One of the few things Americans can agree on is our belief in angels.
Nearly 80% of us say we believe in these supernatural beings, and of course the number of Christians who believe is even higher.
Explaining just why this belief is so deeply held is simple: ask almost anyone and they'll tell you they've seen an angel, felt their presence, or know someone who has.
While we all have our own stories, some angel sightings are more incredible than others.
These 11 people shared their surprising encounters with guardian angels. Do they sound familiar?
1. The Voice From Within
Reddit user Lightenergy shared this close encounter with a mysterious force that may have saved his life:
"When I was in my 20s, I spent four years traveling the world. I was in South Africa, just outside Durban, and a friend had taken me on his motorbike to his favorite waterfall.
We had both been swimming but I got cold and went to sit on a patch of green grass. To get there, I had to step from the sand I was on over a log then across a bit to the grass.
I was walking [at] medium speed, and lifted one foot to step over the log, when a VERY loud, booming, masculine voice shouted, "STOP!" Except the shout wasn't heard with my ears, it was inside my head. Hard to explain.
Also, there was nobody else around except Tim and I, and he was still happily swimming.
I stopped, wondering what had just happened. I still had my foot in the air above the log. I looked around, and spotted what I thought was a leaf waving about six inches from my big toe.
It took me a few seconds to realize that it wasn't a leaf, but a snake. A black mamba. He had his head raised and was licking the air right near my toe.
He was waiting to see what my next move was to be, and he had seen me long before I saw him. I slowly backed up and walked very carefully backwards to where Tim was.
I have no explanation for the voice that I heard, except that it was so loud and was inside my head rather than heard with my ears, and it came at a time when I didn't feel in any danger at all - in fact I was very calm and happy.
I feel that it was my guardian angel who shouted at me to stop, as I would have stepped right on the snake. My guardian angel saved my life."
2. A Mother's Angel
Heannalay shares this story from her mother, about a supernatural encounter with a girl that looked just like her:
"When I was little we used to live in an old house that was probably close to 100 years old.
Anyways, I was around three or four-years-old at the time and very sick. My room and my mother's room were right next to each other, and my parents had split up that year so it was just my mom, my sister, and I in the house.
She said that while everyone was asleep, she woke up to a someone standing right in front of her around eye level with her while she was laying in bed (so around 2 1/2 feet I suppose).
She said it looked like me, exactly like me, and I was glowing white, but transparent and still. The someone had long brown hair (which is what I had) and was wearing a white nightgown.
The night that she saw this, I had been very very sick and I wasn't turning around. After she blinked a few times the someone dissolved and she got up to check on me. I had a fever with shivers and was coughing and almost choking on my own mucus (Ew)!
She took me to the hospital right then and the doctor said that if she hadn't, I probably would've died from choking in my sleep or from how close I was to catching pneumonia.
My mom loves telling this story and truly believes it was my guardian angel telling her it wasn't my time yet and that I needed her help."
3. A Mysterious Visitor
Florida's WFLA news reports that a 10-year-old boy, Thelonious Ziegelschmid-Sylvester, says he encountered an angel during a hospital visit that almost took his life.
The young boy suffered from an extremely rare condition called Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. It caused a painful, "one in a million" reaction to common antibiotics that afflicted the skin all over his body.
Thelonious spent four months in hospital for treatment, and at times it seemed like he was slipping away.
"It just kept getting worse and worse," his father Tony remembered, "literally right before our eyes you could see the blisters spreading."
At the most painful moment of his treatment, Thelonious says he felt himself drifting out of his body, and saw a strange visitor in his hospital room.
"I saw this man standing in the corner of the room in a white robe with a beard. White skin, brown beard, brown hair.
He smiled at me and it was like I was back in my body. I thought it was really strange but after that, it was just... kept getting better and better after that point."
His reaction left him legally blind, and permanently scarred, but Thelonious eventually recovered.
He believes his visitor, who he calls an angel, had something to do with that.
4. Visit To Heaven
Dr. Gary Wood, a minister from Texas, says he had a close encounter with the great beyond after a harrowing accident in his teenage years.
Wood was just 17 years old when the vehicle he was driving struck an illegally parked truck. The damage to his face was so severe, doctors didn't expect him to survive.
But Wood only remembers feeling "relieved of all the pain" as he began what he describes as a visit to heaven.
"I stepped out of this body, this Earth suit, and then was lifted up through the top of my car and my whole life just passed before my eyes in just an instant. Then I was caught in a swirling massive funnel shaped cloud that grew brighter."
