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Publisher's Summary

First published in 1981 and long out of print, The Holy Angels has yet to be surpassed as a comprehensive and comprehensible account of the nature of the angels and their role in our salvation. In layperson's terms, Mother Alexandra presents the essence of everything the church has to teach us about the angels, beginning with the Old Testament, continuing through the New Testament, and concluding with the tradition of the church as expressed in her theology, hymnography, and iconography. For those who long to become better acquainted with these holy servants of God and to understand their role in our lives, this book is a great place to start.

©2019 Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration (P)2020 Ancient Faith Publishing

What listeners say about The Holy Angels

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Fantastic book for entry into the noetic world

I was delighted to recently discover The Holy Angels by Mother Alexandra has been republished by Ancient Faith and offered as an audiobook! The author rightly notes that in our modern context, we give insufficient consideration to the angels (that is, to all the bodiless creatures) even though we are often reminded of their presence in creation in the prayers of the Church and in the Holy Scripture. We ask the Lord in every liturgy “for an angel of peace, a faithful guide, a guardian of our souls and bodies,” and in our daily prayers, we ask to be “guided and guarded by” and surrounded with an array of Holy angels. Mondays are for the angels in our weekly cycle of commemoration. And still, we know nothing, or almost nothing, about them!


Mother Alexandra’s book seeks to resolve that. She approaches the subject from a foundation of direct encounter with the angels in her own life, an incident not many of us can claim for our own. Having witnessed the angels directly, Mother Alexandra assiduously takes the reader through the witness of the Church, beginning with the scriptures and ending in the context of Orthodox theology, liturgics, and sacred art. The holy abbess does this with a fluency in the subject at hand that entirely removes any pretension from her approach. There’s nothing “academic” about this work, though it is well researched and well sourced. St Isaac the Syrian says that “words coming from righteous activity is a treasury of hope,” and Mother Alexandra’s active life of service, prayer, and study informs this text so that it is precisely such a treasury. It is accessible to those who are just beginning to deepen their understanding of the teaching and practices of the Church no less than it is accessible to those who are steeped in the writings of the saints. The citations of liturgical and patristic texts offers the reader the opportunity to further explore any particular understanding of the angels and their role in the Church offered herein.


Mother Alexandra reminds us repeatedly that the angels surround us and protect us. Ignoring their role in the story of salvation, from the beginning until this present day (and indeed until the end of the ages!), we not only lose a rich aspect of our “theology” (in the sense of understanding doctrine), we lose our ability to connect to a vital aspect of creation, depriving ourselves of contact with the noetic world—that is, we lose a piece of our “true theology” of prayer. After getting through this book, I became acutely aware of the pervasiveness of the angelic hosts in our scripture, worship, and spiritual writings. While there is no dramatic change in the order my daily life as a result of this, a great deal of consolation has entered my interior life; I pray, fellow reader, that the same will hold true for you after you complete this book.


One quick note: I originally experienced this book as an audiobook. The narrator does a good job conveying the text and shares relevant citations when necessary throughout the text. Because the content is rather deep, I was able to enjoy the audiobook while doing “automatic” tasks (e.g., walking the dog and folding laundry) but I had a harder time focusing on it while doing things that involve concentration and technical skill use (e.g., laying out a website); your mileage may vary on that point, depending on how good you are at multitasking. I was recently given a physical copy of the book, and I will likely use both formats interchangeably in the future, as there’s no doubt that I’ll revisit this book for deepening my own understanding, as a tool for teaching at my parish, and in the catechesis of my children. 

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Wonderful

This book is a wonderful overview of Angels as seen through the history of the church. Beginning with an overview of how angels are portrayed through the Hebrew Scriptures, the author seamlessly moves to the Gospels, the Epistles, and then to the writings of the Church Fathers. She even touches on how angels were used (and misused) in the Gnostic Gospels. She concludes with an overview of how angels have been depicted in art, showing the drift from their strict theological representation in iconography, to the eventual childish Cherub of Renaissance art.

