Winged Wednesdays: How Big are an Angel’s Wings?

Joan of Arc with Archangel

Today I’ve been pondering the idea of flight, and how angels would do it. An article in The Telegraph a few years ago, called Angels can’t fly, scientist says, declared that those angels on top of your Christmas Tree “did not get there under their own steam.”  Wow! Really?

The article itself talks about aerodynamics and that the modern day image of angels (which isn’t so modern apparently) is not aerodynamically sound.

This is because the average angel’s wingspan, depicted in all those medieval statues and paintings, is not possibly large enough to carry them.

But back to science and aerodynamics. Apparently, a large, human-sized male with wings would weigh about 200 lbs. In order for him to be able to fly, his wingspan would have to be about 10 meters or thirty feet to carry him. His breastbone wouldn’t be strong enough to support those wings, his shoulders would get in the way of any flapping motion, and he’d never be able to collapse those wings in a way that would make him capable of walking around–not to mention sitting on the recliner, watching TV.

Our idea of angels and what they look like comes from medieval paintings and statues–made long before people comprehended the aerodynamics of flight. As an aside here, allow me to also note that proportion and scale has been a thing that has been developed over the years. Have you seen the way horses and people were depicted back then? The scale of David’s hands, being extraordinarily large compared to other body parts? Scale.

Of course, that’s a secular view, suggesting that angels are made of flesh and bone and subject to the same laws of gravity as humans. It’s also assuming that angels even have wings to begin with.

If angels were to fly with bird-like wings, then they’d need other things as well:

  • hollow bones
  • a 10+ meter wingspan (try folding those and walking around!)
  • a breast bone or thorax region strong enough to support those wings (imagine the chiropractic bills!)
  • no arms

However, this model of angels having wings like birds also assumes that those angels only have two wings. Several passages in the Bible suggest that different ranks of angels have different wings. Isaiah 6.2 says that seraphs have six wings; Ezekiel 1:6-10 says cherubs have four. Muslim lore suggests that the angel Gabriel has 600 wings. That also changes things.

Click the image below for an excellent argument for angel wings and how avian humans would have to be built to support them:

wingspan

Click on this portion of the image to visit the original art on DeviantArt http://uzlo.deviantart.com/art/Thoughts-on-Wings-180464319

Forget all that. It reminds me of a pseudo documentary I once saw on dragons and how they would need hydrogen gas in their system and hollow bones to fly.

This is all the science side.

What about magic?

WW

The magic side allows for more flexibility. If angels fly because they, according to Christian Saint, John Chrysostom, “manifest nature’s sublimity”, then there’s all sorts of room to defy the laws of gravity. Their wings could be made of anything: clouds, sunlight, or an angelic matter not found on the earth plane.

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8 thoughts on “Winged Wednesdays: How Big are an Angel’s Wings?

    • lvoisin says:

      Thank you! I didn’t know where the source file actually was. The graphic linked to another location where I thought the graphic was, but I forgot to caption. So THANKS! I’m also happy to pull the graphic if need be.

  1. Michael Labay says:

    Modern investigators of miraculous history have solemnly admitted that a characteristic of the great saints is their power of “levitation.” They might go further; a characteristic of the great saints is their power of levity. Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly. This has been always the instinct of Christendom, and especially the instinct of Christian art. Remember how Fra Angelico represented all his angels, not only as birds, but almost as butterflies. Remember how the most earnest mediaeval art was full of light and fluttering draperies, of quick and capering feet.- G K Chesterton

  2. Mr. Hons says:

    You also have to take into account that Angels are not humans, they are everlasting immortal beings, that would mean that they probably don’t need any internal organs because they are not Organic beings. so it would be more accurate to say that they are some type of energy or spiritual being. I don’t know if energy or spiritual beings have any weight but I think the wings are more or decoration that actual flying instruments.

  3. DANA JOHNSON says:

    Im not an angel but I have wings how the h e c k (put them together) do I have wings if you have an answer please tell me I need to know why I have wings though I am not an angel let me KNOW.

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