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The forgotten symbol of Jesus

Hex Sign
Pennsylvania Dutch Christian Iconography

Known as a Hex Sign in Pennsylvania, this design was adopted by the earliest Christians as a
monogram of Christ. This design may have been the first symbol to represent Jesus. Was it is a
legacy of Mary, but forgotten in history. The design's origin may predate the Israelites. Why did
early Christians adopt the symbol?

Ossuaries from Israel Antiquities Authority, predates 69A.D.

This is design is believed to be a Jewish religious and funerary symbol passed on
from Mary to Jesus

This design is called a hex sign in Pennsylvania. But, the true story of this design is that it has
symbolized Christ, the resurrection and afterlife, from the early days of Christendom. There are
neither hidden messages nor secrets associated with this symbol. Photographs in this website
document the symbol's saga.

The symbol's origin is most likely 1,700 B.C. Israelite, but may pre-date them. It may have been
associated with the tribe to which Mary, Joseph and Jesus belonged. It is created by
circles. This design can be described by one phrase, E Pluribus Unum.
Photograph below, Danish church dated 1460A.D.

The gravestone slab of Bishop Boethius of Carpentras from the year 604A.D. provides an
interesting glimpse into Christian Iconography of his time.
Note this design is present as well as the Chi Rho and Coptic Cross.

Bishop Boethius of Carpentras 604A.D.

The Bible, Revelation 22:16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in
the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright and Morning Star. Is this
design called the Morning Star?
The design came to America with the immigration of Christians from Low Countries of
Europe. It has symbolized their religious culture from the early years of Christianity in Europe.
In America during the 1900's modern folk artists called the design different names such as Hex
Sign, and Flower of Life. But, these names are based upon new age mysticism, and failed to
recognize the designs historical Christian cultural identity. As you will see in photographs, the
motif is sometimes carved on gravestones alongside beautiful flowers. Therefore, out of respect
to the artisans who created the design, it is not a flower.
To find the origin of the symbol, we must travel back in history to ancient Egypt during the
Middle Kingdom, to Jerusalem during the time of Christ, and to the Roman Empire during the
days of Constantine.

Photograph on the left, Temple of Osiris, Egypt dated 2300B.C. Photograph on the right, Danish
church dated 1460A.D.

Who first created this design? We do not know.

The Egyptian god Osiris was associated with ressurection into the afterlife. If the design was
created by ancient Egyptians, then the symbol dates to at least the year 2300B.C. It could have
been adopted by The Roman Empire as they adopted the worship of Osiris. Did the Romans
borrow the design of the Morning Star from ancient Egyptians as the Roman symbol of
resurrection for Christianity? Did Coptic or Egyptian Christians, among the earliest of all
Christians, borrow symbol of resurrection from the Temple of Osiris to symbolize Christ's
resurrection? We know this design has been used by Coptic Christians since the early days of
Visit: Princeton University Index of Christian Art
We can say with certainty that in 70A.D. the motif was carved into the Ossuary, or small
secondary casket pictured below. The area where it was made is now known as Israel and Jordan.
The burial practice was to allow the flesh to decompose, either in the ground or upon an alter,
then place the bones into an Ossuary. Caves housed the Ossuaries of communities and families.
Ossuary from Jifna, Jordan 70A.D. - Courtesy of and permission from the University of Chicago,
Dr. Harold H. Willoughby.

Coptic (Egyptian) Christians

Coptic or Egyptian Christians are among the earliest of all Christians. The Coptic Christian
Church was established by Saint Mark, the Evangelist, in the year 56A.D. His martyrdom also
took place in Egypt in 68A.D. The first church was built in Alexandria, Egypt in approximately
100A.D. The Coptic Christians used the symbol extensively.