The author is well versed in the traditions of Christianity, being familiar with Catholic and Anglican history and authors, but most of the content is from the Eastern Orthodox perspective. Mother Alexandra is knowledgeable and concise, covering large stretches of history, theological thought, and even the history of art with ease and authority. her writing even has occasional dashes of humor (brought out well by the narrator, Kristina Wenger.)

This is a great book for those unfamiliar with the ancient tradition of angels, and whose only exposure is their portrayal in art and media. It is also worth reading for any Christian, as her overview of Church history and theology is full of insight and warmth. A few of her references are dated, as this book was written during the Cold War. Yet many of the concerns she was addressing then are fully applicable now.

If this topic at all interests you, do yourself a favor and read this book.

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Interesting

I am going to have to reread this book. It was very hard to follow and I kept tuning the book out and missing chunks because the narration was very distracting. I will probably wait to reread when I can get a hard copy. The narrator is amazing at young children’s narrations, but it doesn't seem this genre fits her performance style.

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A Thorough Review of Angels - Both Their History and Roles

“The Holy Angels” is a thoughtful, thorough, well-organized presentation about angels, read with clarity and confidence. Kristina Wenger, whose voice I recognized from her reading of the author’s early life autobiography (“I Live Again”), once again became the voice of the author. I appreciated this continuity as it helped me to appreciate the depth of knowledge, insight, and understanding provided – that the once princess of Romania, who served so many people throughout her life, then chose to serve by sharing a piece of her robust faith.

What’s most memorable to me was the realization of how much I didn’t know (and probably still don’t, because there was a lot of information to glean). I think we make assumptions about angels and their roles in our lives, and/or take them for granted - I have been guilty of paying no attention to them or to the support and accountability that they provide. I think we also neglect to recognize the spiritual side of life – the world unseen that surrounds us. It’s always good to be humbled in recognition that there is so much more to know.

It’s not every day that you listen to a book that makes you want to rewind over and over to hear and fully comprehend all that’s being discussed. This book made me want to purchase the written copy for my own study and quick reference. I appreciated Mother Alexandra’s review of Scripture, as well as the review of extra biblical literature. I appreciate the depth of her presentation of not only scripture, but Apostolic, early church, and church father’s writings as well; there was also discussion of literary and artistic references to angels – again causing a desire to have a written copy of the book so I could use it to reference the pieces of art and the artists that she talked about.

In listening to this book, the only thing lacking is my own ability to remember all that I heard. It is a book I will revisit again, both in the audio and print versions.

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Fantastic

This book is fantastic. It is an advanced study of the Holy Angels. I'm definitely going to listen to it again. So good.

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a wonderful book on angels

I had the incredible pleasure of getting to listen to The Holy Angels by Mother Alexander. While It was a book I very much wanted to read, I did so not knowing what to expect. I am Latin Rite not orthodox, and Angels are looked at a bit differently in the Latin Rite. However, I can only say good things about this book.

First, the narrator was a great choice for this book. She was easy to listen to and really helped to draw you into the book. I did get the audio book and normally I have trouble with audiobooks, my mind tends to get lost in my own thoughts about what i am listening too, Now, it still happened a little but not nearly as much as normal and it was a great experience.

The book itself breaks every section up very clearly and talks about areas in the Bible that discuss angels, but also talks about the church fathers, theology and just a general chapter on what angels are, which I found extremely helpful. I believe my favorite sections were on angels and the book of revelation and the chapter on angels in the holy liturgies and prayers. There was no section I wished I could just skim through or skip all together.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is orthodox or catholic of any rite. You might enjoy reading it with a Bible by your side and it would make a great book to journal while you read. That said whether you just read or it use it as study or reflection material I do not believe you can go wrong with this book. Mother Alexader wrote a wonderful book.


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Exceptional book of enlightened information

Narrated beautifully and expounded on the majestic outpouring nature of Angels whose only purpose is to praise God and intercede for us.

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Flowery language, not much info

My son and I started skipping through the book hoping for some concrete information on angels. Mostly we got summaries of Bible vignettes that we already knew and flowery language on the wonders of salvation. Little hard and fast information on angels. Maybe it got better later but we eventually gave up after repeated disappointments. If you already know abit about the teaching on angels I would not bother with this book. Maybe as a devotional.