Secondary Assembly: ‘Not Angles, but Angels’


The phrase “Not Angles, but angels” is a classic saying that has its origins in the Christian church. In this article, we will explore the historical background of this phrase, its significance in today’s world, and how it can be applied to secondary assembly.

Historical Background

In the year 597 AD, Pope Gregory the Great noticed some fair-haired Anglo-Saxon slaves at a Roman slave market. Struck by their angelic appearance, he asked about their origin. When told that they were Angles from England, he famously replied with a play on words: “Not Angles, but angels.” This remark led to Pope Gregory sending a missionary team, including St. Augustine of Canterbury, to convert the people of Britain to Christianity.

Significance in Today’s World

The phrase “Not Angles, but angels” serves as a powerful reminder that every individual has innate goodness and potential for greatness. By focusing on these positive qualities rather than our differences, we can create an inclusive and supportive atmosphere where everyone feels valued and respected.

In modern society, it is essential to promote unity and cooperation among people from various backgrounds. By emphasizing this message during secondary assemblies, we instill in students essential values such as empathy, acceptance, and the importance of seeing beyond someone’s cultural or religious background.

Application to Secondary Assembly

When incorporating the theme of “Not Angles, but angels” into secondary assembly activities and discussions, consider following these steps:

1) Introduce the Historical Background:

Begin by sharing the story behind Pope Gregory’s iconic statement and its impact on British history. This will provide context for the importance of treating one another with kindness and respect.

2) Discuss its Contemporary Significance:

Highlight how this phrase resonates in modern society as a call for unity and acceptance of diversity. Encourage discussions on what it means to look beyond superficial differences and appreciate the inherent goodness in every person.

3) Reflective Activities:

Organize interactive group exercises that encourage students to share their thoughts and feelings about their experiences of inclusion and diversity. For example, create a human Bingo that showcases various positive qualities in each student, or engage in storytelling or role-playing exercises that tackle challenging topics such as discrimination and prejudice.

4) Encourage Action:

Inspire students to put these ideas into practice. Challenging them to become ambassadors for unity and acceptance within their school and community will provide real-life application of the theme while raising awareness of its importance.


Emphasizing the message of “Not Angles, but angels” in secondary assembly is an opportunity to inspire young people to embrace diversity and cultivate a culture of respect, empathy, and understanding. By sharing the story behind Pope Gregory’s iconic statement and exploring its implications in today’s world, we can empower students to create a future where all individuals are valued for their inherent goodness rather than judged by their differences.

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