20111223This is the time of year when we are surrounded by images of angels, many looking rather benevolent, friendly musical creatures, or appearing as sweet chubby cherubs.

But in the biblical tradition angels are rather more alarming, and there is a strange and wonderful hierarchy of heavenly creatures to be found, including those with four faces (human, ox, lion and griffin), huge shining beings with flaming swords, and those with no human aspect whatsoever, looking like great wheels covered in eyes.

And as for cherubs - well, Thomas Aquinas believed Lucifer to be a fallen angel of that very rank.

The Revd Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James's, Piccadilly, takes a look at the heavenly host in all its strange and alien glory.

Christmas cards may never be the same again.

The Rev Lucy Winkett explores traditional images of angels.