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Symbols of
Church Seasons &

John Bradner


John Bradner


illustrated by

Betty Wolfe

Kerry Dexter

Morehouse-Barlow Company
Wilton, Connecticut
Copyright (; 1977 by
Morehouse-Barlow Co., Inc.
78 Danbury Road
Wilton, Connecticut 06897

ISBN 0-8192-1228-8

Library of Congress Card No. 77-70805

Printed in the United States of America


Foreword 7

Advent 9

Christmas and Epiphany 15

Lent 35

Holy Week 39

Easter Ascension 49

Pentecost 55

Feasts of the Pentecost Season 57


Games With Symbols 67

Making Seasonal Scenes 68

Index of Entries 73

Index of Bible References 75

Bibliography 78
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2011
A symbol is intended to suggest meaning. It represents something below the surface.
Like a sign means of communication, a device to direct our thinking. Symbolism is
it is a
a language that may at hmes remind us of Egyptian hieroglyphics. But all symbolism is
not pictorial. Some of it is found in names and phrases, and, in fact, many pictorial
symbols had their origin in literature. A great deal of Christian symbolism goes back to
the Bible and other writings of many centuries ago. Knowing the background of a
symbol enables us to understand the reasons for its use. This is helpful in enjoying art
and literature and in using symbolism in our own creative efforts.
The accompanying collection of symbols is arranged according to the chief festivals
and seasons of the Christian Year. Items within each season are placed alphabetically.
Inevitably there has to be some duplication and overlapping, but the arrangement by
season will aid in selecting symbols for creative projects. An index will help users of the
book when doing reference work.
The symbols chosen were selected not only from art and decoration but also from
names and phrases found in seasonal hymns, legends and Bible passages. An effort has
been made to include a number of items not always given in the shorter books of
Further help in the form of illustration and background may be desired. The author
has found most useful two standard works on symbolism: George Ferguson's Signs and
Symbols in Christian Art and F. R. Webster's Church Symbolism. In addition, a dictionary
of the Bible and commentaries on individual books of the Bible may be consulted.
Pictures and art pamphlets are usually on sale at art galleries and museums. For further
suggestions see the bibliography and the appendix of this book.

Note on Bible Versions

Unless otherwise noted, Bible quotations are taken from the Revised Standard
Version. In certain cases it is an older translation to bring out the
necessary to cite
meaning of the symbol being discussed. When this happens, the particular version
used will be noted.

A new Christian year begins with the sesaon of Advent, which starts on the Sunday
nearest to November 30th. The first of the four Sundays of Advent is the Church's New
Year's Day.
This season of preparation for the celebration of Christmas takes its name from the
Latin word which means "coming" and refers to the coming of Christ. Church tradition
has assigned two themes to this coming: the first coming, when Jesus Christ was born
on Christmas Day, and the second coming at the end of the world when he will return
in judgment. Thus the season mixes joy in the redemption that has already come with
the sober awe of the judgment which confronts us. Modern interpretation makes

Advent a time of spiritual preparation, adding that Christ still is coming coming into
our hearts by grace to redeem and judge us now. He comes in Word and Sacrament,
especially in the Holy Eucharist.
Originally Advent was a season of penitential preparation for baptism, but since the
sixth century it has been the time of liturgical preparation for Christmas. Although the
penitential character has endured. Advent is primarily a season of solemn joy and of
anticipation. The traditional liturgical color is purple, the purple of majesty which
heralds the coming of the King of Kings.

Advent Wreath Trinity. (See TRIANGLE in the section

on Feasts of the Pentecost Season.)

As a symbolic object, the Advent
wreath with four candles serves well to
Alpha and Omega
designate this season. The wreath is

constructed of ever- An ancient symbol appropriate to the

greens, an ancient two themes of Advent may be found in
symbol of immortali- the two Greek letters
ty, life and growth. Alpha and Omega,
The circle of the "the first and the last,
wreath is unending f/\\/ \
the beginning and
and symbolic of ^ ' the end" of the Greek
eternity God was alphabet. Advent
and is and always The four will be. prepares us for the
candles represent the four Sundays of beginning and the
Advent. Purple is the appropriate color end of the Christian epoch. In the last
of these candles, following the liturgical chapter of the Bible (Revelation 22:12-13)
color of the season. On the first Sunday Christ speaks these words from heaven:
of Advent one candle is lit; two are lit for "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my
the second Sunday, and so on until the recompense, to repay every one for what
fourth week. Sometimes a fifth candle is he has done. I am the Alpha and the
added in the center on Christmas Eve, Omega, the first and the last, the begin-
which is the last day of Advent. This ning and the end." This verse makes the
candle is white, the color of purity and word a title of Christ and a fitting symbol
joy, and is known as the "Christ Can- to represent his first and second
dle". comings.
The candles, when lighted, symbolize Christ is the Word.
the Coming of Christ, the Light of the "He was in the begin-

World. (See CANDLE in the Christmas ning with God; all things
section.) were made through
The Advent wreath usually rests on a him, and without him
horizontal surface. This is especially ap- was not anything made
propriate when it is used in the home as that was made" (John
the center for daily Advent devotions. 1:2-3). At the conclusion of his gospel,
The wreath is the successor to the Matthew gives these words of Christ:
ancient corona or crown chandelier, "Lo, I am with you always, to the close of
which hung from the ceiling of the the age" (Matthew 28:20).
chancel. So sometimes hung hori-
it is This symbol is often accompanied by
zontally by four chains which converge other symbols for Christ to give an
at the ceiling, each pair making a trian- added meaning. Used in this connection
gle, one of the oldest symbols of the Holy are the cross, the chi rho (from the first

two letters of the Greek christos, "the the Baptist as fulfilling the role of Elijah,
Christ"), or a combination of the two. as for example this remark about John:
"And if you are willing to accept it, he is
Darkness Elijah who is to come." (Matthew 11:14)

Light issymbol of God's presence

Or the reply to his disciples' question,
and darkness, its opposite, a symbol of "'Why do the scribes say that first Elijah
his absence. Darkness stands for a lack of
must come?' and he said to them, 'Elijah
salvation which is overcome by the ar- does come first to restore all things . . .

rival of Christ the Messiah. But I tell you that Elijah has come . .

"The people who walked in (Mark 9:11-13)

darkness have seen a great light; A flaming chariot, or more simply a

those who dwelt in a land of deep flaming wheel, may be used as a symbol
darkness, on them has light for Elijah (II Kings 2:1-12).

shined." (Isa. 9:2)

"The night is far gone, the day is at Jesse Tree

hand. Let us then cast works of off the
darkness, and put on the armor of light"
JESSE TREE in Christmas section.
(Romans 13:12). See LIGHT in the
Christmas section.
John The Baptist
Because John the Baptist began his
According to a common view of the preaching before Jesus did and indicated
Jews in the first century A.D., a forerun- Jesus as "he who is coming
ner messiah
of the after me" and one who
would appear to an- "is mightier than I"
nounce his coming. Bas- (Matthew 3:11), he is called
ing their idea on the the forerunner. He made
book of Malachi, many the announcement of
thought that this Jesus' advent or coming.
forerunner would be Elijah returned to He is the central figure in
earth. The verses related to this expecta- the gospels of the second
tion are: and third Sundays of Advent.
"Behold, I messenger to
will send my In art John the Baptist sometimes car-
prepare the way before me, and the Lord ries a lamb in his arms and holds a scroll

whom you seek will suddenly come to bearing the Latin words: Ecce Agnus Dei
his temple." (Malachi 3:1) ("Behold the Lamb God" John 1:36).
"Behold, send you Elijah the
I will He traditionally holds a cross made of
prophet before the great and terrible day reeds, often with a banner attached to it.

of the Lord comes." (Malachi 4:5) Because the Virgin Mary and Elizabeth
Jesus seems to have considered John were related (see Luke 1:36), their sons.

Jesus and John, are often shown as chil- Tau Cross
dren in the same scene. See LAMB in
The letter T
Greek (tau) gives its
Holy Week section and BANNER in
name to the two-armed cross which is
Christmas section.
sometimes called the
Old Testament or
prophetic cross and
Last Judgment
so also the Advent
The message Advent is that Christ
of Cross. It is regarded
has come, still comes, and will come as the form of the
again to judge the living and the dead. staff which Moses
Paintings and sculptures of the Last used in the wilder-
Judgment usually show Christ in ness for displaying
majesty on his heavenly throne. In ear- the serpent of bronze. "So Moses made a
lier scenes (until the twelfth century) he bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and
issurrounded by the four winged crea- if a serpent bit a man, he would look at
tures of Revelation 4:6-7, man, lion, ox, the bronze serpent and live." (Numbers
eagle (starting at Christ's right shoulder 21:9) Jesus referred to this in John 3:14,
and going counterclockwise in the order "as Moses up
lifted the serpent in the
of Ezekiel 1:10).
wilderness, so must Son of Man be
In modern times these four creatures lifted up." See CROSS in Holy Week
usually symbolize the four Gospels or and Feasts of the Pentecost Season sec-
Evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke, tions.

John). In the Middle Ages they also rep- Titles of Jesus Christ
resented Christ's Nativity or Incarnation
(man), his sacrificial Death (ox), his Res- The Advent hymn, "O Come, O
urrection (lion) and his Ascension Come, Emmanuel," bestows on Jesus
(eagle). See EAGLE and LION in the Messiah a series of titles taken from
Easter-Ascension section. Holy Scripture and from the Advent an-
tiphons sung at vespers from December
In some Mary ap-
later art the Virgin
17th until Christmas Eve.
pears kneeling at Christ's right hand and
St. John kneels at the left. They are inter- (1) O Sapientia, "O Wis-
ceding for men. St. Michael, the angel of ^ dom." The concept of
death, with his scales, sometimes ap- X V^ I
J wisdom personified as
pears prominently. According to the \^^^^ found in Proverbs 8:22-
parable of the great judgment (sheep 31, and this made possi-
and goats) in Matthew 25:31-46, when ble the application of
the souls are shown gathered in judg- Christ, the wisdom from on high
ment the elect appear on Christ's right, through whom all things were made. A
the place of honor, and the damned on burning lamp is a traditional symbol for
his left. wisdom.

(2) O Adonai, "O (4) O Claris David, "Key of

Lord of Might," A David." A symbol of

key is a

Hebrew title of God. authority. The phrase comes

A substitute for his from Revelation 3:7, where it
name, which could is taken from the Old Testa-

not be spoken. The ment messianic passage in

burning bush is often Isaiah 22:22.
used as a symbol in (5) O Oriens,
connection with this The antiphon
title. "Dayspring from
itself gives us this thought: "O Adonai on high" (Luke
and Leader of the house of Israel, who 1:78 KJV). This re-
appeared to Moses in the fire of the flam- fers to the dawn-
ing bush and gavest him the law on ing of the mes-
Sinai; come and redeem us by thy out- sianic age, and recalls Malachi 4:2, "The
stretched arm." sun of righteousness shall rise with heal-
ing in its wings."

(3) O Radix "Rod" or

Jesse, (6) O Rex Gentium, "King
"Root of Jesse." The angel jT . of Nations. "Christ is refer-

told the Virgin Mary that Y*tV~/ r^d to as "King of kings

Jesus would inherit "the \ / and Lord of lords" in I

throne of his father David" Timothy 6:15 and Revela-

(Luke 1:32). Jesse was tion 19:16. See CROWN in Trinity Sun-
^. _,^^ David's father. Jesus is day Section.
4 jL, 31 thus honored as a king. In (7) O Emmanuel, "God
^^ ^^1 Revelation 22:16 Jesus with us." Matthew 1:23
says, "I am the root and the refers to Isaiah 7:14, "A
offspring of David."
and root

(Jesse). A
A symbolic repre-
a plant with flower (Jesus)
six-pointed star
represent Jesse and David, a chi rho or
young woman
conceive and bear a son,
and shall call his
Emmanuel." For ap-

iota chi Christ. See JESSE TREE in propriate symbols, see CANDLE and
Christmas section. CRIB in the Christmas section.

For other descriptive titles of Christ, see

the Christmas section. See also RE-
Holy Week section.

Christmas and Epiphany

The Twelve Days of Christmas begin with the feast of Christmas on December 25 and
end with the feast of the Epiphany on January 6. (The Twelve Nights begin on
Christmas Eve and end on Epiphany Eve.) According to the Church calendar,
Christmastide is concluded on January 5 and "The Epiphany" on January 6 begins an
Epiphanv season which varies in length according to the date of Easter.
On Christmas Day the world remembers the Incarnation of our Lord, that is, the
assuming of human form by God in Jesus Christ. The Book of Common Prayer puts it
this way: Christ "by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit was made perfect Man of the
flesh of the Virgin Mar\' his mother;" and calls it "the mystery of the Word made flesh"
Gohn l:lff).

The Christmas season, which begins with the Nativity on December 25, includes
some special days. These honor St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr (December 26),
St. John, apostle and evangelist (December 27), and the Holy Innocents killed at

Bethlehem (December 28). (Note that the revised Church calendar gives precedence to
the First Sunday after Christmas, possibly resulting in the postponement by one day of
one or more of the three.) To provide symbols for these saints' days, the following are
St. Stephen, who was stoned to death - stones and a palm branch;
St. John as apostle - a "poisoned" chalice with a serpent within; as evangelist - an
Holy Innocents - starry crowns of martyrdom and liUes of purity.
Epiphany season focuses the Christian's attention on the manifestations or appear-
ances of Christ as a divine being. The three traditional manifestations, since the early
centuries of the Church, have been:
The Nativity of Christ and the Adoration of the Wise Men;
The Baptism of Christ when the Spirit descended on him;
The first miracle at Cana when at a marriage Jesus turned water into wine.
References to these manifestations are made in the first two stanzas of the hymn,
"Songs of thankfulness and praise," by Christopher Wordsworth.

According to the three-year lectionary now employed in several church bodies the
Epiphany season is remembering that
also a period for
Jesus called disciples to help him and asked them to be "fishers of men;"
Jesus healed the sick in body and in mind;
Jesus was transfigured on the mountain (as recalled every year in the Gospel for the
Last Sunday after Epiphany).
Scholars now are inclined to believe that Epiphany originated in the East as a festival
commemorating both the Birth and the Baptism of Jesus Christ, while in the West a little
later Christmas (without Epiphany) was chosen to remember the Nativity and the
Adoration of the Magi. Eventually both festivals came into all church calendars. In the
West some churches were honoring the Magi on Epiphany instead of Christmas and
this custom finally became the rule in all the Roman churches. Liturgically everything
connected with the Lucan account of the Adoration of the Shepherds belongs with
Christmas and everything connected with the Matthean account of the Star in the East
and the Wise Men belongs with Epiphany. But popular favor has reverted to the earlier
idea of including the Magi in the observance of December 25. For the listing of symbols
it seems suitable to take both seasons and festivals together.

The Annunciation to the Virgin Mary might be taken as an Advent theme, but since
the scene is included in many of the older Nativity pictures and triptychs and in
Christmas pageants, its symbolism is discussed in this section.
The earliest representations of the Nativity and the Visit of the Magi up to about 400
A.D. were highly symbolic. The Christ Child was a divine king to be adored by the
shepherds representing the Jews, the Magi representing the Gentiles and the ox and
ass representing the natural world. The scene is shown in the open. Beginning in the
fifth century Western Nativities included a manger in an open shed while in the East

the Child was put in a cave.