Exterior wall of Coptic Church - Courtesy of and permission from the New York
Metropolitian Museum
Coptic Christians
Fragment from a Lintel or Frieze with a cross and the symbol 500A.D. - Courtesy of and
permission from the New York Metropolitian Museum

The Roman Legion and Barbarian Hordes

In the year 400A.D., Barbarian hordes of Germanic tribes including the Almanni, Franks, Gauls,
Vandals, Visigoths and Lombards fought for control of the northern Roman Empire. The sword
scabbard belt buckle, shown below, was created in the year 400A.D., and found in the year 1885

inside the tomb of a Barbarian warrior. The Romans referred to the people living beyond their
borders as Barbarians, but often employed Barbarians as mercenary soldiers to safeguard Empire
borders. The Barbarian warrior stationed in the Roman province of Gaul, now known as
Vermand, France, was a high ranking military leader fighting as a member of the Roman
Legion. The buckle in the photograph below should be viewed at a 45 degree angle, as it was
connected to a belt supporting a sword scabbard, draped over the shoulder.
France is an essential location in the study of the Morning Star. In the year 180A.D. Saint
Irenaeus, then Bishop of what is now Lyon, France published "Against Heresies", a volume
intended to help unify the early Christian church. St. Irenaeus in France demonstrates how the
late Roman Empire spread Christianity throughout the Kingdom, for St. Irenaeus was from
Smyrna, now called Izmir, Turkey. In Medieval times Vermand, France was the land of Hugh of
Vermandois, a Crusader Knight. In fact, the Knights of the Morning Star were a Chivalric Order
and subgroup to the Knights Templar. This is discussed in the Crusade section.
Sword Scabbard Belt Buckle made in 400A.D., Vermand Treasure - Courtesy of and permission
from the New York Metro Museum

The Franks 4th to 7th century A.D.

The Frank Kingdom was a confederation of ancient Germanic Barbarian tribes in northern
Europe. The Franks were ruthless warriors and became allies with the Romans to defeat the
Huns and protect Europe from Attila's wrath.

In the year 506A.D., Clovis became King of the Franks by uniting the tribes in Gaul. By uniting
the Franks and converting to Christianity, Clovis set the stage for feudalism and saved Europe
from the emptiness of Pagan idolatry and fractious infighting.
Clovis was the founder of the Merovingian Dynasty of Frankish Kings.
The symbol was displayed by the Clovis and throughout the Merovingian Kingdom as a sign of
Christ, the resurrection, and the afterlife.
The Frankish Empire included legendary Knights like Charlemagne. Born April 2nd, 742A.D.,
Charlemagne was blessed with a brilliant intellect, mental stamina, and exceptional physical
strength. He united most of Europe during his reign as King. The brutal campaigns he fought
were the Lombard war, Aquitaine war, Saxon war, Spanish war, Slavic war, Huns war and
Danish war.
Charlemagne was crowned the Emperor of the Holy Roman Church and Europe in the Cathedral
of St. Peter in Rome on Christmas night 800A.D. In the name of Charlemagne, ferocious
Frankish Knights took up the sword against Pagan devils and laid waste to all who opposed the
King, assuring the name of Charlemagne would echo in eternity.
Throughout Europe, Charlemagne's conquering warriors built Abbeys and carved the symbol
above doorways as a reminder of the Christian Knights of Charlemagne. The symbol can still be
seen on Churches and Chrisitian objects in the territory conquered by Charlemagne. His
Kingdom was the basis for Medieval Europe between the years 700A.D. to 1200A.D.
The photograph below is the Casket of Mumma. Gilt copper repousse on wood reliquary. It was
created in the middle part of the 7th century A.D., and is from the St. Beniot sur Loire Abbey
Church. It shows the Twelve Apostles and below them the symbol denoting ascension.
Casket Bronze - Courtesy of and permission from the University of Alabama Birmingham

