A top Italian priest has risked the wrath of the world’s Christians by claiming that, although angels exists, they are more like shards of light than winged cherubs resembling humans.
Father Renzo Lavatori, who describes himself as an ‘angelologist’, says that belief in angels has grown enormously in recent years, a trend he attributes to a modern Christianity absorbing and drawing influence from New Age beliefs.
Although Father Lavatori says acceptance of angels is very much “back in fashion”, he adds that many Christians are simply doing it wrong.
Rather than the long accepted idea of an angel as a winged, chubby-cheeked child, Father Lavatori claims that they are in fact not even visible in a recognisable, physical form.
“You do not see angels so much as feel their presence… They are a bit like sunlight that refracts on you through a crystal vase,” Father Lavatori said.
The priest made his remarks as part of a debate on angelic art hosted by the Fondazione Archivio Storico and held in the Vatican-owned Palazzo della Cancelleria.
During the speech Father Lavatori was a particularly dismissive of the many angelic symbols seen around Christmas time, saying: “There is space for that, but you have to understand that these are not real representations. Angels do not have wings or look like cherubs”.
As well as being an expert in angels, Father Lavatori is also a renowned “demonologist”. He claims that, in a wolrd increasingly secularised and materialistic, angels are needed more than ever because society has left an “open door” for the devil.
Father Lavatori said: “There is a lot more interference from diabolical forces. That is why you see queues of people outside the exorcists' offices in churches”.
Speaking of Pope Francis’ views on angels, Father Lavatori said: “[He] talks more about the devil than about angels and I think rightly so. But it's still early, he will get round to the angels too”.