Roma Downey has reflected on the life and faith of her "Touched By an Angel" co-star Della Reese, who passed away at the age of 86.
"On behalf of her husband, Franklin Lett, and all her friends and family, I share with you the news that our beloved Della Reese has passed away peacefully at her California home surrounded by love," Downey wrote in a Facebook post Monday afternoon. "She was an incredible Wife, Mother, Grandmother, friend, and Pastor, as well as an award-winning actress and singer. Through her life and work she touched and inspired the lives of millions of people."
Reese, an ordained minister, leaves behind children James, Franklin, and Dominique, as well as husband Franklin Lett.
The Christian actress continued, "She was a mother to me and I had the privilege of working with her side by side for so many years on Touched By An Angel. I know heaven has a brand new angel this day. Della Reese will be forever in our hearts. Rest In Peace, sweet angel. We love you."
Reese began singing in public at just 6 years old at her local church, and eventually became a globally-recognized gospel singer and actress. According to People Magazine, Reese would "draw on her faith for her most famous acting role," playing the part "supervising angel" Tess on "Touched By an Angel" beginning in 1994.
"Tess' playful sarcasm and no-nonsense attitude added something of a humorous edge to the wholesome show, and she became its most beloved character," the outlet notes.
Towards the end of her life, Reese was plagued with health problems, including a battle with diabetes which she blamed on poor diet and exercise. She retired from acting in 2014.
Throughout the week, Downey reflected on her friendship with Reese in a series of Facebook posts. In one post, she shared a collage of photos of herself with Reese, and another photo along with the caption, "Thank you friends for all your prayers for this great lady ......please keep them coming I know they are such a comfort to Miss Della."
Another photo, a still from "Touched By an Angel," shows Reese and Downey sitting next to each other a bench.
"This picture was taken on a bus stop bench on a freezing cold morning in rural Utah .We had been filming the final episode of Touched By An Angel," Downey reflected "It was bitter sweet [sic] and the air held a hint of sadness ...you see on our very first episode almost ten years before we had shot our first ever scene together on that very same bench ! The full circle . When we finished filming everyone sat for a moment , saddened that it was over but incredibly grateful and happy for what we all had accomplished together."
She continued, "We put faith in the center of a tv show with a message of hope and encouragement and we spoke every week about our loving God . As angels we got to share the message that " God Loves you " to millions of people . What a privilege that was and to do it all with the fabulous Miss Della Reese , that was a JOY ! We loved each other then and we love each other still . Believe me she is an angel . As you know she has been unwell so please keep her in your prayers this week."