A Royal Nun Sees Her Angel

In the service of Holy Baptism, the priest specifically prays that God will assign an “angel of light” to the life of the child being baptized. In Matthew 18:10, Christ makes reference to the guardian angels of children who “always behold the face of my Father.” Their role is the guarding of our salvation. It is the work of God’s “secret hand” in our lives. That secret, however, is sometimes seen openly. More than once I have heard stories of children seeing their angels. My favorite is told by Mother Alexandra (the former Princess Ileana of Romania) in her small book, The Holy Angels. It tells of her experience at age seven.

Today (November 8) is the Feast of St. Michael and All the Bodiless Powers of Heaven. I give God thanks for the angels in our lives – both secret as well as those known!

It was early morning, when I was seven years old, that I saw the angels. I am as sure of it now as I was then. I was not dreaming, nor “seeing things” – I just know they were there, plainly, clearly, distinctly. I was neither astonished nor afraid. I was not even awed – I was only terribly pleased. I wanted to talk to them and touch them.

Our night nursery was lit by the dawn and I saw a group of angels standing, as if chatting, around my brother’s bed. I was aware of this, although I could not hear their voices. They wore long flowing gowns of various soft-shaded colors. Their hair came to their shoulders, and different in color from fair and reddish to dark brown. They had no wings. At the foot of my brother Mircea’s bed stood one heavenly being, a little aside from the others – taller he was, and extraordinarily beautiful, with great white wings. In his right hand he carried a lighted taper; he did not seem to belong to the group of angels gathered around the bed. He clearly stood apart and on watch. I knew him to be the guardian angel. I then became aware that at the foot of my own bed stood a similar celestial creature. He was tall, his robe was dark blue with wide, loose sleeves. His hair was auburn, his face oval, and his beauty such as I cannot describe because it was comparable to nothing human. His wings swept high and out behind him. One hand was lifted to his breast, while in the other he carried a lighted taper. His smile can only be described as angelic; love, kindness, understanding, and assurance flowed from him. Delighted, I crawled from under the bedcovers and, kneeling up against the end of the bed, I stretched out my hand with the ardent wish to touch my smiling guardian, but he took a step back, put out a warning hand, and gently shook his head. I was so close to him I could have reached him easily. “Oh, please don’t go,” I cried; at which words all the other angels looked toward me, and it seemed I heard a silvery laugh, but of this sound I am not so certain, though I know they laughed. Then they vanished.

I was but a child when I saw my guardian angel. As time passed I still sporadically remembered and acknowledged his presence, but mostly, I ignored him…

39 comments:

  1. I was writing a little testimony lived that night, during an agrypnie for the Synaxis of Saints Archangels Michael and Gabriel, and I just read your commentary P. Stephen and I thank you for this text of Mother Alexandra that I discovered a month ago … In fact I answered your previous post that gives me good to meditate …
    In the middle of the night, with the songs, the prayers, the odes to the Holy Archangels, I really felt that the spiritual world was of “first importance”, of a greater reality, more real than anything! It was like a reversal of perspective … how attractive it was to enter into infinite and creative praise! It was “that” the truth …. and all this space of “materiality” the world of our stories, finally I express myself probably badly, became so relative, changing, without true solidity … A necessity of not to be “absorbed” by its operation, to find the “right measure” … What an abandonment to what seems so important! There are things that become derisory … It requires a constant “attention”, an almost constant “memory” of God, of the angelic world, of all this Life that breathes even in every grain of sand.
    Your thoughts on the truth and the lie have been a great challenge to me … I am not able to say more, but I feel it necessary to have a sharp conscience, to give thanks without ceasing, even and especially for the purifying sufferings, as far as possible …
    Forgive me my clumsiness of language…
    May the Saints Archangels be our protection and inspiration ….

  2. We have a beautiful children prayer in Romanian for the guardian angel. It is the first prayer children learn and then, as Mother Alexandra says, as adults we somehow drop it… It goes like this:
    Înger, îngerașul meu, (angel, my little angel)
    Ce mi te-a dat Dumnezeu, (given to me by God)
    Totdeauna fii cu mine (always be with me)
    Și mă învață să fac bine. (And teach me to do well)
    Eu sunt mic, tu fă-mă mare, (I’m small, turn me big)
    Eu sunt slab, tu fă-mă tare. (I’m weak, turn me strong)
    Și-mi tot locul mă-însoțește (and be with me in all place)
    Și de rele mă ferește. (And protect me from evil)

    I learned at some point that “ferește” (which means “protect from”/”deliver from” in Romanian) apparently means “angel” in Arabic.