Visit: Art History on the web

The Lombards 6th century to 774A.D.
The Lombard Kingdom was Christian and located in southern France and northern Italy.
Lombard meant long beard, Longobardo. The Franks had conquered the Lombard Empire by
590A.D. A period of stability in the Lombard Monarchy was attained through marriages
between Lombard Monarchy and Frankish Nobility. The Lombards retained their Monarchy
under the Franks.
Below is a stone carving. It was made in Europe during the 8th century.
The photograph below is a Lombard marble altar closure slab of Magister Ursus, in honor of
Duke Ilderic of Spoleto, 8th century, from Ferentillo, S. Pietro in Valle. Observe the Morning
Star symbol placed in several locations on the marble altar.
Marble Altar - Courtesy of and permission from the University of Alabama Birmingham

The symbol was handed down, from generation to generation, as an icon of Christianity and
cultural. It was the symbol of ascension and resurection of life, a sign of life eternal.
Cathedral of Pisa Italy, built between 1060A.D. and 1118A.D. (below)

The Crusades and the forgotten symbol of Jesus

Deus Vult! The photographs above document the symbol on the Cathedral of Pisa, Italy, created
between the years 1060A.D. to 1118A.D., during the Crusades. The symbol honors the
Crusaders who departed for war and never returned. It beckons the spirits of lost Crusaders
providing a guiding light home. Nobiscum Deus.
The symbol is seen again, seventy miles east of Pisa, inside the mountain fortress of Volterra,
Italy. The citadel of Volterra was first built by the Etruscan's and then controlled by the Roman
Empire in the year 300B.C.
During the time of the Crusades, in 1110A.D., at the behest of the Norman Crusaders, the Holy

Roman Church began construction on a Cathedral and Basilica within the citadel of
Volterra. The Basilica is adorned with the same symbol as the Cathedral in Pisa.
Cathedral of San Paolo Al'Orto in Pisa Italy, completed in 1086 A.D. (below)

The photograph below is of the same cathedral as above. This photograph was taken in the year
1910 by auto tire manufacturer Mr. Goodyear and is in the Brooklyn Museum.

The Crusades began in the year 1095A.D.; an assembly of churchmen called by Pope Urban II
met at Clermont, France. On November 27, 1095A.D. the Pope addressed the assembly and
asked the warriors of Europe to liberate the Holy Land from the Muslims. The word "crusade"
literally means "going to the Cross." Deus vult or "God wills it" were the words spoken by Pope
Urban II.
In the year 1096A.D., an army of Crusaders, the chivalry of Medieval Europe, set out for the
Holy Land under Godfried van Bouillon, Hugh of Vermandois, and Stephen of Blois. Guther
der Benner was a Knight of the Morning Star under Godfried.
The Photograph below is a gravestone from St. Magnus Cathedral in Scotland. The Normans
built the Cathedral and this Knight was buried in the Cathedral. In Scotland, this motif is unlike
any other design of the Scotish culture before 1000A.D. But in Scotland, we know the design is
associated with the Danes and Normans who conquered the region in 1042A.D. Is this Knight a
member of the "Knights of the Morning Star"?

St. Magnus Cathedral, founded by Earl Rognvald in 1137A.D. and dedicated to his kinsman St.
Magnus who had been executed at Egilsay in 1116A.D. Although it is the most considerable
monument erected in the Norse occupation.nbsp; The material used is the local flagstone used as
rubble, with dressings of freestone from the Head of Holland, less than 3 miles away.
Other examples of this design being used as Christian iconography in Scotland are from the
years 1707 and 1712. The photographs are shown later on this page.
The Crusades lasted from 1096A.D. to 1270A.D. and were comprised of the Teutonic Knights,
Knights of the Morning Star, Knights Templar, Knights of St. John (Hospitaliers). During this
time many of the Cathedral fortresses where built throughout Europe. The Cathedral of Pisa and
Volterra are marked with this symbol. Use of the symbol during the Crusades and corresponding
construction of cathedrals shows a direct relationship between the warring Knights and their
God. The Normans ruled the whole of Europe at the time of the Crusades, and they were the
guiding force behind cathedral building in Europe.
Cathedral of Pisa Italy, built between 1060A.D. and 1118A.D.