Much fuller symbolism came in with the Renaissance artists as they depicted the
Bible story. They introduced elaborate architectural forms and the animal and plant life
which employ more subtle symbolism. In modern times there has been a trend back to

Angel Nativity scenes and represent the animal
creation paying homage to the Christ
Angels kneeling near the Holy Family
Child. sometimes claimed that the
It is
indicate adoration due a divinity. The
ass stands for the Gentile world and the
herald angel sometimes seen floating in
ox for the Jewish. The earliest account of
space with right hand raised represents
the two animals adoring the Child occurs
the announcement to the shepherds and
in the apocryphal Gospel of Pseudo-
is a true Nativity angel. An angel in a
Matthew (chap, xiv) and some Roman
circle in the sky stands for the star seen
Christian sarcophagi depict them. The
by the Magi. (See GABRIEL and STAR)
suggestion for placing them there may

Annunciation have come from Isaiah 1:3 "The ox

knows its owner, and the ass its master's
The name given to the event and scene crib." (See OX)
of the announcement by the angel Ga-
Augustus Caesar (Roman emperor
briel to the Virgin Mary of the Incarnation
of Jesus Christ (Luke 1:26-32). The scene
27B.C. 14 A.D.)
may appear as a part of a larger Nativity There is a legend depicted by some
picture or as one of the three scenes on a artists that the Emperor Augustus in-
triptych. According one tradition the
to quired of the Tiburtine Sibyl (a proph-
Virgin Mary is an enclosed garden (Song etess) if was anyone living as great
of Songs 4:12) and therefore flowers, as he. In reply she showed him her vi-
such as lilies, must be in the scene. See sion of the sun at noon and in its center a
GABRIEL and LILY. maiden holding a child in her arms. She
said: "This child is a greater lord than
Apple you are; worship him." The story is

By tradition the apple

recorded in the Golden Legend. This scene

is the fruit of the Para- represents the manifestation of Christ to

dise Tree. It is used the West as the Journey of the Magi does
for the East.
sometimes as a symbol
of Christ, the new (or Aureole
second) Adam. some
This artistic device
medieval Christmas
is a halo of radiance
plays there appeared a
encircling the body or
Paradise Tree adorned with apples. This
head of one of the
may be an early version of the Christmas
three Persons of the
Trinity: the Father,
the Son, or the Holy
Spirit. It issymbol of
The ass and the ox, although not men- divinity and supreme
tioned in the Gospels, usually appear in power. As the origin


of the word implies (Latin aurum, gold) with rays of light issuing from They it.

the aureole is usually shown in gold also liked to put in a figure of the god of
representing rays of light. Like the nim- the Jordan fleeing from the liver, and
bus or glory, the idea is of pagan origin. two or more ministering angels. The idea
Romans used it for their gods and for of the personified Jordan fleeing was
deified emperors. (See NIMBUS) justified by reference to Psalm 114:3,

"The sea looked and fled,

Balthasar or Balthazzar Jordan turned back."

(Actually this is a reference to Joshua and
One of the three Wise Men. See M AGl
his followers crossing the river in Joshua
Banner 3.) Occasionally a dragon is shown in the
Banners with symbols on them which water. This idea comes from Psalm

are seen in religious pictures sometimes 74:13, "thou didst break the heads of the
identify persons depicted. John the Bap- dragons on the waters."
tist may hold a staff with a banner on
which there is a cross of reed his sym-
bol. Banners in the form of streamers or The name means "house of bread." As
ribbons are used as a background for David's childhood home it was often
quotations having to do with the subject called the City of David (1 Samuel 17:12).

of the picture. In Micah 5:2 (quoted in Matthew 2:6) the

prediction is made that Bethlehem will

Baptism of Jesus Christ be the birthplace of a shepherd king.

Bethlehem is in the province of Judea.
Although the
"And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of
Gospels do not
say that the
are by no means least among the rulers
Holy Spirit de-
of Judah,
scended upon
forfrom you shall come a ruler
Christ while he
who will govern my people Israel."
was in the wa-
ter, the scene is Caesar Augustus (see AUGUSTUS)
frequently pic-
tured that way.
The Gospels do Since the camel provided a means of
tell us that travel and beast of burden in the Orient,

when Jesus had been baptized he went its appearance signifies a person from
up out of the water, the heavens opened, the East and usually one of royal mien.
and then he saw the Spirit of God de- Therefore it is appropriate in scenes of
scending like a dove (Matthew 3:16, the Wise Men. The Golden Legend says
Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22). Early Eastern that the Magi used dromedaries because
Christians often added the hand of God they travel swiftly.

Camels are highly valued in desert traveling containers. These caskets are
areas and places that are dry at certain sometimes shown in Epiphany pictures.

seasons of the year. A man's wealth was See MAGI.

measured sometimes by the camels he
owned. They would be especially useful Caspar
to men traveling great distances. Another name for Jaspar. See MAGI."
The Renaissance paintings of the Visit
of the Magi seem to have been influ- Cave
enced by the following two Bible verses.
While not biblical, the cave
She [the queen of Sheba] came to traditionally indicates the shelter in
Jerusalem with a very great retinue, which Christ was born. A cave near the
with camels bearing spices, and very ancient marketplace of Bethlehem was
much gold, and precious stones. (I
being pointed out as the birthplace
Kings 10:2) during the second century. Justin Martyr

A multitude of camels shall cover you, mentions it (about 150 A.D.). A century
Midian and later Origen knew of it. The church his-
the young camels of
Ephah; torian Eusebius tells that the Empress

all those from Sheba shall come. Helena made of the cave a splendid
and sanctuary. Her son Constantine built a
They shall bring gold
basilica over it. By 400 A.D. St. Jerome
and shall proclaim the praise of had settled in a monastery nearby and
the Lord. (Isaiah 60:6) was sometimes disturbed in his studies
by the crowds of pilgrims visiting this
Candle cave.

When lit the candle Apocryphal gospels mention the cave

reminds us that Jesus said: "I
as the site of Christ's birth and one
am the light of the world"
(Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew) states that

(John 8:12), and that Simeon

on the third day Mary and the Child
called him "a light to lighten
moved from the cave into the stable
the Gentiles" (Luke 2:32 where the baby was placed in the
made manger.
KJV). Yule candles, extra large to
keep burning throughout the night of The cave often appears in Nativity
pictures. It helps to emphasize the
Christmas Eve, are symbols of good luck
as long as they rernain burning.
humble estate of Mary and Joseph and
the humility of the Son of God's taking
Caskets flesh (the Incarnation). See STABLE.

When wisemen were "opening

their treasures" (Matthew 2:11), they
were taking the gifts of gold, This word comes from the Greek word
frankincense and myrrh out of their Christ OS, meaning "the anointed." It is a

translation of Mashiah (messiah). The Christmas Rose
early Church applied the title Christ to
Helleborus niger is the botanical
Jesus of Nazareth and it thus became
name of this winter blooming flower.
part of his name. Originally the kings of
Being white, it symbolizes the purity of
Israel (Saul, David, Solomon) were
the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child.
anointed on the head when assuming
the kingship. The rite was intended to
transfer to the man anointed some of the
holiness, virtue and spirit of God. The Christmas Tree
New Testament indicates that the early The tree as a religious symbol takes us
Christians considered Jesus as the
back to the very beginning of history.
Messiah or Christ looked for by the
The Tree of Life enjoyed great popularity
Jewish nation.
as a symbol for many centuries. There
was one in the Garden of Eden along
with the Tree of Knowledge which
caused the fall of Adam and Eve. In the
Christmas Day
Middle Ages the Cross was regarded as
Christmas is the Tree of Life.
Christ-mass, a re- A legend in the Gospel of Pseudo-
ligious festival Matthew tells that when the Holy Family
honoring the Na- was on the way to Egypt they were pass-
tivity ofOur Lord ing a palm tree laden with fruit. Mary
Jesus Christ. The wished for some, but the fruit was up at
day and month of the top, out of reach. The infant Jesus
his birth are un- commanded the tree to bow down and it
recorded. The did so, enabling them to gather the fruit.
Church fixed on December 25 in Rome in In medieval religious Christmas plays
the middle of the fourth century appar- the Tree of Paradise was sometimes
ently as a counter-attraction for Chris- shown. One on record happens to be a
tians to the birthday of the Sol Invictus juniper adorned with apples and
(Unconquered Sun) of Mithraism then ribbons. Sometimes Christ was regarded
being celebrated at Rome. December 25 as the Tree of Paradise. Christ as the
was the winter solstice according to the Light of the World and the Tree of Life
Julian calendar. Christ has been called may have given a Christian meaning to
the "Sun of Righteousness" who shall the honoring of the tree in paganism. At
rise "with healing in his wings" (Malachi any rate, the Paradise Tree impresses
4:2 KJV). This beautiful image comes some authorities as one source of the
from a symbol in Egypt and the Near Christmas Tree.
East in which the sun disk with wings Other sources of the
represents protection and blessing. Christmas Tree can be found in the

Roman custom of decoratinghouses (5:2-4). This accounts for the New
with evergreens on the Kalends of Testament interest David as the
in citing

January (New Year's Day) and a popular great ancestor of the Christ, beginning
belief that on Christmas Eve apple and with his birth in Bethlehem, "the city of
other fruit trees produced blossoms. David" (See Luke 1:69, 2:4,11). Emblems
This latter may be related to the custom for David include the harp or lyre on

of cutting cherry and other flowering which he played (I Samuel 16:16 and I
boughs to put in water in the warm Chronicles 13:8), and the head of the lion
indoors for Christmas blooming. which he slew (l Samuel 17:34f).
Certainly a decorated and lighted tree Dove
helps impress on our emotions the joy
At the Baptism of Jesus the presence of
connected with the Coming of Christ.
the Holy Spirit became evident by the
appearance of a dove descending upon
him (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke
Crib or Creche 3:22). This is the usual symbol for the

Spirit of God. See DOVE in the section on

The original crib in
Feasts of the Pentecost Season.
which the Christ Child was
laid was a manger in the Epiphany
stable, a sign of the humble
The name comes from the Greek word
surroundings of his birth. epiphaneia, "appearance." In Western
In imitation of this the
churches this feast commemorates the
Church of Maria
revelation or manifestation of Christ to
Maggiore at Rome had a the Gentiles as portrayed by the Wise
wooden replica at which Men from the East. In the East Epiphany
the midnight Christmas mass was cele-
served as the original festival of the
brated. This crib is known as the Incarnation. In some ancient churches
praesepe (manger). The popular Epiphany also commemorated the
Christmas creche at churches and in Baptism of our Lord and the birth of light
homes creates a tableau of Jesus in the
("The true light that enlightens every
stable crib at Bethlehem, depicting
man was coming into the world." John
scenes described by Luke and Matthew.

David Frankincense
As the "anointed" (and in this sense a Gums and spices
messianic) king of Israel David founded which may be burned to
a royal house destined to continue as the produce a fragrant
rulers of the nation. The idea that the smoke as a feature of re-
future Messiah would be a descendant of ligious ceremonies are
David, of the "house of David," received called incense. Frank-
strength from Isaiah (chap. 7) and Micah incense is a particu-

lar kind of incense of high quality. It terial and were decorated with fruit; or
comes from trees of the genus Boswellia they were strings of fruit similar to the
found in Africa and Asia. It was highly cranberry strings used on Christmas
esteemed by the Greeks, Romans, and trees today. Evergreens remind us of the
Jews. Since it was an accompaniment of preservation of life through the dead-
worship, it symbolizes divinity. ness of winter.
Gabriel Another name for Jaspar. See MAGI.
He is one of the archangels and is fre-

quently dignified with the title of Saint. Gate

Gabriel is the angel of the Annunication The Jews had number of psalms
a for
to the Virgin Mary, while by tradition festival use. One that was probably in-
Raphael is the angel who brought the tended for the New Year is Psalms 24.
news of Jesus' birth to the shepherds. Verse 7 reads:
Luke specifies Gabriel as the angel "sent "Lift up your heads, O gates!
from God" to tell Mary that she would and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
bear a son to be called Jesus (Luke 1:26). King of glory may come in."
that the
Earlier the same angel appeared to Christians have expanded this reference
Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, to include the Messiah. A hymn based
saying, "I am Gabriel, who stand in the on this psalm, written by Georg Weissel
presence of God; and I was sent to you to for the First Sunday of Advent, begins:
bring you this good news" (Luke 1:19). Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates;
Early representations of the An- Behold the King of Glory waits!
nunciation show Gabriel wearing a The King of Kings is drawing near;
crown and carrying a scepter to indicate The Saviour of the world is here.
sovereignty. Later he is subordinated to
the Virgin and holds in place of the scep- Gifts
ter a lily which signifies the purity of
The first Christmas were those
presented to the Christ Child by the

Wise Men. See MAGI.
Saint Nicholas, the original Santa
Christmas garlands and evergreens Claus, secretly left gifts of gold at a poor
apparently came in as a carry-over from man's house so that he could honorably
the customs of Greece and Rome. Deco- marry off his daughters with dowries.
rating with evergreens formed a part of This legend was cited as an example of
the Kalends (or New Year's) celebrations the good saint's love of any of God's
observed by Christians for several cen- children in distress. Later Saint Nicholas
turies in the Christian era. The garlands became the patron saint of school chil-
were often made of some evergreen ma- dren and, according to tradition in some

countries. Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus New Testament "glory." Hebrews held
leaves gifts secretly during the night. a belief in God's personal presence on
Possibly the Roman Kalends of earth and their use of the term
January custom of gift giving is partly "shekinah" or glory carried with it the
responsible for Christmas gifts. E. K. idea of God's presence among men.
Chambers shows the symbolism of some At his conversion St. Paul saw "a light
of the Kalends gifts: "honeyed things, from heaven, brighter than the sun."
that the year of the recipient might be full (Acts 26:13) This helped convince him
of sweetness, lamps that it might be full that Jesus, the Lord, was actually there
of light, copper, silver and gold that speaking to him.
wealth might flow in amain" (Medieval
Stage, I. 238).
Gold represents wealth and royalty.
Glastonbury Thorn As a gift to the Christ Child it symbolizes
his kingship. See MAGI.
This hawthorn bush blooms annually
at the Christmas season. According to Hand or Hands
legend Joseph of Arimathea, the man
responsible for burying the body of When shown at the top of the scene of
Jesus, migrated to England and settled at Jesus' Baptism the hand or hands with
Glastonbury. He stuck his staff into the fingers extended downwards indicates

ground there, and it grew into a tree, and the presence of God the Father and his

blossomed at Christmas. This goes along blessingon the event. This is the artist's
with the general idea that blossoming rendering of the words "Thou art my

boughs and accompanied Christ's

beloved son; with thee I am well
birth. See CHRISTMAS TREE. pleased" (Mark 1:11; also Matthew 3:17;
Luke 3:22). See BAPTISM OF JESUS
Glory of the Lord CHRIST.

