- Most people regard them as little more than Christmas
card adornments, but at least 800 Britons claim to have had encounters
with angels, the first academic research into the subject has found.
- Not only Christians have had these experiences; atheists,
agnostics, Muslims and Jews have also claimed similar visitations, according
to Emma Heathcote, a Birmingham University researcher who has studied the
phenomenon for two years. Miss Heathcote, whose findings are the subject
of the Everyman programme on BBC 1 on December 12, said she appealed for
reports of experiences from Britons to include in a doctorate on the subject
and was astonished by the level of interest.
- According to her findings, angels tend to "appear"
either to impart a message or to provide comfort or reassurance. They have
also "intervened" to save people from fatal accidents. Almost
a third of those who contacted Miss Heathcote reported seeing a traditional
angel with a white gown and wings. Another 21 per cent saw angels in human
form. Others felt a force or presence and some detected a distinctive scent
or were engulfed in light.
- One of the most striking reports came from a woman doctor
who was doing her training at Guy's Hospital, London, when a three-year-old
girl was brought in after falling under the wheels of a juggernaut. She
wrote: "When they whipped her clothes off, there wasn't a mark on
her. The girl came round and immediately asked, 'Where is the man in white?'
A male doctor stepped forward and said, 'I'm here', but the girl said,
'No, the man in the shiny white suit who picked me up when the lorry went
- Dena Bryant from Gloucestershire, described how she was
frozen to the spot when two cars collided and one was hurtling towards
her. She claimed to have felt feathers behind her legs and a force lift
her out of danger. David Barber from Worcestershire almost drowned at his
local swimming pool before his late grandmother appeared in angelic form
and carried him to the surface.
- More than half a church congregation said it saw an angel
during a baptism. Miss Heathcote said: "I interviewed the vicar, the
curate, the organist and a large number of the congregation and they all
came up with the same story. They were embarrassed and asked me not to
disclose their names."