  3. I saw an angel when I was in college. It never occurred to me that it might have been my guardian!

    It was a weekend night at a woman’s college and some of the girls decided to “play” with a Ouija board and have a seance. Another girl who lived on my hall decided to attend as we had nothing better to do. As things progressed, we became uneasy. When a large black eye appeared no the wall, she and I bolted, ran back to our dorm and locked our doors (it was against the rules at the college to lock your doors when you were in your room). I was terrified and all the Bible verses I could find talked about not suffering a witch to live, etc. But early in the morning, an angel came into my room. He sat on the end of my bed and said to me, “Don’t be afraid. You’ve been forgiven.” And then he left.

    It was such a short visit, it seemed to be a dream, but I am certain it wasn’t. My angel also had light hair and no wings. I think that’s what made me realize it was real – I could have never imagined an angel without wings before.

    Needless to say, that was a turning point in my life, although, like Mother Alexandra, “As time passed I still sporadically remembered and acknowledged his presence, but mostly, I ignored him…”

  4. I met mine when I was 4. I had driven my tricycle into what I thought was a big mud puddle. It turned out to be a water filled pit with vertical sides. I was dressed in a snow suit because it was just above freezing. I sank to the bottom of the pit which was about 10 feet deep. I pushed to the surface with trile in one hand but I could not get out and I was sinking again. I went down and surfaced again only to face the same issue, I could not find anything to grab onto to haul myself out. I was exhausted and started to sink again and I knew I would not come up again when an arm reached in and grabbed my arm and hauled me out. When I wiped the mud and water from my eyes, I was alone in the empty field and the nearest person was my sister over 100 yards away in our front yard. I did get a whipping for getting muddy and it was only just before my mother died that my sister told the back story to how I got so muddy.

  5. Nicholas and Fr Stephen,
    Your exchange gives me courage to say that my guardian angle appears as a seasoned, war torn warrior who has fought legions and bears the visible scars of such battle. The word pretty would not be an appropriate description, but a countenance of resolute love would describe him. His taper is a fiery sword, his other hand ready to reach for my heart as I carelessly walk into the dark abyss that would capture my soul.

  6. With great sadness, I have removed the picture accompanying this article. It seems to have an association with a questionable movie. I think there is nothing that this culture cannot sully.

  7. Thank you for this!

    When my son was about five, he awakened me in the wee hours one night to alert me his little sister was awake and wandering unattended downstairs. (He happened to be sleeping on the floor in her room because his was being painted.) When I inquired about his sister awakening him, he explained she hadn’t woken him up, rather their dad had entered the bedroom and turned on the light and that woke him. Then he noticed his sister was not in bed and found her downstairs. In the meantime, “Dad” disappeared, so he came to get me since my husband is generally very hard to waken at night, and I was usually the one to attend to my children’s night-time needs. Knowing my husband was sound asleep in our room and had been beside me all night, I asked what “Dad” was wearing. Jeans and flannel shirt (my husband’s normal daytime attire) was the answer (but my husband wears pajamas to bed). I suggested my son may have dreamed this, but he was adamant his dad came and turned on the bedroom light while my son was still asleep and that my son saw this when he awakened. The light was already on when he awoke. (The light switch was too high for his preschool sister to reach.) I could not persuade him otherwise, so I speculate perhaps it was an angel (in disguise, so as not to provoke alarm) watching over my special needs daughter.

  8. I read Mother Alexandra’s book, The Holy Angels, about 35 years ago. I have never forgotten her account of meeting the Holy Angels in her youth. So pure & vivid! I wish I had talked with her directly about it. I do not have these experiences; not even dreams. It is not a charism I have been gifted.

  9. I have never met mine but he has yelled at me a couple of times, once it prevented me from being hit by a car running a red light–a wreck in which I would certainly have been killed, my late wife had an angel guide through the New Jersey turnpike sitting on the hood of her car like a good ornament. The only one I have ever knowingly seen is the one who came for my late wife as she lay dying. My son saw the same angel but we only spoke of it a couple of years later. Tall, dressed in multi-colored robes in which red was the dominate color. Wings flowing out behind. Totally focused on my dying wife. Utterly still.
    I also have discerned their presence in worship a time or two.

  10. Fr. Stephen, I thought your readers might like to know that the book that this story was excerpted from is being reprinted by Ancient Faith Publishing, and is due in from the printers this next week! Your blog is very timely! The book is very thoroughly researched, clearly written, covering angels in both Old and New Testaments, as well as throughout history by many theologians. It is likely the best Orthodox book on the subject in English, and has been used in classes at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. It was on the top 10 book list of Light and Life Publishing for years.
    The book can be ordered from Ancient Faith or from our monastery store, email hidden; JavaScript is required . This is the monastery which Mother Alexandra founded 52 years ago, and where she wrote the book.
    thank you, in Christ,
    Mother Magdalena
    Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration

  11. Father Stephen,
    Thank you for sharing this vivid account of angels, it makes me want to see my own gaurdian angel 🙂
    I wonder why the angel mentioned above stepped back and disappeared when Mother Alexandra tried to touch him?
    And I’m going to order the book once it’s out too.