This glory (Luke 2:9) which the Herod

shepherds saw is the brightness or
splendor of God revealing his presence. The aged King of Judea at the time of
The prophet Ezekiel had a vision of God Jesus' birth and the visit of the Magi. He

on his throne. In concluding his descrip- died at about the age of seventy in 4 B.C.

tion of this he says, "Such was the ap- Because of his mad desire to kill the

pearance of the likeness of the glory of Christ Child and the slaughter of the in-

the Lord." (Ezekiel 1:28) At Jesus' Trans- nocent male babies in Bethlehem, he is

figuration Peter, James and John looking popularly the embodiment of evil.

athim "saw his glory." (Luke 9:32)

The Hebrew "shekinah", which the
Jews believed would appear with the Holly (Ilex) has thorny leaves which
Messiah, is roughly equivalent to the remain green when branches are cut.

and the fruit is a red berry. The Scripture verse which applies is
Because of this it is sym-

Luke 2:21 "And at the end of eight
bolic of the crown of thorns days, when he was circumcised, he was
and drops of blood on the called Jesus."
Savior's head. By tradition
it is also the burning bush
which became sacred to Moses. Al-
though holly reminds us of the Passion, When God Son took human form
it is also one of the evergreens which and became Jesus Christ on earth, it was
from ancient times has been deemed ap- God becoming incar-
propriate for celebrating the great winter nate (made flesh). The
festival. term expresses the be-
lief that in Jesus God
"Has visited and re-
I H S, I HC deemed his people"
(Luke The Incar-
These three letters stand for the name nation became evident
"Jesus" in Greek. There is no J in the to the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation
Greek and Latin alphabets; so I is used and to the world at the Nativity and the
instead. H is the capital E in Greek, and Epiphany. Renaissance artists used the
C is the cursive script for S. So these are swallow as a symbol of the Incarnation in
the first two and the last letters (or the scenes of the Annunciation and the Na-
first three) of JESUS. Scribes used a line
tivity. These birds nest under eaves and
or bar over the middle letter, IHS, to in holes of walls. See SWALLOW in Eas-
indicate an abbreviation. This bar shown ter section.
later became a Latin cross over the H.
(Periods should never be used after any
of these letters.) Inn
This symbol becomes
Luke says, "There was no place for
appropriate to the
them in the inn." Jesus was born in more
Christmas season be- humble quarters, which tradition re-
cause it was eight days gards as either a stable or a cave. Artists
after his birth that our sometimes show the Holy Family in or
Lord received his
near a cave or shed. A house near them is
name which is
a date
not always meant to be the Bethlehem
remembered on January 1 in our calen- inn. It may represent the home of Jesse,
dar. Various names for this festival
father of David, now being superseded.
within the Twelve Days of Christmas
are: "The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus
Christ," "The Circumcision of Christ,"
Jaspar (or CASPAR or GASPARD)
and "The Octave Day of Christmas." One of the three Magi. See MAGI.

Jesse and Jesse Tree whom standeth for an ensign of the
The father of David, named Jesse, Medieval interpretations made the rod
lived in Bethlehem and his old hut, in (Latin virga) mean the Virgin, the root
ruins, often appears in Nativity scenes. mean tree and the flower Christ. As Am-
The lineage of Jesus Christ is traced back brose said: "The root is the family oi the
through David (Matthew l:6ff.;
to Jesse Jews, the stem Mary, the flower of Mary
Luke 2:4ff.) and the prophecy in Isaiah is Christ."
11:1 is sometimes cited in this connec- See TITLES OF JESUS CHRIST in Ad-
tion: vent section.
"There shall come forth a shoot from Kalends (Calends) of January
thestump of Jesse, and a branch shall
Kalends refers to the first day of a
grow out of his roots."
Roman month. In January this was the
A symbol of this lineage is found in the
Roman New Year's Day and a time for
Jesse tree. In this Jesse is represented in a celebrating. This festival covered a
recumbent position with a tree or vine period of three days. Some of its cus-
growing out of his loins. Attached to the toms, such as decorating with greenery
tree are symbols of various personages
and giving gifts, have been appropriated
in the line of descent. The Virgin Mary for Christmas.
and the child Jesus usually appear at the
Kings (see MAGI)
Luke tells that Jesus happened to be Laurel
born Bethlehem because Joseph was
As d Christmas decoration laurel came
of the house of David and went back to
into favor very early because of its use by
Bethlehem to be enrolled.
Greeks and Romans and especially at the
Notice the refer- Kalends of January (New Year's). From
ence to Jesse in the laurel, wreaths used to be made to crown
Christmas hymn, "I the victors in sporting events. Thus it
know a rose-tree symbolizes triumph and victory. The
springing." fact that laurel isan evergreen and does
The symbolism of not wilt gives it also an association with
the Tree of Jesse was eternity and everlasting life. According
suggested by the to old customs laurel makes an appro-
Latin text of the priate material for Christmas wreaths
above verse from Isaiah 11:1, plus verse and garlands.
10. The Douai translation of this runs:
And there shall come forth a rod out of
the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise Sometimes in depictions of the Adora-
upoutof his root. . . . And the spirit of tion of the Magi a leopard is shown. As a
the Lord shall be the root of Jesse, symbol of sin or the devil, in this case it is

mean^ remind us that the Incarnation
to Magi
of Christ was necessary for the redemp-
Their Profession. The Wise Men of
tion from sin. See DEVIL in the Lent
Matthew 2 are not kings but priestly stu-
dents of the stars,men accustomed to
interpreting the significance for human
affairs of themovements of heavenly
Christ called himself "the Light of the bodies and th"e meaning of dreams.
World" (John 8:12). He added, "he who They were not Jews, but represent pagan
follows me will not walk in darkness, but religions, or as the Jews called such peo-
will have the light of life." Darkness ple. Gentiles.
stands for evil and sin. Light represents The idea that they were also kings
righteousness and the presence of God. came out of Eastern Christianity as a re-
Light is symbolic of Christ. In the calen- sult of several Old Testament verses
dar year Christ appeared at the darkest thought to be predictions. The chief of
time when days are just beginning to get these is Psalms 72:10,
longer and brighter.
May the kings of Tarshish and of the
In Nativity scenes light often fills the
isles render him tribute,
cave or stable and according to the Pro-
May the kings of Sheba and Seba bring
tevangelium of James the bright light
came from the babe in the manger.
Christmas candles and lights originally The kings represent distant nations
stood for the coming of Christ into the come to pay homage. Other passages
world. They are also symbolic of joy and suggesting them as kings include Isaiah
righteousness. 60:3,

See DARKNESS in the Advent sec- Nations shall come to your light.
tion. And kings to the brightness of your

As a symbol of purity Their Number and Names. Ori-

this flower belongs particu- ental tradition places their
larly to the Virgin Mary. It number at twelve and assigns %,^Ji ^
is often shown in pictures names unknown in the West. \

of the Annunciation either In early Christian art they are . ^

in a vase between the Vir- depicted in symmetry, in ^"^ ^w
gin and the angel or in even numbers, two, four or
Thus the
Gabriel's hand. six. By Abelard's time in the Middle
lily in an angel's hand des- Ages the idea of the three gifts had fixed
ignates the Archangel their number at three. By the same time

Gabriel. See ANNUNCIATION and their Latin names had been decided

GABRIEL upon as Jaspar, Melchior and Balthasar.

Their Nationality and Race. Matthew tells vinity and myrrh mortal humanity.
only that they came from the East. Early Irenaeus said that they brought "myrrh
representahons picture them in Persian because it was he who should die and be
dress. The countries mentioned in Psalm buried for the mortal human race; gold
72:10 (Tarshish, Sheba, Seba) and Isaiah because he was a king, 'of whose king-
60:6 (Sheba) provided material for the dom no end;' and frankincense be-

medieval legend that they were: cause he was God."

*King of Tarshish, land of merchants Tradition varies as to which name goes
in the West, who brought gold. with which gift. According to the legend
*King of Arabia and Nubia, who found in Bede's writings, Jaspar
brought frankincense. presented incense, Balthasar offered
* King of Seba, land of spices and pre- myrrh and Melchior brought gold.
cious gums in the East, who brought See FRANKINCENSE, GOLD and
myrrh. MYRRH.
Some medieval sermons state that the
three Magi, who were prefigured by the Manger
three sons of Noah (Shem, Ham and See CRIB.
Japheth), represent the three races of
mankind (from Europe, Asia and Africa) Melchior
rendering homage to Christ.
One of the Wise Men. See MAGI.
Their Ages and Appearance. Originally the
facial appearance of the Magi depended Messiah
on the area of the artistic creation. In the
This is the Hebrew term for Christ.
West they were shown as beardless, but
The Old Testament taught the Jews to
in the East the three were either all
expect salvation or deliverance to come
bearded or depicted individually as
from God at the hands of a kingly mes-
heavily bearded, small-bearded and
siah. The one to bring salvation is also
beardless. Along with this latter tradi-
called the Savior. Joseph was told that
tion went the idea that the three repre-
Jesus "will save his people from their
sented old age, middle age and youth. In
sins''(Matthew 1:21), and the angel an-
a legend recorded in Bede's works Balth-
nounced to the shepherds the birth of "a
asar has dark skin and a full beard, Jas-
Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke
par young and beardless with a ruddy
countenance, and Melchior is middle-
aged, sallow and small-bearded. Mistletoe

Their Gifts. The early Church Fathers, Once connected with the death of Bal-
writing in the first half of the third centu- dur in Scandinavian lore, mistletoe in
ry, cited significant reasons for the the Christian world became
symbol of a
choice of gold, frankincense and myrrh; joy and good will. Some have thought
that is, gold signifies royalty, incense di- that the religious ceremony of the kiss of

peace may have contributed to the cus- ". and an ox and an ass worshipped
. .

tom of using this bough for a kissing him. Then was fulfilled that which
privilege. was said by the prophet, Isaiah, 'The
ox knows his owner and the ass his
Myrrh master's crib.' (Is. 1:3) Thus the beasts,
ox and ass, with him between them,
This gum resin comes
unceasingly worshipped him. Then
from Africa and Arabia. Its
was fulfilled that which was said by
taste is bitter and pungent.
the prophet Habakkuk, 'Between two
Ancient peoples valued it
beasts are you known.'" (Habakkuk
as an ingredient for per-
3:2, Septuagint trans.)
fumes and unguents. It
symbolizes a suffering
Pack or Sack
body or death because it is

used to anoint bodies before burial. See A legend of St. Nicholas tells of his

MAGI. using a bag of gold as a gift for poverty-

stricken maidens. Santa Glaus, who is a
Nimbus modern equivalent of the good saint,

Taken from the Latin word for

must have a container to hold his gifts.

Like his predecessor he uses a cloth bag,

"cloud," the nimbus surrounding the
head or body signifies a holy person. It is
grown into a large pack or sack. See

also known as the "glory." The usual GIFT and ST. NICHOLAS.
color is gold, but other colors such as
sometimes found.
red, blue, or green are
Paradise Tree
It represents divine glory. See AU-
Noel or Nowel
Noel is a French word probably de- A symbol of im-
rived from the Latin natalis (dies), day of mortality and eternal
nativity, referring to the Nativity of life. It sometimes ap-
Christ. The word has become an expres- pears in Nativity
sion of joy in English carols. scenes. According to
ancient legend the
peacock's flesh does
Along with the ass this animal appears not decay when dead.
in many Nativity scenes. In early repre- Roman coins depicted
sentations they are on their knees in an emperors being car-
attitude of worship. This idea finds liter- ried to heaven by
ary expression in the Gospel of eagles and empresses by peacocks. See
Pseudo-Matthew which says: also PEACOCK in Easter section.

Pomegranate Reindeer

This sometimes seen in the hand

fruit, These animals, according to the old

of the Christ Child (as in the Adoration draw the sleigh of Santa Claus.
of the Magi by Fra They seem to have come to America for
Angelico), gets its meaning the Christmas festivities in the pleasant
of the hope of resurrection imagination of Clement Moore who
from the classical myth of wrote the popular poem, "A Visit
Persephone. As wife of from St. Nicholas." Reindeer were
Pluto and goddess of the domesticated in Scandinavia many years
underworld, Persephone could not hve ago and they were trained to wear
in the upper world as her mother harness and draw sleighs. According to
Demeter desired, but could only return Moore St. Nicholas "was dressed all in
periodically for the portion of the year fur, from his head to his foot." The
when vegetation exists above ground. conclusion can easily be drawn that the
Her only food in the underworld had animals and the man represent winter
been seeds from a pomegranate which and the far northern regions. See SAINT
she shared with her husband Pluto, but NICHOLAS.
because she had eaten this in the
underworld she was required to spend Ruins
part of each year there. In Renaissance paintings of the Na-
tivityand of the Visit of the Magi ruined
Prince of Peace
or incomplete buildings, walls, or
This is one of the titles of theMessiah gateways may be shown. This happens
found in Isaiah 9:6. The whole verse partly from the growing interest at that

reads: time in classical architecture and the

For unto us a child is born, remains of old Roman buildings. But a

to us a son is given; tradition prevailed that a house in ruins

and the government will be upon his at the time of Jesus' birth was once
shoulder, inhabited by Jesse, the father of David,
and his name will be called and was near the spot where David
"Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, tended the sheep. Since Jesse's time the
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." house had become a shed only partially
Jesus came to bring "peace on earth, protected from the weather. Jesse's
goodwill to men." The Prince of Peace, house falling to ruins typified the old

it was hoped, would do more than dispensation which with Christ's birth
obliterate the desire and need for war. was being superseded.
He would also bring harmony and posi-
Saint Nicholas and Santa Glaus
tive well-being to his people.
See TITLES OF JESUS CHRIST in the Santa Claus is an American name,
Advent section. derived from the Dutch, for the original

Saint Nicholas. He was a fourth century thority kings may hold a rod or wand
Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor. On his called a scepter. Originally
day, December 6, Dutch children look this may have been simply a
for the kindly saint dressed in bishop's staff and later a weapon.
robes as he rides around on a white Scepters frequently terminate
horse while he distributes gifts. Many at the top with a further
legends have grown up around his symbol such as an eagle. To
name. Some of them are told in the me- show that they represent the sovereign
dieval Golden Legend which is a God angels may
hold a scepter. In An-
compilation of the lives of the saints. It is nunciation scenes Gabriel sometimes
in this book that the story appears of carriesone as the herald of God. The
Nicholas secretly giving bags of gold to symbol of the scepter is used in a famous
the three daughters of a poor neighbor. messianic passage in the Old Testament,
When Clement C. Moore wrote "A Visit Numbers 24:17, "A scepter shall rise out
from Saint Nicholas" in New York in of Israel."
1822, reindeer and sleigh and stockings Sheep and Shepherds
at the chimney entered into his poem
about "St. Nick," but the designation The shepherds "in the field keeping
Santa Claus was not used by him. In a watch over their flock by night" repre-
more general way gifts borne by Santa sent the humble Jewish folk to whom

Claus symbolize the original gifts of the Christ was first presented. They may be

Wise Men to the Christ Child. contrasted with the foreign, non-Jewish

See GIFT, PACK, REINDEER. (Gentile) Magi who came from distant
lands bearing rich gifts. One tradition
places their sheep field at the "tower of
This title of Christ at Christmas comes the flock" which is near Rachel's tomb
principally from the message of the on the road from Bethlehem to
herald angel to the shepherds: "To you is Jerusalem.
born this day in the city of David a Savior
who is Christ the Lord," (Luke 2:11).
Joseph had a dream in which an angel The scallop shell with
appeared to him to announce that his a few drops of water is a
wife Mary would bear a son, "and you symbol of baptism, and
shall call his name Jesus, for he will save at times of the Baptism
his people from their sins" (Matthew of Christ. In this latter
1:21). The Jewish nation was also looking scene it is held by John
for a savior king who should set them the Baptist.
free from foreign yoke.
Scepter (Sceptre)
What sort of a shelter was Mary in
As an emblem of royal power and au- when Jesus was born? The Gospels do

not say. The idea of a find an oracle in Numbers 24:17, "a star
stable is suggested by shall come used by
forth out of Jacob,"
a * it Luke's manger and "no Christians as a prediction of Christ; and

^X 11 place for them in the in Revelation 22:16 the heavenly Jesus
^ I inn." It could have been said, "I am the root and offspring of
one-room Palestinian
a David, the bright morning star."
cottage in which domestic animals The Star of the East, which the Wise
shared space with the family. Matthew Men from the East followed to
refers to the "house" in which the Magi Bethlehem, is both a symbol of the "king
found the Holy Family. Jews" and a sign of divine guid-
of the
The tradition that the holy birth took ance to that King. As
place in a cave have originated
seems to Persians the Magi probably ^^ I /
in the middle of the second century A.D. believed that this star was -^ /l '

Several of the apocryphal gospels the fravashi of a greatman,

mention it. The latest one (Gospel of that is, the heavenly image
Pseudo-Matthew) tells us that Mary took or prototype. Medieval
her baby from the cave into a stable on artists started the custom

the third day. The Golden Legey:d cites of placing the face of a child
an authority' to show and that Joseph or an angel in a bright disk in the sky to
Mary found shelter in a shed between represent this The second century

two houses. Cave, stable, shed all apocryphal Gospel of the Infancy by
appear in one or another of the Thomas (III. 3) records, "at the same
painhngs, sculptures or creche scenes. time there appeared to them an angel in
Usually the shed or stable is depicted the form of that star which had before
as being a rather open shelter; some- been their guide in their journey." Me-
times a building falling into ruins. The dieval artists certainlv knew that the
humble beginning of the Savior's life is Golden Legend told that according to
thus vividly brought to mind. We can Chrysostom the Magi saw a star which
also recall Christ's words to would-be had the shape of a child with a fiery cross
disciples: "Foxes have holes, and birds on his head.
of the air have nests; but the Son of Man The Star of Bethlehem is five-pointed.
has nowhere to lav his head" (Matthew It is properly an Epiphany rather than a

8:20). Christmas symbol.

