the end of the nineteenth century, Pope Leo XIII (d. 1903) had a prophetic vision of the coming century of sorrow and war.  In this vision, God gave Satan the choice of one century in which to do his worst work.  The devil chose this century.  So moved was the Holy Father from this vision that he composed the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel:  “St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!  Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into Hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who roam about the world seeking the ruin of souls.”  For many years, this prayer was recited at the end of Mass.  About a year ago, our Holy Father at one of his Wednesday audiences made the strong suggestion that the recitation of the prayer be instituted at Mass once again given the great evils we see present in our world– the sins of abortion, euthanasia, terrorism, genocide, and the like.

As members of the Church, we are conscious of the angels in our liturgical practices.  At Mass, in the Preface before the Eucharistic Prayer, we join with all of the angels and saints to sing the hymn of praise, “Holy, holy, holy….”  In Eucharistic Prayer I, the priest prays, “Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven.”  In the Final Commendation of the Funeral Liturgy, the priest prays, “May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs come to welcome you and take you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem.”  Moreover, we celebrate in our liturgical calendar the Feasts of the Archangels (September 29) and Guardian Angels (October 2).

In our daily prayers and activities, we should be mindful of these servants of God who by His love keep our lives safe from harm and guide us on the path of salvation.

Source Catholic Answers

The Nine Choirs of Angels


These are the highest order or choir of angels. They are the angels who are attendants or guardians before God’s throne. They praise God, calling, “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord of Hosts”. the only Bible reference is Isaiah 6:1-7. One of them touched Isaiah’s lips with a live coal from the altar, cleansing him from sin. Seraphim have six wings, two cover their faces, two cover their feet, and two are for flying.


Cherubim rank after the seraphim and are the second highest in the nine hierarchies or choirs of angels. The Old Testament does not reveal any evidence that the Jews considered them as intercessors or helpers of God. They were closely linked in God’s glory. They are manlike in appearance and double-winged and were guardians of God’s glory. They symbolized then, God’s power and mobility. In the New Testament, they are alluded to as celestial attendants in the Apocalypse (Rv 4-6). Catholic tradition describes them as angels who have an intimate knowledge of God and continually praise Him.


Thrones are the Angels of pure Humility, Peace and Submisssion. They reside in the area of the cosmos where material form begins to take shape. The lower Choir of Angels need the Thrones to access God.


Dominions are Angels of Leadership. They regulate the duties of the angels, making known the commands of God.


Virtues are known as the Spirits of Motion and control the elements. They are sometimes referred to as “the shining ones.” They govern all nature. They have control over seasons, stars, moon; even the sun is subject to their command. They are also in charge of miracles and provide courage, grace, and valor.


Powers are Warrior Angels against evil defending the cosmos and humans. They are known as potentates. They fight against evil spirits who attempt to wreak chaos through human beings. The chief is said to be either Samael or Camael, both angels of darkness.


Archangels are generally taken to mean “chief or leading angel” ( Jude 9; 1 Thes 4:16), they are the most frequently mentioned throughout the Bible. They may be of this or other hierarchies as St. Michael Archangel, who is a princely Seraph. The Archangels have a unique role as God’s messenger to the people at critical times in history and salvation (Tb 12:6, 15; Jn 5:4; Rv 12:7-9) as in The Annunciation and Apocalypse. A feast day celebrating the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael is celebrated throughout the Church Sep 29. A special part of the Byzantine Liturgy invokes the “Cherubic Hymn” which celebrates these archangels and the guardian angels particularly.

Of special significance is St. Michael as he has been invoked as patron and protector by the Church from the time of the Apostles. The Eastern Rite and many others place him over all the angels, as Prince of the Seraphim. He is described as the “chief of princes” and as the leader of the forces of heaven in their triumph over Satan and his followers. The angel Gabriel first appeared in the Old Testament in the prophesies of Daniel, he announced the prophecy of 70 weeks (Dn 9:21-27). He appeared to Zechariah to announce the birth of St. John the Baptist (Lk 1:11). It was also Gabriel which proclaimed the Annunciation of Mary to be the mother of our Lord and Saviour. (Lk 1:26) The angel Raphael first appeared in the book of Tobit (Tobias)Tb 3:25, 5:5-28, 6-12). He announces “I am the Angel Raphael, one of the seven who stand before the throne of God.” (Tb 12:15)


In the New Testament Principalities refers to one type of spiritual (metaphysical) being which are now quite hostile to God and human beings. (Rom 8:38; 1 Cor 15:24; Eph 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Col 1:16; 2:10, 15) Along with the principalities are the powers (Rom 8:38; 1 Cor 15:24; Eph 1:21; 1 Pt 3:22; 2 Thes 1:7); and cosmological powers (1 Cor 15:24; Eph 1:21; 3:10; Col 2:15);Dominions (Eph 1:21; Col 1:16) and thrones (Col1:16). The clarity of the New Testament witness helps see that these beings were created through Christ and for Him (Col 1:16). Given their hostility to God and humans due to sin, Christ’s ultimate rule over them (ibid) expresses the reign of the Lord over all in the cosmos. This is the Lordship of Christ, which reveals God’s tremendous salvation in conquering sin and death at the cross, and now takes place in the Church. (Eph 3:10)


These angels are closest to the material world and human begins. They deliver the prayers to God and God’s answers and other messages to humans. Angels have the capacity to access any and all other Angels at any time. They are the most caring and social to assist those who ask for help.

Source: Catholic Online