Monday, October 02, 2006

The Angels of Mons

Today's Feast of the Guardian Angels was marked with a neat touch of serendipity when we came across two angelic stories in our history reading. Angel (oops! a rather confusing pseudonym for this post!) is learning about World War I, and we read a story in Usborne True Stories: World War I that was new to me - the legend of the Angels of Mons. Briefly, the story goes as follows. During the early stages of the war the British Expeditionary Force was being heavily pressed by the German Army at the Belgian town of Mons, when one of the soldiers appealed to St.George. An army of angelic bowmen appeared and fired against the Germans, leading the British forces to victory. The tale spread rapidly, boosting British morale by proving that God was, indisputably, on the side of the allies. For many years after the war the story was believed to be true. Sadly (I love a good miracle!) there are no contemporary eyewitness accounts of any supernatural occurances at Mons, and it seems there is no basis for believing the tale is anything more than legend. The most likely explanation seems to be that a fictional story was published in a British newspaper. It spread through reprints and word of mouth, and grew in the telling. Within a short space of time the fictional "Bowmen" of the story had mutated and the Angels of Mons were widely accepted as fact. You can find more detail here.

To add an extra layer of coincidence, angels also appeared in Star's history reading. She read about St Augustine of Canterbury and the blond-haired slave boys in a Roman market who were "not Angles, but angels". I must confess this part of the story sounds suspiciously more like poetic license than a genuine quick-witted play on words by Pope Gregory, so should probably be put into the same legendary category as the Angels of Mons. St Augustine, of course, was most definitely not legendary!

No comments: