Lorna Byrne is momentarily dazzled as she walks on stage at London’s Olympia. At first I think it must be by the sheer scale of this vast Victorian hall – even in her smart black heels – the slightly built Byrne isn’t much over 5ft. Or perhaps it’s the sight of the adoring – standing room-only audience that has been packing in for half-an-hour – waiting for her to emerge.
But then this 62-year-old Irish grandmother should have become accustomed to big stages – big crowds – and big welcomes over the past seven years – as she has toured the world – talking about her million-selling books on angels to crowds in cathedrals – mosques – TV studios – even at a UN climate-change summit.
She is a bona-fide publishing phenomenon – her first book – 2008’s Angels in My Hair – has been translated into 30 languages and chased by Hollywood studios – while its author is regarded with such reverence by her devoted readers – that some refer to her as a modern-day mystic.
‘There are so many angels in this place’ – Byrne announces with a giggle – still glued to the spot on the Olympia stage – focal point of a mind body, spirit show that has taken over the exhibition hall. ‘Even up in the balcony…’ – she gasps. ‘There are hundreds and thousands of angels here’.
While we all peer round to check – and see nothing – Byrne’s eyes have started to scan the rows. She can she claims see every individual’s guardian angel as ‘spirals of light’ – hovering three paces behind the one they are protecting – but only rarely do they unfurl their wings for her.
‘Oh yes’ she says – fixing on a particular point – ‘I can see a baby there with its guardian angel – just behind, with lights [wings] opened up – holding a golden sleeve around the baby’.
Again our eyes swivel in a fruitless search – but no one seems disappointed’.