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Angels of the Churches

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St. John in the Apocalypse is shown seven candlesticks and in their midst, the Son of Man holding seven stars ( Revelation 1:13, 20 ). The candlesticks represent the seven Churches of Asia ; the stars, the angels of those Churches. He is bidden to write to the respective angels of those Churches and distribute to each his meed of praise or blame. Origen (Hom., xiii in Luc., and Hom., xx in Num.) explains that these are the guardian angels of the Churches, a view upheld by Dean Alford. But St. Epiphanius (Hær., xxv) explicitly rejects this view, and, in accordance with the imagery of the passage, explains it of the bishops. The comparison of a teacher to a star is quite Scriptural ( Daniel 12:3 ). St. Augustine's reason for interpreting angels of the Churches as the prelates of the church is that St. John speaks of them as falling from their first charity which is not true of the angels [Ep., xliii (al. clxii), n. 22].

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