The Low Country of Europe

Danish Church wall paintings from 1400A.D., (below). The design is identical to the motif on
the Cathedral of Pisa built 300 years earlier.
Courtesy of and permission from James Mills, Mills-Kronborg Collection of Danish Church Wall

Visit: Princeton University, Index of Christian Art

The Morning Star

In the year 1380, John Wyclif, wrote a book called, "About the Eucharist." The book
questioned the dogma practiced by the Holy Roman Church at the time. John Wyclif became
known as the "Morning Star" of reformation. The symbol was used by the Dutch and German
Reformed Church to distinguish their religious sect. Was this symbol called the Morning
Star? Wyclif was a forerunner to later reform leaders like Martin Luther, John Calvin and
Huldrych Zwingli.
Morning Star of Reformation
Kilmartin Church in the Argyll province of Scotland has beautiful examples of the symbol used,
as it was during the Crusades, as iconography of one's culture. The photograph below
demonstrates carved into the gravestone slab is an identical geometric design to the Crusader,
Knight of the Morning Star, gravestone slab pictured above. Additionally, it is identical to the
gravestone designs in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Courtesy of and permission from
Gravestone slabs from 1707 and 1712 in Kilmartin Church, Scotland

Pennsylvania and the symbol

Gravestone of Abraham Sell, my ancestor, from Christ Church in Littlestown Pennsylvania,
dated 1786 (left)
Gravestone from Saint Mark's Church in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, dated 1842 (right)

Who are the "Pennsylvania Dutch"?

Pennsylvania Dutch history begins with the migration of Dutch and German Reformed Church
people to the Dutch Colonial trading post of New Amsterdam in the American Colonies. The
trading post of New Amsterdam was initially developed in 1626 by Dutch merchants as a Colony
for trading furs and ship building lumber. During the English and Dutch War of the 1620's, the
English gained possession of New Amsterdam and renamed it New York in honor of Lord York
of England.
Gravestone from 1797 in Christ Church, Littlestown, Pennsylvania
Note the flower engraved below the design. This dispells the belief that the design is a flower.

The British did not discourage the Dutch and German immigrants from continuing their
migration to the New Amsterdam Colony, now known as New York. The area around New York
was inhabited by native tribes, and some of the fierce warriors were intent on fighting English
expansion. And, the English needed able bodied people to occupy the land and hold it for
English interests. The Reformed Church members were the largest group of immigrants to the
New York colony in the mid to late 1600's. Dutch and German Reformed Church people were
from the southern region of Germany, Holland, and the Low Country area of Europe. People
from the Low Country were also known as Low Dutch because of their regional German dialect.
Nicholaus Geihsel 1742-1777, St. Paul's Church in Cherryville, Pennsylvania
Note the flower engraved below the design. This dispells the belief that the design is a flower.

The Pennsylvania Colony was created in 1681 when William Penn was granted land in the
American Colonies by King Charles II of England. The King gave it the name of
Pennyslvania. King Charles II granted Penn the land as a debt of gratitude for the military
service of William Penn's father in the Majesty's Royal Navy. William Penn's mother was of the
Dutch Reformed faith and very religious. William was very tolerant and accepting of different
Christian religious sects. He traveled to Europe to encourage colonization of Pennsylvania by
the Reformed Church people who were being discriminated against by the Catholic
Church. And thus began the great migration of Dutch and German Reformed Church members
from Europe to Pennsylvania. Also, other Reformed church congregations made the trek to
Pennsylvania from the neighboring Colonies of Maryland, Lord Baltimore's possession and New
From the time of their arrival in Pennsylvania, the Low Dutch people used the ancient cultural
symbol to identify their relation to Christianity and the Reformed Church. This unique symbols
adorned gravestones, churches, barns, and quilts to honor their heritage. As demonstrated in the
photographs below, this symbol has an ancient history.
Dutch and German Reformed Church in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Members of the Dutch and German Reformed Church began migration from Europe to America
in the early 1600's and peaked in the 1750's. The photgraph below is of Conewago Church in
Gettysburg, Penna., built by Dutch Reformed people of the Conewago Colony in 1787.
Conewago Church in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, built in 1787