Sun of Righteousness
"The sun of righteousness shall rise,
The star is one of a number of royal with healing in its wings," is a reference
symbols. By Christian times it had be- in Malachi 4:2 to what will happen at the
come a messianic symbol as well. In day of judgment. The used by
title is
addition to the appearance of the star to Christians as a title for Jesus, the Mes-
the Magi recorded in Matthew 2:2, we siah. The sun of God's righteousness

symbolizes health and defense. The cient custom of using the bountiful gifts

"wings" are the sun's rays. The winged of nature for festival decoration. They
sun is a symbol in the Near East for symbolize Christmas as a feast. See
blessing and protection. CHRISTMAS TREE.

Torch Trumpet
All ancient sources of light such as a The Jews used
candle, a lantern, or a torch are appro- trumpets in the tem-
priate symbols at the Nativity of Christ, ple especially at festi-
the Light of the World. Torches and lan- vals. For instance,
terns also remind us of the traditional the Jewish New Year was announced by
idea that Christ was born at midnight. the sound of the trumpet. Christians are
more likely to picture the trumpet in the
Tower hands of an angel than a man. In this
case it may be part of the choir of the
The tower of some Nativity
OfOJ scenes may have been
heavenly host or summoning the elect to
the last judgment.
suggested by the "tower of
the flock" (Migdal-eder) which
is near Bethlehem to the east.

S Micah's prediction
the kingdom
of Jerusalem
the "tower of the
of the

understood as referring to the an-

(4:8) that

come to
flock" was

nouncement of the birth of the Messiah.

This mythical animal had one horn in
the middle of
legend the only
its forehead. According to
way to capture a unicorn
to lay a trap for
virgin seated
it, which would be
where the unicorn was
acccustomed to run. The unicorn would

According to this tradition the stop and go to her and lay its head in her
Shepherds heard the angel's proclama- lap. Christian writers made this an al-
tion at this place. legory of the Annunciation to the Virgin
and the Incarnation of Christ, born of a
Tree of Jesse (See JESSE TREE) Virgin.

Tree Ornaments Wassail and Wassailing

Christmas tree ornaments may have In old England there used to be a

had their origin in the trimmings of the Christmas custom of drinking to fruit
old Roman Kalends of January celebra- trees (or to cattle) in order to insure their
tion. Originally the treeornaments were thriving. Later the custom became a mat-
substitutes for natural fruit such as ap- ter of drinking healths from a wassail
ples. The small fruits and nuts used on bowl. Wassailing was the term even-
wreaths today are examples of this an- tually applied to going about from one

house to another at Christmas singing a from paganism, symbolizes victory or
song of good wishes for Christmas and immortality. It is frequently seen carved
the New Year. A wassail bowl is filled on sarcophagi and tombs. The wreath
with spiced ale or beer, which is served made of actual leafy boughs is thought to
foaming hot with apples floating in it. bring to the user the divine power of the

Wheat tree of life. Furthermore it may represent

the presence of divine royalty. See
Either a sheaf of wheat or several HOLLY, LAUREL.
stalks of wheat appear in some Nativity
scenes. These may be intended as food
for the animals, or when the shepherds
are shown, an offering which they
brought. Beyond this, the wheat, which This is a Teutonic name for Christmas.
is a familiar ingredient of bread, stands Originally Yule was a season roughly
for Jesus who said, "I am the bread of equivalent to the months of December
life" (John 6:35) and "the bread of God is and January. On becoming Christians
that which comes down from heaven, the Germanic tribes kept the name Yule
and gives life to the world" (John 6:33). and some of its customs for their observ-
ance of Christmas tide. The boar's head
and Yule log of the old-time Christmas
The evergreen wreath, a carryover are two of the Yule survivals.


As a season Lent was originally a period of preparation for Easter baptism. During
this time of instruction the catechumens fasted and prayed. The climax came in the
all-night vigil of Easter Even with baptism and confirmation and the celebration of
Christ's Resurrection. At a later time all church members joined in making Lent a
penitenhal season of mourning for sin. As time went on more interest was shown in the
trials and sufferings of Jesus than in anticipating his victorious Resurrection.

The forty weekdays of Lent represent the period which Jesus spent in the wilderness
during his Temptation. According to Matthew and Luke he fasted for forty days. The
symbolism of Lent, aside from Holy Week, centers on sin, temptation and penitence.
Lent's liturgical color, violet, stands for penitence.



Ashes, Ash Wednesday devil comes prominence during

Lent. He is the personification of evil and
The name of the first day of Lent, Ash
the mythical enemy of Christ himself as
Wednesday, comes from the old custom
well as of every follower of Christ. Mark
of blessing ashes and marking the
(1:13) says that Jesus"was in the wilder-
foreheads of the penitent faithful with
ness forty days, tempted by Satan."
ashes on this day. The ashes are pre-
Matthew (4:1) and Luke (4:2) both tell
pared by burning palms from the preced-
that in the wilderness Jesus was "tempt-
ing Palm Sunday. This marking is done
ted by the devil," and reveal three temp-
as a symbol of the penitenhal character
tations which Jesus successfully re-
of the Lenten season. The idea comes
from Old Testament times when mourn-
The devil is familiarly depicted as the
ers or penitents clothed themselves in
Prince of the Underworld equipped with
sackcloth and sprinkled their heads and
a pitchfork. In pictures of Jesus' tempta-
faces with dust or ashes. Job said,
tions he often appears with the wings of
"Therefore I despise myself and repent
a fallen angel. He may wear a crown as
in dust and ashes" (Job 42:6). Words of
the King of Pride. Pictorially he is some-
Jesus that apply may be found in
times related to the mythical satyr of un-
Matthew 11:21, "Woe to you, Bethsaida!
savory repute and is given the horns and
for if the mighty works done in you had
hoofs of a goat.
been done in Tyre and Siden, they
Revelation 12 contains a vision of the
would have repented long ago in sack- conflict between Christ and Satan. In
cloth and ashes."
verse 9 we read "the great dragon was
But Jesus condemned the hypocrites
thrown down, that ancient serpent, who
of his day who made such a display of
is called the Devil and Satan." Accord-
their piety rather than serving God with ingly the devil is often represented by a
the spiritual purpose that should ac-
dragon (especially when shown van-
company any outward sign of penitence quished by St. Michael) or a serpent, or if
This is referred to in the following por-
shown like a man he has a reptile's tail.
tion of the Ash Wednesday gospel:
The following animals are sometimes
"When you fast, do not look dismal, like
used to represent the devil.
the hypocrites, for they disfigure their
Ape, which is also a symbol of sin and
faces that their fasting may be seen of
men . . . But when you fast, anoint your
head and wash your face, that your fast- Blackbird, because of its black feathers

ing may not be seen by men but by your representing the darkness of sin, and its

Father who is in secret" (Matthew 6:16- melodious song, which reminds us of

18). the alluring temptations of the flesh.

Fox, renowned cunning and its

for its
Devil, Satan
ability to feign death to attract the un-
Because of his role as the tempter the wary.

Leopard, a symbol of sin and cruelty.

Lion, because of its pride and fierceness.

This is only one of several different sym-
bolic ideas about this beast. (See LION
in Easter section.) Sculptors have repre-
sented Christ as standing on a lion, after

the idea in Ps. 91:13, "You will tread on

the lionand the adder, the young lion
and the serpent you will trample under

Owl likes to hide in darkness. It tricks

other birds.

Raven, because of its blackness, some-

times represents sin.

which prepares
Spider, a trap for the un-
wary with its web.

Wolf prowls around sheepfolds and is an

enemy of the sheep.

In color the devil may be black since that

is the traditional appearance of demons;
or red because his home is in hell-fire; or
green because that is frequently seen in


The Lenten fast was suggested by

Jesus' fasting forty days in the wilder-
ness following his baptism. Fasting
(which is usually abstinence from food)
and other forms of abstinence are used at
this time as a sign of subduing the flesh
to the spirit and as a sign of penitence.

Holy Week

Holy Week, a subseason of Lent, begins on Palm Sunday (sixth Sunday in Lent) and
embraces the last seven days before Easter. The gospel story of Jesus' trial and suf-
ferings, which is usually read in churches on Palm Sunday, is called the Passion,
according to St. Matthew, St. Mark or St. Luke. The gospel Passion story includes, in
one gospel or another, the agony in Gethsemane, the betrayal and arrest, the hearings
before the High Priest and Herod, the trial under Pontius Pilate, the scourging and
mocking of Jesus by the soldiers, carrying the cross to Calvary, and the crucifixion and
death of Jesus.
The cross is often used as a seasonal symbol for Lent and for Holy Week.
Holy Week symbolism naturally centers on the Instruments of the Passion and on
persons and things mentioned in the gospel accounts of the Crucifixion. Again, as at
Christmas-Epiphany, legend has added much which is not explicit in the Bible ac-


Basin and Ewer (Pitcher) (Matthew 26:34). "Before the cock
crows" was a proverbial way of indicat-
The washing of
ing early in the morning.
hands with water
symbolizes inno-
cence. Pilate pub-
licly washed his Thirty silver coins was the price of the
hands after Jesus' betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot and
trial. "So when Pi- thus becomes one of the symbols of the

late saw that he was gaining nothing, Passion. Judas went to the chief priests
but rather that a riot was beginning, he "and said, 'What will you give me if I
took water and washed his hands before deliver him to you?' And they paid him
the crowd, saying, 'I am innocent of this thirty pieces of silver" (Matthew 26:15).

man's blood'" (Matthew 27:24). "When Judas, his betrayer, saw that he
was condemned, he repented and
Calvary (See GOLGOTHA) brought back the thirty pieces of silver to
the chief priests and the elders, saying, 'I

Centurion have sinned in betraying innocent

blood'" (Matthew 27:3-4). See also
This Roman army officer had charge of PURSE.
the soldiers who carried out the Crucifix-
ion. Some artists make him, a Gentile, Cross
stand for the Church on the basis of his
The Golden Legend has preserved the
words at Christ's death, "Truly this man
apocryphal story of the connection of the
was the Son of God!" (Mark 15:39 KJV).
To correspond with this symbolism of wood of the cross with the
the Church the same arhsts depicted the
Jewish man with the sponge of vinegar
of in the
of Eden. Briefly put,
the legend tells that a branch
as the Synagogue.
was planted on
of this tree
Adam's grave. Solomon had
it cut down to use in building the temple,
This symbol of Pe-
is a but it was found unsuitable. Instead it

ter's denial and so one was used for a time as a bridge across a
of the symbols of the brook. Later it was buried in the Pool of
Passion. After Peter had Bethesda. At the time of the Crucifixion
asserted his loyalty, it floated up and was used for the wood
"Jesus said to him, of the cross.
'Truly, I say to you, this The cross is a symbol of Christ because
very night, before the of his sacrifice on it. It is also a symbol of
cock crows, you will Christianity. Theologically it stands for
deny me three times'" salvation, redemption and atonement.

The Latin cross (four arms with the lower wounded side of Christ. The blood and
one twice as long) is the traditional form water which gushed out from the wound
used for the Crucifixion and the Atone- are symbols of the two chief sacraments.
ment. See also CROSS in the Feasts of Baptism and the Eucharist. The new
the Pentecost Season section. Eve, the Church, is sometimes shown
beside the wound receiving the blood
and water in her chalice.

Crown of Thorns 2. Symbolic fig-

ures which may be
The crown of thorns placed on Christ's seen in represen-
head by the soldiers in derision symbol- tations of the
izes the Passion and the Crucifixion. It Crucifixion are
stands for a royal diadem and the reed (explained indi-
stands for a king's scepter. "And plaiting vidually elsewhere
acrown of thorns they put it on his head, in this section):
and put a reed in his right hand. And CROWN OF
kneeling before him they mocked him, THORNS, I.N.R.I., SPEAR, SPONGE,
saying, 'Hail, King of the jews!'" SKULL AND BONES, SUN AND
(Matthew 27:29). In pictures Christ MOON, INSTRUMENTS OF THE PAS-
usually wears this crown of thorns until SION.
taken down from the cross. When used
3. Some of the following persons are
as a separate symbol it is often accompa-
often shown at the Cross: Two criminals
nied by the three nails.
on crosses, one on each side of Christ.
They were condemned to be crucified
with him (Matthew 27:38ff; Mark 15:27ff;
Crucifixion Scene Luke 23:39ff).
St. John, the beloved disciple (John
During the Middle Ages a great deal of
symbolism came into use in connection
The Roman centurion who said. "This
with the Crucifixion. Some of these are
man was a son of God." (Matthew
noted under this title.
27:54; Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47).
1. The new Eve and the Church. This sym- Some of the women who had followed
bolism is connected with the wound in Jesus from Galilee:
Christ's side made by the soldier (John The Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene,
19:34), and with the concept of Christ as Mary wife of Clopas (John 19:25).
the new or second Adam. Paul had writ- Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of
ten: "For as in Adam all die, so also in James, Salome (Mark 15:40).
Christ shall all be made alive" (I Corin- Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of
thians 15:22).As Eve came out of the side James, mother of sons of Zebedee
of Adam, so the Church came from the (James and John) (Matthew 27:56).