  12. I’m going to purchase this book also when it comes out.

    On the side but related, there is a medieval philosopher, Moses ben Maimon, also known as Maimonides, who, although he was a religious Jew, seems to have claimed that references to angels should not be taken literally.— I am surprised by this.

  13. I suppose he had never seen one. Over the years (including my Anglican years), I would share a story or two about angels. Invariably, the following week, a number of people would come to me privately to share their angel stories. I think people keep them secret, afraid of being thought odd or something. I’ve only ever heard one (once) and a group (once). They were singing (no surprise there). It was not English.

  14. I’m grateful for everyone’s testimony and this post.

    Once during Liturgy I became absolutely overwhelming aware that there is an angel guarding the altar of our Church. It’s kind of a long story – but our priests life had been threatened and the police determined it to be a credible threat. I found myself amazed at how brave our priest is – serving the Liturgy – and I was worried praying – how will I protect my kids if something happens. And who would protect Father – with his back to the door. And that’s when I understood that he would be fine – because there is an angel protecting the altar. I never saw the angel but was overwhelmingly and peacefully aware of his presence.

    Years lateral a Sunday School teachers dinner I learned that is our tradition that the altar of every consecrated Orthodox Churh is guarded by an angel. It was hard not to cry at that time because I only shared the story once and was met with indifference – or a aren’t your kinda weird – response. But it was an affirmation to trust in those moments.

    Also
    My daughter once when she was 4 or 5 got lost in a very crowded museum – shoulder to shoulder people – we were in a total panic and all of a sudden she came back to us. We never saw anyone bring her back. Just that she came back. Then a few years later at our monastery camp – they had a lesson on guardian angels – and my daughter went to one of the sisters afterward and told her about how her angel brought her back to her mom and dad when she got lost at the museum. It was not until the Abbess relayed it to me – that I even knew.

  15. The story is told of a priest who always saw his angel when he was serving the liturgy. Once, a young priest, serving with him, corrected him on a liturgical point that he was doing wrong. The next time the priest served, he asked his angel, “Why did you never correct me?” The angel replied, “I’m only an angel. Who am I to correct a priest?”

  16. Father, “I’m only an angel. Who am I to correct a priest”. I can here Jackie Mason. Who knew?

  17. Funny, but like all good comedy reveals the rest of the story too, that too often we non-angels feel free to do just that.

  18. I grew up Catholic & always believed in Guardian Angels & said the Catholic version of the prayer, but as I grew up I too just ignored my angel. Why ?? I realize that I have been ignoring a great source of protection & strength in my life!
    At least I know I am in good company if even Mother Alexandra did so.

  19. I had never really thought we , I, might really have Guardian Angels. What are they here to do? Can anyone tell this orthocurious Anglican in brief terms? I could certainly do with feeling more protected & nurtured, so I’m hoping a bit for that. I would also love to think of that for my family.

  20. Dear Beakerj,
    I’m not a good source of info even when I believe I’ve seen my guardian angel. I’m grateful that others report these stories. I believe the Orthodox view is that they are with us when we are baptized. But perhaps they may be ‘assigned’ before that–I don’t know. They are messengers of God and, to the best of my knowledge, we usually don’t encounter them in tangible ways unless perhaps, there is a need. Even while I have had this encounter, for reasons I can’t explain, I’m not given to dwell on it. I’m grateful for his patience, and what he has endured on my behalf. I’ll add that seeing his condition did give me pause. I do my best not to be so cavalier with my life now, though I still fail.

    I have heard other stories as well from people in my parish. And I believe them.

  21. Beakerj
    Based on Matth. 18:10 (“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”) we rightly assume that everyone has a guardian angel. In Orthodox practice, a prayer at Baptism asks that an angel guardian be assigned to the one being baptized, however, those described by Christ would not have been baptized children. In that sense, the prayer for a guardian angel at Baptism simply states out loud something that is already true.

    I have heard it said that a priest has something like 4 angels, given to him to assist in his priesthood. I have asked for specific favors from time to time of my angels – usually with very good results. An example would be, in preparing the bread and wine for the liturgy (something that takes place in the hour before the liturgy), I might be troubled in reading a name (all the names in the parish are read in the preparation) and ask one of my angels to help get them to the liturgy. Stuff like that.

    Generally, we are little aware of the work of our angels – just as we often ignore the entire work of providence that sustains us at every moment.

    Live in thanksgiving and wonder and so much more becomes apparent to us.

