Angels may be heard on high this holiday season, but according to one Catholic church official, they don’t have wings.
Catholic Church "angelologist" Father Renzo Lavatori says angels do exist, but are surrounded by shards of light, not wings, according to a Sky News report.
"I think there is a re-discovery of angels in Christianity," Father Lavatori said at a conference in Rome this week. But he suggests the traditional portrayal of angels as winged cherubs is not accurate.
"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," Lavatori added.
The senior clergyman participated in a debate on angelic art by an Italian art foundation held at the Vatican-owned Palazzo della Cancelleria.
Art historian Professor Valerio Massimo Manfredi said the first mention of the word "angelos" came more than 3,000 years ago from the Mycenaean civilization in Greece. Angelos means "messenger" in ancient Greek.
Monsignor Giovanni Tonucci, head of the Loreto Marian sanctuary, said the lack of a defined form had allowed artists to let their creative imaginations run wild.
"You have to understand that these are not real representations. Angels do not have wings or look like cherubs," Father Lavatori said.
The Catholic clergyman is also a "demonologist" and says angels are more vital now than ever. "There is a lot more interference from diabolical forces. That is why you see queues of people outside the exorcists' offices in churches," Lavatori said.
"Pope Francis 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," he said.