Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Angels is Swell
I was reading about the Holy Child of Aracoeli (as people often do), and was a bit puzzled when I came across one of those pious traditions. The story goes that the Franciscan friar, who was creating the statue, ran out of paints. Then, a helpful, bonny angel showed up and completed the statue.
This all gave rise to a question: can angels create art? I floated the question to friends and family, and looked to the Summa Theologica for some help. St. Thomas Aquinas did not mention the matter, although he did have some very interesting things to say about angels.
Go to, go to the basics. The Hebrew words for "image" and "likeness" are "selem" and "demut" (respectively). The Greek words are "ikon" and "homoyosis." While the angels may have a more perfect image of God as regards their intellectual nature, the word denotes something static - whereas homoyosis indicates a dynamic orientation. (Thank goodness I kept my O.T. notes!) Only man is created in the likeness of God, and only man is rational and has the ability to sub-create (so to speak). As such, art is "a purely human thing" to quote Jacques Maritain.
Angels don't need art, either. The purpose of art is to draw us to Truth. No good angel is removed from Truth so why would they need to be led back to it?
Furthermore, angels cannot manipulate matter unless God so wills it.
I think that angels can appreciate, art, though - not in the way mankind necessarily does. What say you?
(thank you to friends, family, and the number "G" who bent their thought thissaway)