Cup Gall

The cup sometimes "They offered him wine to drink,

shown with Jesus while mingled with gall" (Matthew 27:34). Gall
he was praying in Geth- is a bitter liquid. Mark refers to myrrh at
semane is a symbol of this point. Jesus refused this drug which
the Agony in the Garden. would have acted as an opiate and
Usually it is held by an would have reduced the pain of the
angel. This cup is a figure crucifixion. He preferred to remain fully
of speech in the Gethsemane prayer: conscious and to bear his suffering with
"My Father, if it be possible, let this cup courage.
pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will,

but as thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39). This Gethsemane

cup is the cup of suffering. Jesus knew
that the supreme sacrifice on the cross The "Garden" Gethsemane was the

could not be far away. scene of the Agony in the Garden and
the Betrayal. Three disciples are often
Dandelion shown with Jesus in Gethsemane. They
are Peter, James and John. Insome
Early paintings of the Crucifixion
scenes they are shown asleep. "And he
sometimes show this bitter herb as a
came and found them
to the disciples
symbol of the passion.
sleeping. ."(Matthew 26:40). The term

Dice "agony" comes from Luke as does the

figure of an angel. "And there ap-
Two or three dice along with the seam- peared to him an angel from heaven,
less robe of Christ have become Passion
strengthening him. And being in an
symbols because the soldiers cast lots for
agony he prayed more earnestly; and his
his garments. "And they crucified him,
sweat became like great drops of blood
and divided his garments among them,
falling down upon the ground" (Luke
casting lots for them, to decide what
each should take" (Mark 15:24). A pre-
cedent was found in Psalms 22:18,
"they divide my garments among
them, Because of its fondness for eating this-
and for my raiment they cast lots." tlesand thorns, which are a reminder of
the crown of thorns, the goldfinch is a
Eagle Standard
symbol of the Passion.
A silver or bronze eagle on a standard
was symbol serving as an en-
a military
Golgotha or Calvary
sign of Roman legions. This is some-
times shown in pictures of various Pas- The name Golgotha is used in the

sion scenes. Gospels for the place of crucifixion out-

side the wall of Jerusalem. Hammer
I This Hebrew word means
Although not mentioned
^ I "I "skull." Calvary refers to
the use of a
in Scripture,
hammer for nailing Christ to
I 1 / thesame place, but is taken
^ ^^ from the Latin word for
the cross assumed. So it is symbolic of

the Crucifixion and is one of the instru-

skull. Some pictures of the Crucifixion
ments of the Passion.
show a skull for this reason and also
because a legend exists that this is where
I. N. R. I.
Adam was buried and the skull is his.

Ages some people main-

In the Middle This symbol placed on a board at the
tained that on this spot Adam was top of the cross stands for the initial let-

created out of the dust of the ground, ters of fourwords, "lesus

that here Mary received from the angel Nazarenus Rex ludaeorum" ("Jesus of
the annunciation of her bearing Jesus Nazareth King of the Jews"). "Pilate also
the Savior, that Adam was buried here wrote a title and put it on the cross; it
and that Jesus' blood flowed over read, 'Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the
Adam's bones. See SKULL AND Jews.'. and it was written in Hebrew,
. .

BONES. in Latin, and in Greek" Qohn 19:19-20).

This trilingual inscription signified for

Good Friday John the evangelist the universal mis-

sion of Christ. Originally in art the in-
The "good" part isan old expression scription, if used at all, was written out
for holy. Friday is the traditional day of in full. Italian artists in the thirteenth
the week not only for the Crucifixion but century cut this down to the familiar ab-
also for the creation of Adam, the fall of breviation. Since each of these letters is
Adam, the death of Abel, and the An- an initial of a word, it is proper to put a
nunciation. period after each.

Grapes and Wheat

A bunch of grapes and several ears of
wheat (sometimes with a chalice) make a
symbol of the Last Supper or of the Holy
Eucharist. The grape, wine of like the

communion, represents the Blood of

Christ, following his words at the Last
Supper, "This is my blood," which he
said when he gave them the cup. The
flour of wheat is a usual ingredient of
bread. Jesus said of the bread, "This is

my body."

Instruments of the Passion symbol of God's deliverance of his peo-
ple. The cross-bearing lamb stands for
A number of symbols are known by
Christ crucified. Sometimes blood flows
tradition as Instruments of the Passion.
from the lamb's breast into a chalice in
They will rarely all be found in one piece
imitation of the wound in Christ's side
of art, but several of them will usually be
from which flowed blood and water.
seen in the various representations of
John 19:34-36 refers to this and quotes
Jesus on the cross. See items: BASIN
from Exodus 12:46 which is about the
TIST in Christmas section.
SPEAR, SPONGE. Lanterns and Torches

These are emblems of

Joseph of Arimathea
the Betrayal and the Pas-
Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin sion, referring to the arrest
and a secret disciple of Jesus, asked Pi- of Jesusby night in
late for the body and took care of the Gethsemane. "So Judas,
Burial of Jesus. He is usually shown in procuring a band of sol-
scenes of the Deposition and the En- diers and some officers
tombment (see Mark 15: 42-47.) from the chief priests and
the Pharisees,went there with lanterns
Ladder and torches and weapons" Qohn 18:3).

This unscriptural symbol be-

longs with the Instruments of Man of Sorrows
the Passion. In scenes of the De-
This term for Christ, which used to
scent from the Cross it fre-
describe the Christ of the Passion show-
quently appears. Joseph of
ing his five wounds, comes from Isaiah
Arimathea or Nicodemus may
be shown climbing the ladder to
"He was despised and rejected by men;
remove the nails.
a man of sorrows, and acquainted
with grief."
The whole chapter is frequently read in
The title "Lamb of God" (lamb pro- Good Friday church services as a predic-
vided by God) was given Jesus by John tion of the Passion.
the Baptist Qohn 1:29,36). The symbol-
ism goes back lamb
to Isaiah 53:7, "Like a
that is led to the slaughter," where the
Maundy Thursday
lamb is a type of vicarious suffering. The The Church remembers the institution
Paschal lamb eaten at Passover was a of the Lord's Supper on this day.

"Maundy" is derived from the in the wilderness: I am like an owl of the
Latin mandatum, or command- desert" (King James Version).
ment, which isfound as the first
Palm Branches
word in Latin of John 13:34, "A
new commandment I give you, "Branches of palm
that you love one another." This symbols
trees" are used as
verse is an antiphon from the ceremony of the Triumphal Entry
of foot- washing done on this day in im- into Jerusalem on Palm
itation of Jesus washing the feet of his Sunday, following the ac-
disciples just before the Last Supper (see count in John 12:12-14. The
John 13:1-15). palm is a symbol of victory.
The Jews used palm and
v^low branches in observing the Feast
The use of nails in crucifying Christ is of Booths or Tabernacles (see Leviticus
based on the request of Thomas after the 23:40).
Resurrection to see the
print of the nails in
Jesus' hands (John This Jewish spring festival is the time
20:25). Three nails are a when Jesus Christ ate the Last Supper
symbol of the Passion with his disciples and the next morning
(often shown with the was crucified. The first three Gospels
crown of thorns). Early leave the impression that the Last Sup-
crucifixes placed the feet side by side and per was also the Passover meal, but
used four nails, but by the thirteenth John's Gospel places the Supper on the
century the number was reduced to Day of Preparation (Jewish days began at
three, one nail sufficing for both feet. sundown) and makes the Crucifixion
and Christ's death occur at the time
Nicodemus when the paschal lambs were being sac-
Mentioned only in the Gospel of John, rificed.

Nicodemus, who like Joseph of The Passover was a

Arimathea was a member of the Sanhed- memorial of the de-
rin, brought myrrh and aloes for the Bur- liverance of the He-
ial of Jesus and assisted in placing the brew people from
body in the tomb. He is frequently slavery in Egypt. The
shown in scenes of the Entombment. blood of the lamb
which was killed for
the original Passover
In the scenes of the Crucifixion the owl was put on the lintels and posts of the
symbolizes darkness and solitude as an doors of houses where the people of Is-

attribute of Christ. The allusion is to a rael dwelt. This served as a signal to the
verse in Psalm 102:6, "I am like a pelican "destroyer" to pass over these homes on


his eig-and to slay the first-born of the Redeemer

Egyptians. The full story is recounted in
While this word does not occur in the
Exodus 12.
New Testament and is an Old Testament
The word "paschal" comes from the
term, it is neverthe-
Hebrew name of Passover, Pesach.
less often applied to
Pelican Jesus Christ in con-
nection with his
A legend popular with early Christian
death on the Cross.
writers is responsible for finding in this
In Isaiah 41:14 the
bird an emblem of self-sacrifice. Accord-
Lord says, "Your Re-
ing to the story the pelican saves the life
deemer is the Holy
of itsyoung by stabbing its breast with its
beak and sprinkhng them with its own
One of Israel." God is here the liberator
of his people. The redeemer buys the
blood. One version tells that the young
freedom of a slave by paying his ransom
are killed by a serpent and restored to life
and this idea of redemption is one that is
after three days. Thus this bird symbol-
found in the New Testament. Jesus said,
izes Christ's sacrifice on the Cross and
"For the son of man also came not to be
the shedding of his blood for the love of
served but to serve, and to give his life as
a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).
Psalm 102:6 reads in the Septuagint
and in the King James Version, "I am like Reed
a pelican of the wilderness: 1 am like an
On the cross Christ was offered a
owl of the desert." This was accepted as
sponge filled with vinegar on the end of
an allusion to Christ in the loneliness of
a reed (Matthew 27:48 and a reference to
his Passion.
Psalm 69:21). This is one of the symbols
Pillar of the Passion. See GALL, SPONGE.
The pillar was a necessary adjunct to
Robe of Christ

the scourging of Jesus and therefore is an Scarlet or purple robe. This robe was put
emblem of the Passion. Cords used in on Jesus by the soldiers while they were
the scourging or in tying Jesus to the mocking him as King of the Jews and is
column are also shown sometimes. one of the symbols of the Passion. (See
Matthew 27:27-31, Mark 15: 16-20).
The Seamless robe is

The purse of another symbol of

Judas, a symbol of the Passion. In some
the Betrayal, is versions it is called a
sometimes shown coat, in others a
with the thirty tunic. ". . . But his
silver pieces paid tunic was without
by the chief priests to Judas. See COINS seam, woven from

top to bottom; so they said to one an- tails. It was a Roman custom to scourge a
other 'Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it prisoner before crucifying him.
to see whose it shall be' " (John 19:23-24).
A serpent shown at the foot of the
The rope was used by the soldiers to
cross signifies the evil responsible for the
bind Jesus when he was betrayed by
Fall of Man and now overcome by the
Judas in Gethsemane (John 18:12) and
Death of Christ, the Redeemer. A ser-
again in the morning "they bound him
pent entwined on a cross stands for
and led him away and delivered him to
Christ and his Crucifixion in the sense of
Pilate the governor" (Matthew 27:2).
John 3:14, "As Moses up the ser-

Saint John pent in the wilderness, so must the son

of man be lifted up."
Crucifixion scenes may show a man
and a woman standing on either side of
Skull and Bones
the cross. Jesus' mother has the place of
honor on his right, while St.
John stands In Crucifixion scenes the skull at the
at Jesus' left side. The Gospel of John foot of the Cross, plus some bones, re-
tellsus (19:26-27): "When Jesus saw fers to the name of the hill, Golgotha,
his mother, and the disciple whom he which means "the place of a skull," and
loved standing near, he said to his the legend that this was also the burial
mother, 'Woman behold your son!' Then place of Adam. Christ, the second
he said to the disciple, 'Behold your Adam, redeems men who are handi-
mother!'" capped by the Fall of the first Adam. See
Scorpion GOLGOTHA.
The scorpion is a type of spider having
a long tail with a poisonous sting. As
such it is a symbol of evil and treachery The spear or lance used to pierce the
and so of Judas. It may be shown on side of Christ while he was on the cross
shields or flags of the soldiers at the (John 19:34) is one of the Instruments of
Crucifixion. the Passion. It is often shown with the
sponge on a reed.

This is one of the

symbols of the Pas-
sion. It represents the "And one of them at once ran and took
scourging of Jesus by a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it
order of Pilate. A on a reed, and gave it to him to drink"
scourge is a kind of a (Matt. 27:48). This is another Instrument
whip with several of the Passion. See GALL, REED.

S. p. Q. R. you; in toil you shall eat of it all the
days of your life; thorns and thistles it
These initials inscribed on the military
shall bring forth to you ..." (Genesis
standards of Rome sometimes appear in
Crucifixion scenes.The Latin Senatus
Populusque Romanus means "the Senate
Torch (See LANTERNS)
and People of Rome," an official title of
the Roman state.
Virgin Mary
Sun and Moon The fourth Gospel alone mentions the
presence of Jesus' mother at the Crucifix-
The sun, shining or darkened, and
sometimes the moon are shown at the ion (John 19:25-26), but she is often de-

Crucifixion to sym- picted as standing on her son's right at

bolize the sympathy

the cross. During the Middle Ages she
of nature with the was sometimes made in this scene a

sufferings of the symbol of the new Eve (corresponding to

The dark-
Jesus Christ the new Adam) or else the

ened sun is from Church contrasted with the superseded

Luke 23:44-45, "It Synagogue on the left. See CRUCIFIX-
was now about the ION SCENE.
sixth hour [noon], and there was dark-
ness over the whole land until the ninth
Winding Sheet
hour, while the sun's light failed [or, the Jews were often
sun was echpsed] ..." Jesus had pre- buried in a burial
dicted, "the sun will be darkened, and cloth winding
the moon will not give its light" sheet which was
(Matthew 24:29). This is an ancient wrapped around the
pagan death symbol. body before it was
laid in tomb.
These are the "hnen
The thistle as a thorny plant and a cloths" of John 20:4.
symbol of sorrow is a symbol of the Pas- This sheet may be
sion and in particular the crowning with shown in scenes of Jesus' Burial; in some
thorns. The original symbolism comes instances the sheet draped over the

from the Fall of Adam: arms of the cross as a symbol of the

"... cursed is the ground because of burial.

Easter Ascension
Eastertide includes the whole period of fifty days starting with Easter Day and
concluding on Pentecost. So it commemorates the Resurrection, the Ascension and the
descent of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles' Creed says, "On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father." Acts gives the
impression that the Ascension may have occurred "forty days" after the Resurrection.
From the tomb Jesus Christ, "the Kingfof Glory," proceeded to his eternal throne where
he reigns as King of the Kingdom of God. Traditional thought places the kingly crown
on his head, replacing the crown of thorns, at this time. It is also a crown of his victory
over death. Hence the crown of the King makes an appropriate symbol for this whole
The depicting of the risen Christ may be made more explicit by one or more of these
attributes: a white or golden garment, the banner of the Resurrection (appropriate from
his rising until his Ascension), the five wounds, a radiance around him. A crucifix on
which Christ is shown clad in eucharistic vestments represents the Reigning Christ or
Christ the King.

Angel of the Resurrection staff. As the souls in limbo greet him,
Adam is shown as the first man to
The angel or two angels at the empty
emerge. This legend is called the Har-
tomb are mentioned by all four Gospels
rowing of Hell ("harrow" in the sense of
and are always described as dressed in
"rob"). Its literary antecedent is the
white. True to their intended function
apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus.
they are messengers from God to men
(or in this case to women). The white
garments are appropriate to the joy of
Christ's Resurrection. The use of crowns to denote sover-
eignty and kingship, or in other cases as
Banner with Cross wreaths to denote victory,

The Lamb of God carrying this banner

|. A J is very ancient. The idea
that Jesus Christ received
and Christ rising from the grave bearing I ^,_-_I!lj
his crown of victory when
such a banner are exhibiting a symbol of
he ascended has made such a symbol

victory the victory over death won by
appropriate for both Easter and Ascen-
sion.The faithful believer will receive
the crown of life at death (Revelation
Because the caterpil-
lar goes into a cocoon Daniel and Two Lions
(tomb) where itseem-
The scene of Daniel standing between
ingly dies only to
two lions appears often on Christian sar-
emerge as a butterfly,
cophagi and in the catacombs from the
this insect has become a
earliest days. As Daniel was delivered
symbol of Christ's Resurrection and the
from being destroyed by the lions
resurrection of all men.
(Daniel 6:16-23) so will the Christian be

Christ in Limbo (Hell) granted deliverance by God in the life to

An old Christian belief reflected in the
Apostles' Creed is that in the time be-
tween hisDeath and his Resurrection
Christ descended into limbo, the outer With pagans the dolphin had become
circle of hell reserved for souls who had a popular symbol of salvation and im-
died previous to Christ's coming on mortality before Christians took it over
earth. Paintings of this scene show for use in the Catacombs. Sometimes
Christ arriving at the gate to the under- used as the fish which swallowed Jonah
world and carrying the symbol of his and cast him forth on the third day, the
victory over death which is a banner in- dolphin easily became symbolic of the
scribed with a cross and attached to a Resurrection of Christ. See JONAH.

