Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Angel

The AngelThe Angel

Whenever a good child dies, an angel of God comes down from heaven, takes the dead child in his arms, spreads out his great white wings, and flies with him over all the places which the child had loved during his life. Then he gathers a large handful of flowers, which he carries up to the Almighty, that they may bloom more brightly in heaven than they do on earth. And the Almighty presses the flowers to His heart, but He kisses the flower that pleases Him best, and it receives a voice and is able to join the song of the chorus of bliss.”

An angel came to get a child one day. The angel flew the child over the places he had loved in life. The angel then told the child to pick flowers to take to heaven’s garden. The child chose several flowers but chose one in particular because someone had broken its stem and it was now withering. The angel flew the child down a narrow street. In the alley, there was a heap of rubbish, mainly trash, but among it was also a broken flower pot that had held a clump of dirt with a withered flower in it. The angel picked up the withered flower and told the child they would take it to heaven as well.

The angel began to tell the child why he picked the poor sickly flower to take to heaven. Down that very street, in a cellar, had lived a sick boy. The sick boy had not been allowed to go out. People brought him pieces of the outside. One person brought him the bough of a beech tree, which he hung above his bed in order to pretend that he was in a forest. Another person brought him a clump of wildflowers. One wildflower still had its roots attached. The boy planted it in a flower pot. It bloomed for him year after year. While he could not go outside, the flowers in the pot became his garden. He finally died and even in death he looked down upon his flower.

The boy asked the angel how he had known all of this and the angel told him that he had been that boy. The flower had been cast out when the lodgers were kicked out of the lodgings. The angel and the boy took the flower up to heaven where it did bloom and it joined in the songs of heaven.

The End


This story is quite sad. No one likes to think of children dying, but children do die. It’s especially sad because it seems as if they haven’t gotten to experience life. There were childhood illnesses that we couldn’t treat we’re talking both of illnesses like the chicken pox, but also diseases like cancer. No one knew what to do about these diseases back in the day. Children died. A child with cancer, or tuberculosis, or polio, as this story suggests by the angel saying he used to use crutches, most likely would have been kept inside, entirely. There would have been no forays outside. When people said bed rest, they meant bed rest. You stayed in the bed.

This boy the angel had been would have had a very sad and boring life.

I want to bring something else up here. We get no indication reading the story that the angel is child-aged. The angel carries the boy around. We get the sense that this angel is an adult, but yet, the angel used to be a little boy. His flower pot is still at his old house, so it can’t have been that long since he died. How did the little boy the angel had been become this grown-up angel? This all really depends on what you believe as far as angels go. Some people believe in child-angels. Some people believe angels have wings. Some people believe angels don’t have wings. Some people believe that if you die, even if you are a child, you will be an adult in heaven.

Hans must have believed that children became adults in heaven.


Flowers are pretty great, but they’re just flowers. If you think about all the science involved in what a flower does, and why it does it, flowers because a bit more impressive, but they’re still just flowers. They bloom; they die. We see them everywhere. We don’t place much importance on flowers.

To these children, these poor little kids, flowers were important. To the first boy, taking a flower into heaven was a way to save it from wilting on the Earth. To the angel, a flower was his world. He didn’t know what the outside world was like. He got the chance to take his flower into heaven as well.

Both boys took flowers that had seen better days to heaven. Each of the flowers was dying, but each boy scooped up their respective flowers and extended their lives eternally.

When my father died, I was sent a copy of the poem that was read at his funeral. It was about God’s garden. God looked around and saw empty spaces in his garden and found people to fill it. Like the poem, these children and flowers were plucked from their Earthly lives, seemingly premature, to go and live in heaven.

We don’t know why plants, animals, and people sometimes don’t live the full life we think they should live. Things happen and we don’t have reasons for them. Knowing that they will have a place in heaven, helps us heal our hearts. We feel a little better knowing that Bobby, or Billy, or that silly flower, will have a place in God’s sight and will live on in another world.


Poor kids and poor flowers.

Weigh In

Do you think stories about heaven and angels help people cope with untimely deaths?

Do you think there is a heaven for plants?


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