  22. Fr. Stephen Freeman,
    Thank You for your articles of encouragement.
    If you had trouble with the removed picture ( your comment on November 8, 2019, 1:30 pm) I remind You of removing it also from the “Related Articles”.

  23. I have heard an angel twice. The first time was when I was still a Protestant. I was hugely frustrated by the vacuity of my faith and the various churches I attended through the years. I assumed the fault was somehow mine. During one Sunday service I was so distressed that I prayed, “Please. Tell me what’s wrong with me.” Immediately a voice said, “You need to worship.” My jaw must have dropped because in a moment I understood that all those years of wanting to worship, I was being (sort of) entertained instead.

    I love that I wasn’t told, “You need to become Orthodox.” Instead, I was given a quest to find worship. Game on! About five terrifying and beautiful years later I stood at a Divine Liturgy thinking, “Hey! I’m worshipping!” I was chrismated shortly after thatr. I assume the voice that sent me on the quest was my guardian angel.

    The second time I heard an angel was during a Divine Liturgy during the communion of clergy. By then I was a catechumen. As we sang the communion hymn, “Praise the Lord,” I heard behind my right shoulder the most beautiful voice singing with us. I really couldn’t say whether it was a man or a woman; only that it was gorgeous. But the love I heard in that voice outweighed even the beauty. I just had to turn around to see who this late arrival was. When I looked, there was no newcomer and the voice fell silent.

    Twenty years later, while the clergy communes, I sometimes remember that voice and whisper, “I know you’re here.”

  24. “…Pope Gregory I…who happened to see a group of Angle children in a slave market, was struck by the unusual appearance of the slaves and asked about their background. When told they were called “Anglii” (Angles), he replied with a Latin pun that translates well into English: “Bene, nam et angelicam habent faciem, et tales angelorum in caelis decet esse coheredes” (“It is well, for they have an angelic face, and such people ought to be co-heirs of the angels in heaven”)…[from Wikipedia]
    (As Dee angelically misspelt above and corrected herself, it seemed only right to give the antecedent, although I am sure most here know it)

  25. And to Mary Stanesa, who poignantly says above that she does not have these experiences, I say that I too haven’t done so – and had even thought, “Well, they are not in the Creed after all’ – but I was totally wrong.
    They are there right at the beginning where it says “Creator of all things, visible and invisible.” As is Father Stephen’s blog title!
    When I first came into my dear little church, half my family were already children, but half were born into it. When the latter were babies, I would see them gazing intently over my shoulder or out into the room where I could see no one. I realized that being closer to heaven than I was th en, they saw angels. So, you and I, when we were infants, probably did see them then, Mary! We simply have lost the ability, as our eyes became focused on the visible.
    In our little church we had our own translation of the first lines of the beautiful Cherubim hymn. We sang:
    “Here we become, in mystery
    Icons of the cherubim…”
    (It is an accurate translation of the Greek text.)

  26. I find it somewhat intriguing that, although angelic encounters are not infrequent -as one would probably expect – in children, they are also less rare than we might expect in the greater Christian world (all the way to its outer ‘peripheries’).
    Incidentally, what is relatively frequent in traditional Greek, Russian, Romanian etc. religiosity, are encounters of desperate deliverances through the aid of the Mother of God. Most probably because it is to Her that we instinctively have learned to call out. Her miraculous rescues are countless…

  27. Sometime back I memorized this prayer and pray it each morning. Fifteen minutes ago my wife and I were out for a walk. I was looking at a tree in its beautiful fall foliage. Not paying attention to where I was walking, I stepped on her foot. We both tripped and fell on asphalt. Neither was hurt. We’re in our 70’s. Of course this does not mean that we will be safe from all accidents. But thank God for our angels and their help in this incident.

    “O Angel of Christ, holy guardian and protector of my soul and body, forgive me everything I have done to offend you every day, and protect me from all influence and temptation of the evil one. May I never offend God by my sin. Pray for me to the Lord, that He may make me worthy of the grace of the All-holy Trinity, and of the Most Blessed Theotokos, and of all the Saints. Amen.”

  28. Around the time my family became catechumens, I was napping on the couch one evening when I awoke to the sensation of another presence. The icon corner was across the room. No candle or lamp was lit, but there was a low light and the “presence” was having a conversation. It’s hard for me to describe because it wasn’t the way people talk or move or think. The “conversation” was almost liturgical if I can use that to describe it. I could see no form or face or wings but this presence and light was in front of the icon of the theotokos. I didn’t even get up or budge because I had no fear at all, just a calm and relax feeling like this was absolutely normal. I believe the angel was being “assigned” to guard our home until we were baptized. I only told this to the wife. No one else would believe it.

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