Wood remembers seeing the pearly gates stretching out for more than 500 miles before him, as he was greeted by a 70 foot-tall angel.
"He had a sword, he had beautiful gold, spun hair. And there was an angel inside of the city that was holding some books."
Wood says he was given a tour of heaven, which he remembers as "a golden satellite," where he was greeted by his deceased childhood friend.
He also saw a room full of "spare parts, arms and legs."
"People asked my ‘why do you need a place like that?’" he remembered. "Because God has a spare part when God has a miracle."
Against all odds Wood survived, and he says God, or his angel, had a hand in his recovery.
"I was sent back to tell people that Heaven is real, there is a song to sing, there is a mission or journey to take, there is a book to write. You’re unique in purpose on this Earth."
5. A Small Miracle
While her story isn't very dramatic, Quora user Teem Beaut Much had a very moving encounter with a man she believes was an angel.
"I believe I communicated with an angel, it was 1980, I had taken trash to a dumpster beside GA 17 highway.
There was a man standing among five dumpsters, he had white hair that was neatly combed and casual clothes with brown shoes.
The place where these dumpsters were placed by the county of Jenkins were away from nearly everyone, there weren’t any type of vehicle that he could have arrived at the dumpsters in and he didn’t act as though he was interested in going anywhere.
We talked for quite awhile until one of my co-workers came down to the dumpsters to check on me. I told the gentleman who looked to be in his sixties that I had to go, he said to me “I’ll like to give you something if you’ll accept them,”
I said, 'Sure.' he reached into his right coat pocket and gave me two books, 4x4 of Acts of the Apostles and Luke, that was last I saw of him."
6. Somebody Up There Likes Me
Royal Air Force navigator Tom Rounds shared this extraordinary story about a mysterious voice that saved him and three other crew members.
It happened when they were flying a low-altitude exercise in the 1980s, during terrible weater conditions.
Their plane was speeding over the ground at less than 300 feet, with almost no visibility.
"At some point I felt an overwhelming urge to climb the aircraft away from our then height of 250 feet," Rounds remembers.
"The hairs on my neck stood up, it was almost as though something was screaming in my head to take action immediately.
I duly screamed at the pilot to initiate a hard climb and rapid left turn."
As soon as they did, the plane's controls began flashing a low-altitude alarm. The crew had narrowly missed a mountain by less than 50 feet thanks to Rounds and his premonition.
"I absolutely believed the plane was about to crash straight into the mountainside,” Rounds said.
“Was that my guardian angel who spoke to me urging I take immediate action? I don't suppose I shall really know for certain but during a quiet moment, I like to believe it was."
7. The Spirit Guardian
Reddit user ArielFlip remembers this encounter, with a mysterious man he calls his "Spirit Guardian."
"I was traveling west on a divided four-lane highway. There were openings for turns about every quarter mile. It was 6:30 A.M. and raining just enough to [tick your off] (misting and spitting).
A woman t-bones me on the back driver's side fender. I spin and come to rest in the median (all grass and mud from rain). Out of nowhere, a guy shows up to my driver side window.
He has a large cowboy hat on. He says, 'You are going to be okay,' and he holds my hand. I asked him his name and he looks away like he doesn't want to tell me. Then he says 'Bill Hill.' I smiled and said thank you.
Another motorist who stopped calls 911 and [an] ambulance is dispatched. When they arrive, he moves out of the way for the EMT's to get me out of the car (car is totaled/no glass left).
[I get] checked out and I get to go home with broken ribs and a shattered knee cap.
A few days later my mom takes me to see the car. What a wreck! I told her to help get some personal items from the car. When I looked in the backseat, there is the dude's cowboy hat!
I told my mom about him and we both proceeded to try and find him to thank him for being so kind. He never existed and we lived in a small town of only a few thousand at the time. We checked with police and the churches and everywhere!
How did his hat get in my backseat? He wore it the whole time he held my hand and had the hat on when he got out of the way for the EMTs! I think he was an angel!"
8. Blessing From A Priest
See what you make of this strange story from Reddit user sleeplesssurvivor, about his father's bizarre encounter with a priest at a hospital:
"When I was young, about three or so, I was hospitalized and near death. I had a fever that just would not break and was passed out for most of the hospitalization.
My dad, who has always been religious, wanted the hospital's priest to come say a prayer for me. So, the priest comes to pray for me, but something's not right about the guy.
He never gives his name and has no Bible. He says the entire prayer in Latin and blesses me. Now, my parents aren't married yet and since the priest is there, they ask why they haven't been able to have another child yet.
