The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is a fascinating sacred space packed with symbolic art work that inspire worship and prayer. The tapestries are of course world-renowned. However, a very subtle but striking showcase are the candelabras that are buttressed on the walls of the nave. Taking a closer look, I felt hooked into deciphering the type of personalities these angels represent.
Max DeMoss drew his inspiration from actual interviews with people who identified angels in their lives in the form of their friend, neighbor, and family.
It is impossible not to feel welcomed by this angel with his/her head tilted along with his/her body; right arm extending and left arm about to reach out with an open palm. The angel is snub-nosed, has eyes that are almond-shaped, and has high cheek bones connoting Asian features. The delight and warmth in the angel’s smile seem to break a long wait for a friend’s arrival. Notice the folds of the angel’s robe while lifting his/her knees to communicate excitement. Were the angel able to leave what seems to be his/her wings in the candelabra just to come forward and welcome, it would.
I had to second guess what emotion this angel is trying to convey. The angel’s bronze clothing provides an effective material to communicate precise body motion. Probably male, this angel seems to stand still, with his jaw dropping as if shocked to find someone unexpectedly in an unusual circumstance. Yet, one hand is out-stretched, the other holding his halo/crown of light. Concern and surprise seem to capture what this angel depicts but certainly he is planning his next step on how to approach the viewer. This angel, like the previous one is outward-bound, ready to approach the viewer’s vantage.
With outstretched arms, this angel’s body is not just floating but ascending. This angel seem to express a desire of taking the viewer unto a place where his/her gaze is fixed. A serene, calm, and joyful face with Latino-African-American features, this angel evokes an unmitigated satisfaction of someone who understands his/her mission and is ready to take anyone up with him/her.
There are nine more candelabras in the nave. To have these candelabras buttressed at the same place where the people of God are gathered and seated in order to worship is a significant message on the role of angels. Max DeMoss, conceptualized these angels through the lens of how people understood the role of other human beings in their lives as angelic. So yes, these angels are speaking to anyone in human terms. Terms that are easy to understand, such as welcome, concern, open, joyful, calm, shocked, excitement — all real aspects of ourselves that help us to be less false and truer to who we are. I am convinced that the role of angels is exactly to help us realize our true selves in whatever journey we are in. Surrounded by these angels in the nave of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the people of God are being supported and challenged to be who they really are before God in the Sacraments. This is the light which angels share with everyone.