Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Saturday 31 July |
Saint of the Day: St. Ignatius Loyola
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

Do we become angels when we die?


Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 11/17/18 - updated on 04/06/21

The truth behind a popular belief.

In popular culture, it is common to refer to people who have died as “angels” in Heaven. For many, this simply means that they think of the deceased person as being with God, where the other angels live.

However, sometimes this comforting thought becomes more concrete, with some believing that humans really do become angels when they die.

Is this true? Can a human person die and then come back to life as an angel?

Read more:
A visual guide to Guardian Angels: Here’s what you need to know

The short answer is no. There is no possibility of a human becoming an angel.

When we die, our soul is separated from our body for the moment, but will be reunited with it at the end of time. To become an angel after death would mean that we become a different being entirely.

Catholics believe that angels are unique, unrepeatable spirits.

Angels created before humans

They were created prior to humans; one theory that is an accepted Catholic belief is that on the first day of creation, when God made “light,” the “light” he made was the angels (Gen. 1:3). This theory may even be confirmed when it says God “divided the light from the darkness,” if that refers to the rebellion of the angels led by Lucifer (Gen. 1:4).

This idea is brought forth by St. Augustine in “City of God:”

For when God said, “Let there be light, and there was light,” if we are justified in understanding in this light the creation of the angels, then certainly they were created partakers of the eternal light which is the unchangeable Wisdom of God, by which all things were made, and whom we call the only-begotten Son of God; so that they, being illumined by the Light that created them, might themselves become light and be called “Day,” in participation of that unchangeable Light and Day which is the Word of God, by whom both themselves and all else were made.

This makes sense as the “Sun” and “Moon” were not created until the fourth day.

With or without this interpretation of Scripture, what is certain is that Catholics believe that all the angels who were to exist were created before any humans were made and they are different beings than humans.

So when a human dies, he doesn’t become an angel; his soul doesn’t either. It continues being a human soul, which will be reunited with its body at the resurrection of the dead.


Read more:
Do I believe in the resurrection of the dead?


Read more:
In images: 5 Amazing facts about Archangels


Read more:
The many names of Satan and what they mean

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Gold-winning Filipina Olympian shares her Miraculous Medal for th...
Cerith Gardiner
Simone Biles leaves the Olympics with an important lesson for her...
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
J-P Mauro
Reconstructing a 12th-century pipe organ discovered in the Holy L...
Mathilde De Robien
Did you know Princess Di was buried with a rosary?
Zelda Caldwell
German women’s gymnastics teams modest dress protests sport’s ...
Lauren Daigle
J-P Mauro
After 3 years Lauren Daigle ousts herself from #1 Billboard spot
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.