For writers, poets, painters, sculptors, and film makers, angels can present any ideas or conceptions the imagination calls up. Angels can be of any size, shape, form, or even religion. They can be the fat babies with wings, the cherubim, we see in so many Renaissance paintings. They can be magnificent, stately beings of glorious proportions standing beside Jesus or God. They take many forms in the Hebrew Bible. There are innumerable representations of St. George. Type his name in Google and see many ways artists have depicted him. They can be demi-gods or even demonic. The great angels of the apocalyptic writings herald the coming of the end of time. They do much of God’s work.
Thus, St. George, Joan of Arc, and the myriad angels they command saving the British Expeditionary Force are part of the tradition writers and artists follow, making angels part of mankind tales.
It pleased me to have angels serve the story, saviors of the soldiers, instruments of peace after four years of war.
This writer, Arthur Machen, known now to few is, more than anyone else, the “cause” of the legend of the Angel of Mons. There are many in Mons who claim that angels really did intercede in the battle of Mons. However, the facts as I, and the one other expert I know of on the subject, David Clarke (The Angel of Mons), are that the legend had its origin in a story that appeared in the newspaper, the Evening Standard. “The Bowmen”, by Arthur Machen, tells a story that came to be thought of as an account of angels stepping in to save an army from defeat. He does not name a time, a place, or who the combatants were. Word of mouth and other means led it to be thought of as a truthful account of what happened at Mons.
In a later time, Orson Wells and the Mercury Theater’s presentation of the War of the Worlds had a similar effect, though the response by the public and the repudiation of the truth of that event were immediate.
In fact, the legend of the Angel of Mons encouraged the British people, believing as they did, that God and the angels were on their side. More about Machen next week. My apologies to him. Do you know about Arthur Machen? There is a web site called Friends of Arthur Machen. Let us talk about him and his writings.
I realized that the cover I had selected for St. George, the Angel of Mons led in the wrong direction. So, as luck would have it, I found a picture from a book, The Chariot of God, (1915) that depicted one of the central scenes in my novel. I have a license to use the picture from the Mary Evans Picture Library in London. The picture was done by Charles Pearce, a well-known illustrator. Here is the new cover. Please let me know what you think. There is a second picture he did that corresponds to another stage in the battle. Go on-line to see it.