The Choirs of Angels, According to Aquinas

Let’s delve into the angelic hierarchy, according to St. Thomas Aquinas

Today, we embark on a celestial journey—literally celestial, even if not literally a physical journey. Let’s delve into the angelic hierarchy as proposed by St. Thomas Aquinas, the “Angelic Doctor.”

The Angelic Doctor

Aquinas is known as the “Angelic Doctor” because of his significant contributions to angelology, which is the study of angels. His “Summa Theologica,” includes an extensive section on angels, where he discusses their nature, hierarchy, and roles. Aquinas’ insights and teachings about angels, combined with his deep spirituality and holiness, earned him this unique title.

Angelic Hierarchy

Aquinas’ angelic hierarchy is based on the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, a 5th-century Greek theologian, and is divided into three spheres, each containing three orders or choirs, making a total of nine choirs of angels.

The first sphere, closest to God, includes the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones. Aquinas believed these choirs to be the most enlightened, their primary role being to contemplate God’s divine glory. Lucifer was likely a seraph.

The second sphere consists of the Dominions, Virtues, and Powers. These angels are involved in the governance of the universe and the implementation of divine will.

The third and final sphere, according to Aquinas, includes the Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. These are the messengers, the guardians of nations and individuals on earth.

It’s interesting to consider that the fallen angels, though largely restricted due to the Cross of Christ, retained their angelic natures and characteristics even after they fall. A higher angel before the fall is a higher demon after its fall. An angel intended to be a guardian (of a nation, or a person) is probably an angel (demon) that vexes their intended charge after it fell. Perhaps the intended guardian of a nation or person is its main antagonist after that angel fell.

Aquinas’ interpretation of the choirs of angels provides a structured view of the heavenly hierarchy, reflecting the ordered universe where every being has a specific role and purpose. His perspective on the choirs of angels offers a unique lens through which we can explore the celestial hierarchy. It’s a testament to his deep mind and his ability to intertwine theology with philosophy and logical analysis, providing us with thought-provoking insights into the realm of God and His creation.

Ave Maria, Virgo Fidelis!

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