They had been trying for about a year with no luck. The priest tells them that they won't have another child until they're married. The priest leaves after that and an hour later my fever breaks.
The next day the hospital's priest comes to the room to say a prayer for me. My dad is confused and tells the man that someone had already come the day before, to which the man replies that no priests were on duty the day before.
He checked with all of the hospital staff and their visitation book and everything, nothing turned up. No priest was in the previous day. He searched for years to find this priest that prayed for me and he never found a single trace of him anywhere.
A month after my mom and dad got married, my mom got pregnant with my brother. So, we'll never know who the mysterious man was but, I like to think he's my guardian angel.
To this day my dad still has found no record of him, not even someone who looks like him. Someone was looking out for me that day though. I just wish I knew who."
9. The Tree
Don Houston was declared clinically dead after suffering a heart attack just outside an Oklahoma City hospital.
While paramedics rushed to revive him, Houston remembers waking up in a large white room with a with arched windows.
He says angels were walking just outside the windows, and smiling at him. Then, a small tree sprouted inside the room and told him he had suffered from a heart attack.
"I honestly believe they were angels, and they were with me to make sure I was not alone and that I was OK," Houston said.
"And I feel like the tree was God, not showing himself in his true form because it wasn’t my time, just letting me know everything is OK. It was so peaceful."
Doctors expected the worst, but Houston pulled through, and says he was walking out the doorway of the mysterious room just as he woke up.
While he was afraid to share what he saw at first, now Houston believes it was a true message from God.
10. Mother Alexandra's Angels
Mother Alexandra was the mother superior of a monastery in Pennsylvania, but she was born Princess Ileana of Romania.
After the country's royal family was exiled, Ileana followed a higher calling and took her vows as a nun.
But as this story from her childhood shows, she always had a special connection to the supernatural:
"Our night nursery was lit by the dawn and I saw a group of angels standing, as if chatting, around my brother's bed," she remembered.
"I was aware of this, although I could not hear their voices.
They wore long flowing gowns of various soft-shaded colors. Their hair came to their shoulders, and different in color from fair and reddish to dark brown. They had no wings.
At the foot of my brother Mircea's bed stood one heavenly being, a little aside from the others - taller he was, and extraordinarily beautiful, with great white wings. In his right hand he carried a lighted [candle]; he did not seem to belong to the group of angels gathered around the bed.
He clearly stood apart and on watch. I knew him to be the guardian angel. I then became aware that at the foot of my own bed stood a similar celestial creature.
He was tall, his robe was dark blue with wide, loose sleeves. His hair was auburn, his face oval, and his beauty such as I cannot describe because it was comparable to nothing human. His wings swept high and out behind him.
One hand was lifted to his breast, while in the other he carried a lighted [candle]. His smile can only be described as angelic; love, kindness, understanding, and assurance flowed from him.
Delighted, I crawled from under the bedcovers and, kneeling up against the end of the bed, I stretched out my hand with the ardent wish to touch my smiling guardian, but he took a step back, put out a warning hand, and gently shook his head.
I was so close to him I could have reached him easily. "Oh, please don't go," I cried; at which words all the other angels looked toward me, and it seemed I heard a silvery laugh, but of this sound I am not so certain, though I know they laughed. Then they vanished."
11. A Legion Of Angels
Former FBI Agent Lillie Leonardi offers this incredible account from the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 on 9/11 in her memoirs, The Shadow of a Badge: A Spiritual Memoir.
Leonardi arrived at the site just three hours after the plane crashed, and was stunned by the destruction.
"I’m used to crime scenes but this one blew me out of the water," she said. "It just looked like the ground had swallowed up [the plane]."
But Leonardi saw something beautiful at the crash site: what she calls a "legion" of angels looking over the wreckage.
"On this day, the shimmer of light began to grow and was almost blinding," she wrote.
"I looked again and the light began to evolve into a foggy white mist. The white mist then began to take shape. It moved and swirled in patterns of spectacular white light.
All at once, the mist took full shape and I saw what appeared to be angels. There were angels standing in the open area to the left of the crash site. There were hundreds of them standing in columns.
There was a field of angels emerging from the realms of the mist. They were Archangels with their wings arched up toward the sky."
Leonardi kept her sighting secret for years, because "they'd have called the office and said, 'she lost her mind and tell her to go home.'"
But after sharing her description with her former supervisor, Kenneth McCabe, he believes her.
"I believe her. I read the whole book. I know she believes 100 percent that’s what she saw," he said. "I know she’s a sane person so I’m not going to discount what she says she saw."