Eagle Easter Lily
The eagle is one of the four living crea- Being a spring flower the
tures around the throne of God men- Easter lily is a common
tioned in Revelation 4:7, "the first living symbol of the Resurrec-
creature like a lion, the second living tion. Another reason for
creature like an ox, the third living crea- this symbolism is the
ture with the face of a man, and the sprouting of a beautiful flower from a
fourth living creature like a flying eagle." seemingly dead bulb which is buried in
As early as the second century in addi- the ground.
tion to being assigned to the four
Evangelists, the living creatures were
made symbolic of four events in the life

of Christ: the Nativity (man), his sacrifi- The egg became a

cialDeath (ox), the Resurrection (lion), symbol of the Resur-
and the Ascension which is represented rection and of Easter
by the flying eagle. See also LION in this because the chick en-
section. closed in the shell
(like a tomb) breaks
forth to life. The fer-
Bede gives the origin of this English
tilizedegg looks dead but contains the
name for the festival of Christ's Resur-
promise of life. Colored eggs represent
rection. He derives the word from the
the gay hues of an Easter sunrise.
name of a pagan goddess called Eostre
(another spelling of Eastre) whose festi-
Empty Tomb
val came at the spring equinox. Some
other modern languages derive their The actual rising of Christ from the
name for Easter from the Latin pascha, in tomb is not described in the Gospels and
turn taken from the Hebrew pesach or for many years was not pictured in art.
Passover. This acknowledges that the The tomb with the stone rolled away, or
Christian feast is a successor to the a sarcophagus (stone coffin) with cover
Jewish Passover. The Sunday on which pushed aside is a symbol of Christ's Res-
Easter falls each year is determined by urrection. The sarcophagus type of tomb
when the full moon on or next after is, of course, unscriptural. The movable

March 21 occurs. The Sunday following stone of the tomb gave the Church Fa-
this full moon is appointed as Easter. thers a chance for further symbolism.
This system relates the Resurrection an- They said that it was the table of stone on
niversary to the Passover, which was the which was written the Hebrew Law.
time of the original Passion of Christ. Christ was hidden beneath that stone.
The date of Easter each year settles the When he rose from the dead the Law no
date for Ash Wednesday and Lent, and longer had any meaning for his fol-
the length of the season after Pentecost. lowers.

Gate of Heaven, Gate of Hell nights in the belly of the whale, so will

Heaven was sometimes conceived of

the Son of man be three days and three
nights in the heart of the earth"
as a Garden of Paradise. It was entered
(Matthew 12:40). In some cases Jonah is
through a gate by Christ at his Resurrec-
shown diving into the sea, or, more ac-
tion and Ascension.
cording to the Bible, being thrown over-
According to the Apostles' Creed
board. But in other cases the "resurrec-
Christ descended into hell before rising
tion" of Jonah appears as he is cast forth
to heaven. This is based on I Peter 3:19,
by the whale.
"he went and preached to the spirits in
prison." Representations of Christ's De-
The final
scene in the
scent into Hell show him breaking
story Oonah 4:6)
through the gate of hell and trampling
the fragments with his feet. See CHRIST
shows the
prophet reclin-
ing under an arbor of ivy or under a
gourd plant. Jerome, perhaps bending to
Gourd (See JONAH)
an artistic tradition, translated the plant
as "ivy." Augustine preferred the more
Hare, Rabbit
correct word "gourd." (Bible scholars
The "Easter bunny" is not a true guess it was a castor oil plant.) The artists
Christian symbol. The hare or rabbit is a indicate that Jonah was enjoying ever-
symbol of fertility and therefore of life lasting bliss (omitting the worm and the
predominant over death. withering of 4:7).

The early artists usually represented

Ivy the "great fish" as a sea monster or a
Because of its lasting greenness, ivy
serves as a symbol of immortality and Lamb with Banner
eternal life.
The standing lamb bearing the cross-
emblazoned banner of victory signifies
the Resurrection.
Two incidents in the story of Jonah Representing
have been connected with the Resurrec- Jesus the Son of
tion since the time of the Roman God, the Iamb has
catacombs: Jonah and the whale, and a three-rayed
Jonah under the gourd. nimbus around his
Jonah 1:17 says that "The Lord ap- head. The banner
pointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah; is a swallow-tailed
and Jonah was in the belly of the fish pennon and the staff has a cross top.
three days and three nights." Jesus said, "At the Lamb's high feast we sing," an
"For as Jonah was three days and three Easter hymn (originally in the Latin

Breviary) emphasizes the origin of this to be slain and eaten by the Jews at
symbol in the paschal lamb. Two lines in Passover (Exodus 12:1-13). Jesus Christ,
the original English version read: who died at Passover, is often called the
"Now thy banner thou dost wave; Paschal Lamb, or Paschal victim. The
Vanquished Satan and the grave." Easter Latin hymn "Victimae paschali
laudes, translated as "Christians to the
Paschal victim. Offer your thankful
This very old symbol is associated praises," makes use of this symbol.
with many different ideas, but one of the From this hymn in the Middle Ages the
chief of them is the Resurrection. Greg- first liturgical dramas were developed
ory the Great (about 600 A.D.) is respon- for use at Easter. Thus the' "Victimae
sible for taking over the fabulous natural paschali" is the origin of the modern
history of the lion current in his day and Easter story-play.
associating it with Christ's Resurrection.
Two actions of the lion were impressive. Paschal Candle
Popularly he was supposed to sleep with
In ancient usage this Easter
his eyes open: "Behold, he who keeps
ly candle was on Easter Eve and
Israel will neither slumber nor sleep"
burned at services until Ascen-
(Psalm 121:4). Furthermore it was re-
sion Day. With the revision of
ported that lion cubs were born dead and
the church calendar, it is now
after threedays their father breathed or
customary that the paschal can-
roared over them and they came to life.
dle burn at all services through
Also the power of the Hon is impres-
the Day of Pentecost, which is the new
sive. Said Gregory: "He himself is ... a
termination of the Easter season. The
lion because by the strength of his
paschal candlestick stands at the gospel
Godhead he burst the band of the death
side of the altar. This candle symbolizes
he had undergone." This is included in a
Christ the Light who has overcome the
passage likening Christ to the four living
darkness of the world.
creatures of Ezekiel. For another sym-
bolic use of the lion, read the article on
EAGLE in this section.
This symbol of immortality was taken
Pasch, Paschal over from the Romans by the early Chris-
Derived from the Latin and Greek tians.According to a medieval bestiary
Pascha which in turn comes from the the peacock's "flesh is so hard that it is
Hebrew Pesach, these words referred scarcely subject to putrefaction." St.
originally to the Passover, but were Augustine (in his City of God ) remarked,
taken over by Christians to designate "Who except God, the Creator of all

Easter which first occurred in connection things, endowed the flesh of the dead
with the Passover. The Paschal lamb was peacock with the power of never decay-
the lamb without blemish commanded ing?"

Phoenix the corpse a worm emerges and grows
into a new phoenix.
A mythical bird of reddish-purple
color (from phoeniceus or "purple") pro- Pomegranate
vided the early Christians with a very This fruit (the name means "apple
popular symbol to be used on burial having many seeds") is native to the
stones and in writing as a sign of the Bible lands and is mentioned several
Resurrection. Briefly put, the legend times in the Old Testament. The fruit
tells of a hundred
bird that lives for five was used as a sacred symbol in ancient
years, builds a nest for a funeral pyre and times. Because of its many seeds the
burns itself to death. Then it rises from pomegranate became an emblem of fer-
its own ashes and starts a new life. tility and life. When it is used as a symbol

Herodotus, the Greek historian, got of immortality and resurrection, it is

the story from Egypt where they said shown bursting open to expose the
that the bird came from Arabia and sacri- seeds. Thus it is a renunder of Christ
ficed itself on the altar of the sun. Pliny, a bursting open his tomb.
Roman writer, tells the story too. Chris- The pomegranate was used as a sym-
tian writers took it over, the first known bol in ancient pagan religions. It is con-
todo so being Clement of Rome about 98 nected with Demeter (Ceres) and with
A.D. He gives the legend in his Letter to her daughter Persephone (Proserpine).
the Corinthians and makes it an example For her story see POMEGRANATE in

of the Creator of the universe bringing the Christmas section.

about the resurrection of the faithful.
Later the phoenix signified the Resurrec- People used to
tion of Christ. be puzzled as to
There are two versions of the legend. what happened to
One explains that the phoenix flies to the the summer swal-
altar of the sun at Heliopolis and burns low in winter. Ac-
itself to ashes. tually it migrates
From the ashes a to lands near the
little worm sur- equator, but it was
vives, next day thought that the
changes to a bird, birds hibernated in
and on the third the mud and came out again in spring as
day flies away to if reborn. This led to the use of this bird
Arabia. The other as a symbol of resurrection. It is also a
version tells that the bird builds a nest bird which, among others such as the
("coffin," the ancient accounts read) of dove and eagle, was regarded by the an-
spices. This on fire by the heat of
is set cients as carrying the soul to heaven.
the sun. The phoenix remains there, See also INCARNATION in the
fanning the flames with its wings. From Christmas-Epiphany section.


The Christian Festival of Pentecost is based on the incident recounted in Acts 2 when
the Holy Spirit cafne upon the Christian disciples gathered in a house at Jerusalem
seven weeks after Easter. The appearance was made known by a sound "like the rush
of a mighty wind" and by a light in the form of tongues "as of fire, distributed and
resting on each of them" (Acts 2:1-3). The Jewish Pentecost which the disciples were
celebrating at the time was the Feast of Weeks, a thanksgiving for the first fruits of the
wheat harvest (Exodus 34:22). Later Christians in their worship for this week also
remembered, by reading Numbers 11:24-30, the incident of the Spirit resting upon the
seventy elders of Israel when they were in the wilderness with Moses.
Symbols appropriate to Pentecost are those indicating the appearance of God and his
Holy Spirit. Chief among these is the dove. Red is the liturgical color used for the Day of
Pentecost and it symbolizes the' flames of fire seen at the time of the descent of the Holy
Spirit on the disciples in Jerusalem.

Counselor (Comforter) harvest. Later it became a commemora-
"Counselor" is the term used of the
tion of the giving of the Law (Ten Com-
mandments) at Mt. Sinai.
Holy Spirit by Jesus in the Gospel of
John (John 14:16, 16:7), meaning one
Seven Doves
called to stand by one's side in adversity.
In the King James Bible the same Greek Seven doves arranged around a circle
word, Parakletos, is translated as Com- symbolize the seven gifts of the Spirit as

forter (in the Latin sense of listed in Isaiah 11:2 wisdom, under-
"Strengthener"). The Holy Spirit came standing, counsel, might, knowledge,
at Pentecost to help and advise the disci- fear of the
Lord plus piety, a seventh
ples. gift added by the Septuagint version.

Within the circle are sometimes found

Dove the two capital letters SS, abbreviations
(or Sanctus Spiritus, Latin for Holy Spirit.
The usual symbol
of the Holy Spirit is Tongues of Flame
the dove descending,
always with the This symbol of the Holy
three-rayed nimbus Spirit at Pentecost may be in

which indicates di- the form of separate flames

vinity. In a more gen- on the head of each disciple or

eral sense the dove an overall arrangement of
indicates the power of God at work in seven tongues together. Fire

men. is an ancient symbol of the

divine appearance. God appeared to

Paraclete Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:2)

and again in the fire and smoke on Mt.
This is the English form of the Greek Sinai (Exodus 19:18).
title Parakletos or Counselor, referring to
the Holy Spirit. Whitsunday
Whitsunday is another name for the
Christian festival of Pentecost. This title

The word "Pentecost," used for both is generally considered to be a rendering

the Jewish and the Christian festival of "White Sunday" from its connection
(formerly Christian Whitsunday), with the white robes worn by the newly
means "fiftieth (day)" from the baptized at this time. In medieval days
Passover. Counting the Sundays at each when baptism was often done by im-
end of seven weeks, it is the fiftieth day mersion Pentecost became a popular
from Easter. The Jewish festival was time for baptism in northern Europe,
originally known as the Feast of Weeks where the weather might still be cold at
and honored the beginning of the wheat Easter.

Feasts of the Pentecost Season

The season immediately following Pentecost comprises 24 to 29 Sundays, the

number depending on the date of Easter. The First Sunday after Pentecost is always
Trinity Sunday. The whole six-month period of June through November is a time of
growing and harvesting crops. Green, its liturgical color, thus represents the growth
and luxuriance in nature which is characterishc of this season in northern climates.
For several centuries the Sundays in this period were termed Sundays after Trinity in
Anglican and Episcopal churches, but the Roman Catholic Church has always retained
the Sundays after Pentecost designation. The American Episcopal Church in its new
Prayer Book has reverted to the original nomenclature.
Symbols which can appropriately be used in this season belong mostly to the several
special days and the arrangement here accordingly has reference to these days as they
come in the calendar.


Trinity Sunday, the Sunday after the Trinity. Usually it has rays emanat-
Pentecost ing from each of the three sides of the
triangle. A possible source of this idea is
Christian theology interprets the
the verse in Proverbs 15:3,
Christian God as being revealed to man
"The eyes Lord are in every
of the
in three "persons" or forms: Father,
place keeping watch on the evil and on
Son, and Holy Spirit. Trinity Sunday
the good."
honors this doctrine.
Since God is one

God and not three
gods some of the Although more frequently used as a
Trinitysymbols em- symbol of the Virgin Mary, the fleur-de-
phasize this, but lis, because of its trident appearance, is
some painters years ago delighted in also a symbol of the Trinity. Sometimes
showing the Trinity as three persons in it is used as the terminus of the arms of

the forms of an old man (the Father) the cross. The fleur-de-lis is a heraldic
above all,Son Jesus (usually on the
the device representing an iris or lily.
cross) below him, and a dove to indicate
the Spirit. A few pictures of the An-
Holy, Holy, Holy
nunciation to the Virgin show the Father The word "holy" repeated three times
seated in heaven and the dove on the stands for the Holy Trinity. The
way down to Mary. threefold holy is used in hymns and is
A common symbol for Trinity Sunday often employed as a symbol on altars.
is the equilateral triangle. In this section The Christian use of this symbol comes
Part I will be devoted symbols of God
to from Revelation 4:8,
as the Trinity, and Parts II, III, and IV to "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God
the different persons of the Trinity. Almighty, who was and is and is to
I. THE TRINITY This is the song of the four living crea-

Clover or Shamrock tures around the throne of God (see

EAGLE in the Easter section). But ulti-
The three-leaved clover (three leaves mately the source of the three holies is
on one stem) makes a good Trinity sym- Isaiah 6:3, where the seraphim repeat
bol. Legend says that when St. Patrick "holy" three times for emphasis.
was preaching to pagans in Ireland he
picked up a shamrock as an illustration Shield of the Holy Trinity
of the Trinity.
This is a triangular diagram, with
words originally in Latin, but also seen
in modern versions with English words.
The all-seeing eye of God displayed In the middle is a circle enclosing the
within a triangle is properly a symbol of word Deus or God. At the two top cor-

his raiment was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure
his throne was fiery flames,
its wheels were burning fire."
(Dan. 7:9)

The "ancient of days" is an expression

for the ancient one who has existed a
great many years. The whiteness of his
hair and his garment refers to the purity
of God and the brightness of the realm of
light. The throne is a judgment seat on a

chariot. In biblical symbolism, fire and

ners are two other circles enclosing the
word flame often accompany the appearance
Pater (Father)and the word Filius
of God.
(Son). At the bottom angle is another
circle with the words Spiritus Sanctus A fine hymn employing this figure is

(Holy Spirit). Connecting the center cir- W.C. Doane's "Ancient of Days, who
cle with the others is a band inscribed est sittestthroned in glory." Other verses
(is). The three outer circles are connected refer to Father, Son, Holy Ghost and
with each other by bands inscribed non Triune God.
est (is not). The shield may be read, "The

Father is God," "The Father is not the

Son," and so on around.
Hand of God
Triangles and Three-Fold Figures
This is the oldest
The equilateral triangles alone or with symbol of God the
a circle, the trefoil, the triquetra, three Father. found in
It is

interwoven circles, three fishes in a tri- scenes of the Baptism

angle and other unified groupings of of Christ where the
three are obvious symbols for the Trin- hand of the Father
ity. reaches down from a
cloud in blessing over
II. GOD THE FATHER the Son. In some
cases two hands ap-
Ancient of Days
pear. By this symbol the power of God is
This phrase comes from the book of emphasized. Usually the hand is accom-
Daniel. "As I looked, panied by rays of light which are some-
thrones were placed times in the form of a three-rayed nim-
and one that was ancient of days bus. See HAND in the Christmas-
took his seat; Epiphany section.

