The most powerful hierarchy of Angels of the Catholic Church was proposed by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in the book De Coelesti Hierarchia written by him in the 4th or 5th century. According to the Christian theologians of the medieval period, the angles are arranged into Angelic Choirs. From the New Testament, Pseudo-Dionysius and Thomas Aquinas derived information to create a scheme of three hierarchies, triads or sheres of angles. The hierarchies of the angels of the Catholic Church are mentioned below.
The angels of the first sphere serve as the heavenly servants of God the Son incarnated. It includes the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones.
- Seraphim: Seraphim belong to the highest angelic class and are the caretakers of God’s throne. They are regarded as six-winged, fiery beings.
- Cherubim: A Cherubim has four faces, one of an ox, one man, eagle and lion. They are gifted with four conjoined wings that are covered with eyes. They flaunt the body of a lion and have ox’s feet. In the Garden of Eden and the God’s throne, Cherubim guard the road to the tree of life.
- Thrones: These are a class of celestial beings, which are mentioned in the New Testament. They are symbols of authority and God’s justice. The throne depicts one of their symbols.
Second Sphere angels are considered to work as heavenly governors of creation by subjecting the matter and ruling and guiding the spirits. The second sphere includes the Dominions or Lordships Virtues and the Strongholds Powers or Authorities.
- Dominions or Lordships: The Dominions are depicted as hierarchy of the celestial beings who regulate duties of the lower angels. Rarely angelic lords appear in front of humans. Dominions resemble angels and look ethereal with a beautiful pair of wings. They differ from other celestial beings by flashing a globe of light fastened to pommel of their swords or sceptres on their heads.
- Virtues or Strongholds: These celestial beings are the ministries for making miracles and signs in the world. They are infused with godlike, profound energy and are bestowed with illuminations and endow others with virtues.
- Powers or Authorities: These warrior angles fight against the evil spirits in the world. These heavenly creatures are considered to be fully armoured soldiers and equipped with weapons, such as spheres, chains or shields. Their primary task is to keep the Universe in order by supervising the movements and activities of the other heavenly bodies. Their responsibility is to see the even distribution of powers among the human race and hence they have got their name.
The angels of the third sphere function as heavenly protectors, messengers and guides, to the human beings.
- Principalities or Rulers: These are protective angels that guide and safe guard the Church, people and nations. Some of these principalities or angles are entrusted with the work of governance and others with assistance. These principalities are depicted, wearing crowns and having a sceptre. They perform the duties entrusted to theme by the upper sphere of angels. They are the guardians and educators of the earth.
- Archangels: There are seven archangels who are the guardians of the nations and countries and they look after the politics, trade and commerce.
- Angels: These are the common, most popular, recognized and the lowest order of angles that are sent to earth as messengers to serve the human race.
This is the most popular and influential angelic hierarchy of the Catholic Church.