Placement of angels in the church signify that they are present themselves
Year mention: 1617
Visual tradition/Artistic model vs. written Tradition/History

Example of suitable decoration for churches

Molanus, Johannes
Frostispiece of Molanus, De historia sanctarum imaginum et picturarum (1617), Antwerp, Gasparus Bellerus
Frontispiece of Molanus, De historia sanctarum imaginum et picturarum (1617), Antwerp, Gasparus Bellerus
Augsburg, Staats- und Stadtbibliothek — Th H 1475. Digital Reproduction: München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 2015.

In book 2, ch. 18, Molanus gives several examples of iconographic traditions of his time which, according to him, are suitable for the decoration of churches. He does not so much regard them from an esthetical point of view and neither from a mere iconographical point of view, instead his main point of interest is how well-established the stories are on which they are based. This is in line with the argument he first discusses in this chapter.
This last example of the chapter regards the depiction of Angels in churches, which does not only have a decorative purpose since it underlines the dogma of the Angels being present during the immolation of Christ.

“Finally, the Church has willingly placed the angels on the columns of the altars to signify that the angelic spirits are there, present in person when the dreaded sacrifice of the mass takes place; on this subject, there is this word of St. Ambrose: ‘one cannot doubt that the angel is there when Christ is immolated.'”

“Angelos praeterea in columnis altarium libenter statuit Ecclesia ad significandum quod tremendis illis Missae sacrificiis Angelici spiritus coram et presentes assistant, iuxta illud Ambrosii, non enim dubites assistere Angelum, quando Christas assistit immolatur. Sed haec postmodum commodius prosequemur.”

Quoted Authorities

St. Ambrose, Luca, ch. 1 Idem, lib. 3, ch. 40.

Angels, Christ, column

Date mention

Historical Location

Iconclass Number

Molanus, De historia sanctarum imaginum et picturarum (1617), book 2, ch. 18, 79

Molanus 1996, 174.

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