Visit the Adams County Historical Society: ACHS

In the mid-1700's, Reformed Churches stretched from New York and New Jersey to
Pennsylvania and Maryland. Eventually, they made their way to Christ Church in Littlestown
and Conewago (Gettysburg), Adams County, Pennsylvania, America. This church was the
center point for the Reformed Churches in the Adams County community. In the late 1780's,

this area was part of York County and later became Adams County. The image below is the
symbol above the door at the front of the Great Conewago Church in Gettysburg, Penna.

The Pennsylvania Dutch kept their cultural and religious heritage by speaking and writing the
Low-Dutch German dialect and maintaining their traditions. Many of the men in the Christ
Church congregation fought in the American Revolutionary War. Known as excellent
marksman, they formed the personal guard for General George Washington during the
Revolutionary War.
Visit: Pennsylvania Historical Society
Pennsylvania Dutch culture began to change in the 1830's, due to the conversion of language
from German to English. Declining leadership in the Dutch and German Reform Church
resulted in a gradual dissolution of the Reformed Church. Reformed church congregations
joined with Lutheran or Protestant churches. After merging congregations the Dutch and
German Reformed people sparingly used traditional symbols, specifically on gravestones.
Read more at: Dutch Reformed in Gettysburg, PA
Learn more about the Gettysburg church: Conewago Colony of Gettysburg
Pennsylvania on-line history resources: Pennsylvania State Archives
Visit: Pennsylvania's Historic Architecture & Archaeology
Pennsylvania Heritage Society
Is this design a Hex Sign, Flower of Life, of Morning Star?
The terms Hex Sign and Flower of Life were created in the 20th century by those who did not
understand the relationship of the design to Christianity. In fact, those who do not connect the
design with Christianity have a difficult time understanding Christian iconography. In the Bible,
book of Revelations, Christ calls himself the Morning Star. The location of the design on
gravestones and upon churches states to all, these people are Christian and believe in the
resurrection into the afterlife.
Revelations 2:26 to 2:28
"He who overcomes, and he who keeps my work to the end, to him I will give authority over the

nations. He will rule them with a rod of iron, shattering them like clay pots; as I also have
received of my Father; and I will give him the Morning Star."
Suggested readings & visits:
1) Metropolitan Museum in New York, USA
The Vermand Treasure
Coptic Christian Frieze
2) The British Museum
The Byland Abbey
3) Princeton Universitry, Index of Christian Art
The Mills Kronborg Collection of Danish Church Wall Paintings
(a) Janderup. c.1500AD-1520AD. Lily
Workshop. (M-K 13-001) Dedication crosses
Kirkerup. c.1350. (M-K 15-026) Resurrection. Choir, west arch. Christ, with cross nimbus,
bleeding from hands and side, right hand, three fingers extended, in blessing, left hand holding
vexillum, steps from tomb with right leg. Three soldiers sleep in foreground.
Linde. c.1500. (M-K 16-026) Decoration.
(a) Nicholaus Geihsel 1742-1777, St. Paul's Church in Cherryville, Pennsylvania
5) International Center for Medieval Art (ICMA)
6) Historical (Pre 1820) Dutch & German Reformed Churches in America
7)History Compass
8) "Rural Pennsylvania German Weaving 1835 - 1857 and The Christian Frey And Henry Small,
Pattern Books" - Tandy & Charles Hersh
9) "Faith and Family - Pennsylvania German Heritage in York County Area Fraktur" - June Burk
Lloyd - York Heritage Trust
10) "The Hands That Made Them...Quilts of Adams County, Pennsylvania" - Adams County
Quilt Project Commitee
11)"Hex Signs" - Pennsylvania Dutch Barn Symbols and Their Meaning Author - Don Yoder &
Thomas Graves - Stackpole Books

12)"Hex Signs and other Barn Decorations" - Elmer Smith and Mel Horst - Applied Arts