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Creatures made of air or fire according to early Christian pseudepigraphica, or of granite or marble, if a stonecutter makes them. Angels mean spirituality. They guard the tomb, guide the soul, pray for the soul in purgatory, and direct the living visitor to think heavenwards. Two angels, saints of the Catholic Church, can be named as we find them: Michael, who bears a sword, and Gabriel, who toots a horn. Angels shown without one or the other of these artifacts belong to the nameless legions of personal guardian angels and other decorations.

Photo: Holy Cross, Colma, California
Copyright 1998 by Joel GAzis-SAx