III. GOD THE SON, JESUS Baptist are "Behold, the Lamb of God,
CHRIST (Latin Agnus Dei) who takes away the sin
Cross of the world!"

Because of his sacrificial Rock

death on the cross, this is
St. Paul wrote, "the Rock was Christ."
the perfect symbol of
(I Corinthians 10:4) He was referring to
^^ Christ. It occurs in many
the rock which Moses struck in the wil-
different forms. The Latin
derness to obtain water for the Israelites.
cross, which is the form
(Numbers 20:11) St. Paul cites here a
most often seen, symbol-
Jewish legend that this rock followed the
izes in addition the Passion
Israelites in their travels. He implies that
of Christ. See CROSS in
Christ pre-existed and cared for his peo-
Holy Week section.
ple even before the Incarnation. Rocks in
Cross and Serpent paintings can remind us of the Divine
"As Moses up the serpent in the

wilderness, so must the son of man be Unicorn

lifted up" (John 3:14). This verse to-
Because of the legend about the uni-
gether with the bronze serpent of Moses corn's capture by a virgin and because
(Numbers 21:9) has led to the use of the he is hunted and slain by men, a medi-
cross with a serpent around it as a sym-
eval allegory made the unicorn a symbol
bol of Christ and the Crucifixion. See of Christ. A Bible verse used in this con-
also TAU CROSS in Advent section.
nection is Luke 1:69, "God has raised up

Fish. a horn of salvation for us in the house of

his servant David." In Bible times the
Early Chris- horn was symbolic of strength. The
tians frequently
"horn of salvation" means a mighty
used the fish savior.
as a symbol Attributes of Christ used in art include
of Christ. The globe with a cross (his sovereignty); the
Greek word for five wounds of the Crucifix-
fish (ICHTHUS ion; Greek letters such as
in Roman letters) has which
five letters alpha and omega (first and
are the initials of the Greek words mean- last), XP (chi and rho first
ing "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior." two letters of "Christ"), IHS
("Jesus"); a book, possibly
with inscriptions. Three of
This symbol for Christ was often used the inscriptions are: "Ego
in the Roman catacombs. comes from
It sum lux mundi" (I am the
John 1:29, where the words of John the light of the world, John 8:12), "Ego sum

resurrectio" (I am the resurrection, John cording to legend this bird was sup-
11:25, "Pax vobis" (Peace be with you, posed to renew its youth by flying near
John 20:19,26). the sun and then plunging into water.
More common symbolic uses of the
IV. HOLY SPIRIT (HOLY GHOST) EAGLE are found in the Easter section.
(See also under Pentecost.)

Dove Fire or Flames

The most common symbol of the Spirit This symbol of the Spirit comes from
istaken from the account of Jesus' Bap- the account of the first Christian Pente-

tism: a white dove with the three-rayed cost when tongues of fire descended on
nimbus. the disciples (Acts 2:3).

Eagle Sanctifier of the Faithful

In rare instances the eagle does duty as This phrase, descriptive of part of the
a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Irenaeus, in work of the Spirit, is found at the begin-
writing about the four hving creatures, ning of the Great Litany of the Book of
likens the eagle to "the Spirit hovering Common Prayer. "Sanctify" comes from
with his wings over the Church." The a Latin word meaning to make holy.
eagle is depicted on some old fonts. In "Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire"
some cases this may be intended to show is the translation of an old Latin hymn.
that the eagle like the Spirit renews the In symbolic language it tells of the gifts of
life of the baptised Christian, just as ac- the Spirit.

The Transfiguration, August 6

This festival commemorates the event light and the cloud signify God's pres-
chronicled in the first three gospels ence.
(Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-
Artists generally have pictured the
36), when Jesus took three chosen disci-
mountain in a symbolic way as a low
ples, Peter, James and John, to a moun-
mound upholding Jesus, Elijah and
tain top to pray. As thewatched on
Moses, while the three disciples appear
the mountain Jesus' face became radiant
below in the foreground. Three taber-
with a supernatural light, and Moses
nacles (tents) serve as a symbol for the
and seemed to be talking with
event. Another symbol used consists of a
him. Peter wanted to put up three
crown enclosed in rays of glory represent-
tentlike shelters (tabernacles or booths)
ing Christ the King of Glory.
for them. Overcome with awe, the disci-
ples heard a divine voice coming out of a A very appropriate symbol found in
cloud, "This is my beloved Son; listen to Raphael's painting of the Transfigura-
him" (Mark 9:7). tion is a cloud of light surrounding
The prophet Elijah, who was expected Christ. This can be depicted by the use of
to reappear just before the Messiah, is a the figure of Christ or a cross to represent
messianic symbol, while Moses stands him with an aureole around the figure. An
for the Jewish Law given to him in the aureole is a field of radiance and light
form of the Ten Commandments on enclosing a body. It is a symbol of divin-
Mount Sinai (Exodus 31:18). The radiant ity.

Holy Cross Day, September 14 All Saints, November 1

Another name for this day is the Exal- All Saints' Day is one of the major
tation of the Holy Cross. In legend the festivals of the year. The word "saint" in
day is irrevocably connected with St. this designation is used in the scriptural
Helena, the mother of the Roman Em- sense of anyone who is a faithful be-
peror Constantine. She is said to have liever. So this feast serves as a commem-
found the wood of the true cross at Gol- oration of all God's "servants departed
gotha in the early fourth century. Con- this life in thy faith and fear."
stantine erected a Church of the Holy A combination symbol of the cross and
Sepulcher at the spot and it was conse- crown serves well for this day since it is a
crated on September 13, 335. sign of the Christian's victory at death.
Crosses of various kinds seem appro- In Revelation 2:10 John says, "Be faithful
priate to this day. The principal types of unto death, and I will give
crosses are the tau you the crown of life." An-
cross, with three other symbol of victory
branches, the Lat- and triumph, which occurs
in cross with in the catacombs, is the
four parts of which palm The palm leaves

the lower element were sometimes combined

or staff is about with the monogram. Again
twice as long as the others, and the we turn to Revelation (7:9) for this sym-
Greek cross with four equal branches. bol: "Behold, a great multitude . . .

There are many variations of these el- standing before the Lamb, clothed in
emental forms. One often seen is a Latin white robes, with palm branches in their
cross with a circle around the crossing, hands." Still another figure for this day
called the Celtic cross. A cross with the is the hand of God pointing downward
clothed figure of Christ the King is also with thumb and two fingers extended,
appropriate. See CROSS in the Holy surrounded by rays. This reminds us
Week section. that "the souls of the righteous are in the
hand God, and no torment will ever
touch them." (Wisdom of Solomon 3:1).


Games With Symbols

For individuals or teams several games may be based on symbols.

(1) Identifying and explaining symbols. For this use either drawings of symbols or a word
(such as "crown") spoken or written. The object is to tell in what connection the symbol
usually appears and briefly what it means.
(2) Picking symbols out of a picture. How many can you identify and list in a particular
(3) Bible verses. Make a list of Bible verses relating to a certain group of symbols and see
how many symbols can be identified by reading the verses. Many suitable verses are
given in this book.
(4) which has a considerable number of symbols in stained
Treasure hunt. Visit a church
glass, carvings, or decoration and see how many can be found. Alternatively, a leader
may give a list of symbols known to be found there and see who can find them all first.
Similar games might be based on a certain room in a museum.

Making Seasonal Scenes

Symbolic scenes or posters may be de- season): Hand of God overhead, dove
sired for decorative purposes or bulletin flying down, fish or dolphin with wavy
covers. In addition to individual symbols lines below. Some Sundays-after-
the following may be suggestive. Epiphany subjects which may be used
singly or combined for the season:
Advent Baptism of Christ: A scallop shell with
three drops of water below (representing
The Advent wreath with candles or a
the Trinity formula of Holy Baptism).
corona (crown-shaped) candle holder
with candles makes an appropriate
Call of Disciples: A boat with one mast,
fisherman in it (as Christ), fish alongside
scene to illustrate the season. More elab-
as disciples; twelve stars or twelve
orate would be a Jesse tree. A Messianic
as disciples. A large Greek cross with
symbol of Christ for Advent is the Sun of
three small ones in each of the four an-
Righteousness. This is made up of an
IHC or IHS in a circle which is sur-
Healing Ministry: Laying on of hands (on
rounded by rays of glory, alternating
the sick) or ampulla (cruse) of oil for
straight and wavy.
The Transfiguration: For a triptych, a
scroll for Elijah on one side and tables of
As a substitute for the Christmas Law for Moses on the other side of a
creche scene a triptych could be made to cross or a monogram of Christ in the
represent (1) Annunciation, (2) Nativity, middle; or a cross with the two symbols
(3) Shepherds, by using (1) lily in vase or in upper angles and three below tents
fleur-de-lis, (2)manger with crossed legs (middle tent at base of cross). Another
at each end, monogram IHS above op- idea: two tablets of the Law for Moses
tional, (3) shepherd's crooks. with a flaming chariot wheel superim-
posed on them and a monogram of
Epiphany Christ above. See also Transfiguration in

A triptych for the Visit of the Magi:

Star with rays including one long ray

pointing to earth; (2) manger with

crossed legs in a shed and a Christ sym-
bol above the manger; (3) three crowns; A large Latin cross with an angel in
or three caskets; or small chest (gold), each upper quarter and in the lower
cornucopia (incense) and ciborium quarters, on the ground, a fox (see entry
(myrrh). under DEVIL in Lent section) on one
For the Baptism of Christ (Epiphany side and on the other a raven. This bird

represents God's care for a desert saint, Holy Week or Good Friday
originating from the story of Elijah in the
wilderness fed by ravens (I Kings 17:4).
A square or upright rectangle divided

The same bird an attribute of the

is also into four parts by a cross. Some of the
instruments of the Passion are shown in
desert saints, Paul the Hermit and An-
thony of Egypt, who were fed daily in each of the four areas, but related to a
particular time such as the scourging,
their desert solitude by a raven bringing
them bread. Christ crucified, or the deposition.
Another scene: The crucifixion cross
Amedieval custom for mid-Lent with darkened sun (shown with rays)
suggests a scene based on the four and moon above, one in each corner,
evangelists. In the medieval ceremony I. N.R.I, on board on the top cross arm,

the four gospel books (Matthew, Mark, crown of thorns at the crossing,
Luke, John) were placed at the four cor- perhaps serpent or skull at the base (or
ners of the altar by deacons preparatory some of the Instruments of the Passion
to an instruction by the priest on the four such as nails and pincers).
evangelists' symbols. Following out this An arrangement of the Instruments of
idea in a scene, the four deacons could be the Passion.
represented as the evangelists at the
comers of the altar v^th their symbols Easter
shown on them, more simply four
An appropriate scene for the Good
books with such symbols. For Matthew a
Friday to Easter period Jonah and the
winged man; for Mark a winged lion; for
Whale. This may be made of cardboard
Luke a winged ox; for John an eagle.
and construction paper including boat
A device appropriate to Lent is the with mast and sail, figure of Jonah,
Jerusalem cross which is also called the whale in a blue sea (with whale's mouth
crusaders' cross. It appeared on the coat large enough to accommodate Jonah).
of arms of Godfrey of Bouillon, the first Jonah appears in the boat from Palm
Latin king of Jerusalem (1099). The de- Sunday to Maundy Thursday, in the
vice condists of a large Greek cross with whale on Good Friday and Easter Eve,
a smaller Greek cross placed in each of emerging from the whale for Easter Day
the four angles. This should be red cros- and Week.
ses on a white background. An ancient arrangement of peacocks,
a resurrection symbol, places a pair of
them, one on each side of a chalice or
vase from which they are about to drink.
Palm Sunday
A cross over the chalice may be added.
This may be represented by crossed A triptych or series of scenes for Easter
palm branches and in the center above Day can be made out of the lessons used
them the orb and cross symbolizing the on Holy Saturday. The three essential
triumph of Jesus Christ. Bible incidents to be symbolized are the

story of Creation (Genesis 1:1-2:2), Is- Of triumphant gladness;
rael's deliverance from Pharaoh at the God hath brought his Israel
Red Sea (Exodus 14:10-15:1) and the Into joy from sadness;
Resurrection of Christ. Since light in Loosed from Pharaoh's bitter yoke
darkness, typified by the lighting of the Jacob's sons and daughters;
paschal candle, is a symbol of God and of Led them with un-moistened foot
Jesus Christ, the Creation story can be Through the Red Sea waters.
shown by the sun and moon with God's
hand between them. Two walls of water, Pentecost
designated by wavy lines, with stick fig-
A fan of red and vellow (or two shades
ures in between can serve for the Red
of red) tongues of flame makes a showy
Sea incident. The cross over an open
Pentecost scene. Remember to use seven
stone coffin or some other Easter symbol
tongues of fire. Another symbol
can indicate the Resurrection. Two fur-
can represent the seven gifts of the Holy
ther scenes are appropriate. After Cre-
Spirit by using either seven doves or a
ation came which is
the flood (Genesis 7)
seven-branched candlestick with flam-
usually pictured by Noah's ark. God's
ing candles. The seven wisdom,
gifts are
presence at the Exodus appears in a pil-
understanding, counsel, might, knowl-
lar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by
edge, holy fear of the Lord, true godli-
night to guide the Israelites on their
ness. The sevenfold gifts are based on
journey (Exodus 13:21). See Easter Vigil
Isaiah 11:2 in the Septuagint (Greek)
service in the Proposed Book of Com-
version. The seventh is not found in En-
mon Prayer.
glish versions.
John Mason Neale translated an an-
cient Greek Easter hymn, "Come, ye Suggestion for colors: Use collage of col-
faithful, raise the strain," of which the ored construction papers, colored car-
first stanza reminds us of the connection bons for spirit duplicators, ball point or
of the Exodus with Easter. felt tipped pens of different inks, poster
Come, ye faithful, raise the strain paints for large scenes.

Index of Entries

Index of Bible References


Index of Entries
Adam, see Crucifixion Scene. 41; Skull and Bones. 47 Dove, 21, 56, 61

Adonai, see Titles of Jesus Christ. 13 Eagle, 51, 61: Standard, 42

Advent Wreath, 10 Easter, 51

Alpha and Omega, 10 Easter Lily, 51

Ancient ot Days, 59 Egg. 51

Angel, 17: of the Resurrection, 50 Emmanuel, see Titles of Jesus Christ, 13
Annunciation, 17 Elijah, 11: see Transfiguration. 62
Ape, see Devil. 36 Empty Tomb, 51
Apple, 17 Epiphany, 21
Ashes, Ash Wednesday, 36 Eve, see Crucifixion Scene. 41
Ass, 17 Ewer, see Basin and Ewer, 40
Augustus Caesar, 17 Eye, 58
Aureole, 17-18: see Transfiguration. 62 Fasting, 37
Banner, 18: with Cross, 50: see Lamb with Banner. 52 Fire or Flames, 61 : Tongues of, 56
Baptism of Jesus Christ, 18 Fish, 60
Basin and Ewer (Pitcher), 40 Fleur de Lis, 58
Bethlehem, 18 Fox, see Devil, 36
Blackbird, see Devil. 36 Frankincense, 21-22
Butterfly, 50 Gabriel, 22
Caesar Augustus, see Augustus Caesar. 17 Gall, 42
Calvary, see Golgotha, 42-43 Garden, see Annunciation, 17
Camel, 18-19 Garland, 22
Candle, 19 Gate, 22: of Heaven, of Hell, 52
Caskets, 19 Gethsemane, 42
Cave, 19 Gifts, 22-23

Centurion, 40 Glastonbury Thorn, 23

Christ, 19-20: in Limbo (Hell), 50 Glory of the Lord, 23: see Transfiguration. 62

Christmas Day, 20 Gold, 23

Christmas Rose, 20 Goldfinch, 42
Christmas Tree, 20-21 Golgotha, 42-43
Clover, 58 Good Friday, 43

Cock, 40 Gourd, see Jonah. 52

Coins, 40 Grapes and Wheat, 43
Comforter (Counselor), 56 Hammer, 43
Crib or Creche, 21 Hand or Hands, 23; of God, 59; see All Saints' Day. 63
Cross, 40-41, 60: and Crown, see All Saints' Day. 63: Hare, Rabbit, 52
and Serpent, Holy Cross Day, 63
60; see also Herod, 23
Crown, 50; of Thorns, 41 Holly, 23-24
Crucifixion Scene, 41 Holy Cross Day, 63
Cup, 42 Holy, Holy, Holy, 58
Dandelion, 42 IHS, IHC, 24
Daniel and Two Lions, 50 Incarnation, 24
Darkness, 11 Inn, 24

David, 21 I. N.R.I. ,43

Dayspring, see Titles of Jesus Christ. 13 Instruments of the Passion, 44
Devil, Satan, 36-37 Ivy, 52

Dice, 42 Jesse, 25; see Ruins, 29; Titles of Jesus Christ. 13

Dolphin, 50 Jesse Tree, 25

John the Baptist, 11-12 Rock, 60
Joseph of Arimathea, 44 Rope, 47
Kalends (Calends) of January, 25 Ruins, 29

Key of David, see Titles of jesus Christ. 13 Saint, see All Saints Day. 63
King of Nations, King of Kings, see Titles of jesus Saint John, 47
Christ. 13 Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus), 29-30
Ladder, 44 Sanctifier of the Faithful, 61

Lamb, 44, 60: with Banner, 52-53 Satan, see Devil. 36-37
Lanterns and Torches, 44 Savior, 30
Last Judgment, 12 Scepter, 30

LaureL 25 Scorpion, 47
Leopard, 25-26; see Devil. 37 Scourge, 47
Light, 26 Serpent, 47; Cross and, 60
Lily, 26 Seven Doves, 56
Lion, 53; see Devil, 37 Shamrock, see Clover. 58
Magi, 26-27 Sheep and Shepherds, 30
Man of Sorrows, 44 Shell, 30
Manger, see Crib or Creche. 21 Shield of the Holy Trinity, 58-59
Maundy Thursday, 44 Skull and Bones, 47
Messiah, 27 Spear, 47
Mistletoe, 27-28 Spider, see Devil. 47
Myrrh, 28 Sponge, 47
Nails, 45 S.P.QT^,48
Nicodemus, 45 Stable. 30-31
Nimbus, 28 Star, 31

Noel, Nowel, 28 Sun and Moon, 48

Owl, 45; see Devil. 37 Sun of Righteousness, 31-32

Ox, 28 Swallow, 54; see Incarnation. 24

Pack, Sack, 28 Tabernacles, see Transfiguration. 62

Palm Branches, 45 Tau Cross, 12
Paraclete, 56 Thistle, 48

Paradise Tree, see Christmas Tree. 20 Titles of Jesus Christ, 12

Pasch, Paschal, 53 Tongues of Flame, 56

Paschal Candle, 53 Torch, 32; Lanterns and, 44

Passover, 45-46 Tower, 32
Peacock, 28, 53 Transfiguration, 62
Pelican, 46 Tree Ornaments, 32
Pentecost, 56 Triangles, 59
Phoenix, 54 Trumpet, 32
Pillar, 46 Unicorn, 32, 60
Pitcher, see Basin and Ewer. 40 Virgin Mary, 48; see Annunciation. 17
Pomegranate, 29, 54 Wassail, 32-33
Prince of Peace, 29 Wheat, 33; Grapes and, 43
Purse, 46 Whitsunday, 56
Raven, see Devil. 37 Winding Sheet, 48
Redeemer, 46 Wisdom, see Titles of jesus Christ, 12

Reed, 46 Wolf, see Devil. 37

Reindeer, 29 Wreath, 33

Robe of Christ, 46-47 Yule, 33

Index of Bible References
Genesis 1:1-2:2 Easter Scenes 70 Song of

3:17-18 Thistle 48 Songs 4:12 Annunciation 17

7 Easter Scenes 70 Isaiah 1:3 Ass 17

Exodus 3:2 Tongues of Flame 56 Ox 28

Passover 46 6:3 Holy, Holy, Holy 58

12:1-13 Pasch, Paschal 53 7 David 21

12:46 Lamb 44 7:14 Titles of Jesus Christ 13

13:21 Easter Scene 70 9:2 Darkness 11

14:10-15:1 Easter Scene 70 9:6 Prince of Peace 29

19:18 Tongues of Flame 56 11:1 Jesse, Jesse Tree 25

31:18 Transfiguration 62 11:2 Seven Doves 56

Pentecost 55 Pentecost Scenes 70
11:10 Jesse, Jesse Tree 25
Leviticus 23:40 Palm Branches 45
22:22 Titles of Jesus Christ 13
Numbers 11:24-30 Pentecost 55 41:14 Redeemer 46
20:11 Rock 60 53:3 Man of Sorrows 44
21:9 Tau Cross 12 53:7 Lamb 44
Cross and Serpent 60
60:3 Magi 26
24:17 Scepter 30
60:6 Camel 19
Star 31 Magi 27

Joshua 3 Baptism of Ezekiell:10 Last Judgment 12

Jesus Christ 18 1:28 Glory of the Lord 23
I Samuel 16:16 David 21 Daniel 6:16-23 Daniel and
17:12 Bethlehem 18 Two Lions 50
17:34ff David 21 7:9 Ancient of Days 59

I Kings 10:2 Camel 19 Jonah 1:17 Jonah 52

17:4 Lent Scenes 69 4:6,7 Jonah 52

II Kings 2:1-12 Elijah 11 Micah4:8 Tower 32

Chronicles 13:8 David 21 5:2 Bethlehem 18
5:2-4 David 21
Job 42:6 Ashes,
Ash Wednesday 36 Habakkuk3:2 Ox 28
Psalms 22:18 Dice 42 Malachi3:l Elijah 11
24:7 Gate 22 4:2 Titles of Jesus Christ 13
I 69:21 Reed 46 Christmas Day 20
72:10 Magi 26-27 Sun of Righteousness 31

74:13 Baptism of 4:5 Elijah 11

Jesus Christ 18 Wisdom of
91:13 Devil, Satan 37 Solomon 3:1 All Saints' Day 63
102:6 Owl 45 Matthew l:6ff Jesse, Jesse Tree 25
Pelican 46
1:21 Messiah 27
114:3 Baptism of Savior 30
Jesus Christ 18
1:23 Titles of Jesus Christ 13
121:4 Lion 53
2 Magi 26
Proverbs 8:22-31 Titles of Jesus Christ 12 2:2 Star 31
15:3 Eye 58 2:6 Bethlehem 18

2:11 Caskets 19 1:32 Titles of Jesus Christ 13
3:11 John the Baptist 11 1:36 John the Baptist 11

3:16 Baptism of 1:68 Incarnation 24

Jesus Christ 18 1:69 David 21
Dove 21 Unicorn 60
3:17 Hand or Hands 23 1:78 Titles of Jesus Christ 13
4:1 Devil, Satan 36 2:4ff David 21
6:16-18 Ashes, Jesse, Jesse Tree 25
Ash Wednesday 36 2:9 Glory of the Lord 23
8:20 Stable 31 2:11 David 21

11:14 Elijah 11
Messiah 27
Savior 30
11:21 Ashes,
Ash Wednesday 36
2:21 IHS, IHC 24

12:40 Jonah 52 2:32 Candle 19

17:1-8 Transfiguration 62 3:22 Baptism of

Jesus Christ 18
24:29 Sun and Moon 48
Dove 21
25:31-46 L^st Judgment 12 Hand or Hands 23
26:15 Coins 40
4:2 Devil, Satan 36
26:34 Cock 40
9:28-36 Transfiguration 62
26:39 Cup 42
9:32 Glory of the Lord 23
26:40 Gethsemane 42
22:43-44 Gethsemane 42
27:2 Rope 47
23:39ff Crucifixion Scene 41
27:3-4 Coins 40
23:44-45 Sun and Moon 48
27:24 Basin and Ewer 40 23:47 Crucifixion Scene 41
27:27-31 Robe of Jesus Christ 46
John 1: Iff Christmas 15
27:29 Crown of Thorns 41
1:2-3 Alpha & Omega 10
27:34 Gall 42
1:9 Epiphany 21
27:38ff Crucifixion Scene 41
1:29 Lamb 44, 60
27:48 Reed 46
1:36 John the Baptist 11
Sponge 47
Lamb 44
27:54, 56 Crucifixion Scene 41
3:14 Tau Cross 12
28:20 Alpha and Omega 10 Serpent 47
Mark 1:10 Baptism of Cross and Serpent 60
Jesus Christ 18 6:33, 35 Wheat 33
Dove 21 8:12 Candle 19
1:11 Hand or Hands 23 Light 26
1:13 Devil, Satan 36 God the Son,
Jesus Christ 60
9:2-8 Transfiguration 62
9:11-13 Elijah 11 11:25 God the Son,
Jesus Christ 60-61
10:45 Redeemer 46
12:12-14 Palm Branches 45
15:16-20 Robe of Jesus Christ 46
13:1-15 Maundy Thursday 45
15:24 Dice 42
13:34 Maundy Thursday 45
15:27 Crucifixion Scene 41
14:16 Counselor
15:39 Centurion 40
(Comforter) 56
Crucifixion Scene 41
16:7 Counselor
15:40 Crucifixion Scene 41
(Comforter) 56
15:42-47 Joseph of Arimathea 44
lanterns and Torches 44

Luke 1:19, 26 Gabriel 22 18:12 Rope 47

1:26-32 Annunciation 17 19:19-20 I.N.R.I. 43

19:23-24 Robe of Jesus Christ 47 I Corinthians 10:4 Rock 60
19:25-26 Crucifixion Scene 41 15:22 Crucifixion Scene 41
Virgin Mary 48
I Peter 3:19 Gate of Heaven,
19:26-27 Saint John 47
Gate of Hell 52
19:34 Crucifixion Scene 41 Timothy 6:15
1 Titles of Jesus Christ 13
Spear 47
19:34-36 Lamb 44
Revelation 2:10 Crown 50
All Saints' Day 63
20:4 Winding Sheet 48
3:7 Titles of Jesus Christ 13
20:19 God the Son,
4:6-7 Last Judgment 12
Jesus Christ 61
o 51
20:25 Nails 44
4:8 Holy, Holy, Holy 58
20:26 God the Son,
7:9 All Saints' Day 63
Jesus Christ 61
12:7-9 Devil, Satan 36
Acts 2:1-3 Pentecost 55
19:16 Titles of Jesus Christ 13
2:3 Fire or Flames 61
22:12-13 Alpha and Omega 10
26:13 Glory of the Lord 23
22:16 Titles of Jesus Christ 13
Romans 13:12 Darkness 11 Star 31


Days and Seasons

Cowie, Leonard W. and Gummer, John Selwyn, The Christian Calendar, Springfield,
Massachusetts: G. & C. Merriam Company, 1974.
McArthur, A. Allan, The Evolution of the Christian Year, London: Student Christian
Movement Press, 1953.

Shepherd, Massey H., Jr., The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary, New York:
Oxford University Press, 1950.


Buttrick, George A., ed., The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, (4 vol.). New York:
Abingdon Press, 1962.

Hastings, James, Dictionary of the Bible, revised ed., Frederick C. Grant and H. H. Rowley,
eds.. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1963.
James, M. R., The Apocryphal New Testament, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1924.


Appleton, Leroy H. and Bridges, Stephen, Symbolism in Liturgical Art, New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons, 1959.

Ferguson, George W., Signs and Symbols in Christian Art, New York: University Press,

Reau, Louis, Iconographie de lArt Chretien, (3 vols.), Paris: Presses Universitaires de

France, 1955-1959. (Volume 2, Iconographie de la Bible, is especially helpful.)

Webber, F. R., Church Symbolism, Cleveland: J. H. Jansen, 1927.

Art and Literature

Jacobus de Voraigne, The Golden Legend, trans. Granger Ryan and fielmut Ripperger,
London and New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1941.
Jameson, Anna, Legends of the Madonna, revised ed., Estelle M. Hurll, ed., Boston:
Houghton Company, 1896.
Sacred and Legendary
, Art, revised ed., Estelle M. Hurll, ed., Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1896.
Male, Emile, The Gothic Image: Religious Art in France of the Thirteenth Century, trans.
Dora Nussey, New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1958.
White, T. H., trans. & ed.. The Bestiary: A Book of Beasts. New York: G. P. Putnam's
Sons, 1954.

A SYMBOL intended to suggest meaning. It represents some-

thing below the surface. Like a sign, it is a means of communica-

tion, a device to direct our thinking.

A symbolism goes back to the Bible and

great deal of Christian
other writings of centuries ago. Knowing the background of such
symbols enables us to understand the reasons for their use.
Symbols of Church Seasons and Days will be welcomed by all
who are interested in the symbols and concepts associated with
the various seasons of the liturgical year. Several features make it

a unique reference tool:

Divided into seven sections according to the chief festivals

and seasons
Advent, Christmas-Epiphany, Lent, Holy
Week, Easter-Ascension, Pentecost and Feasts of the Pente-
cost Season.

All entries within each section listed alphabetically.

Lavishly illustrated by Betty Wolfe (author/illustrator of

The Banner Book) and Kerry Dexter (author/illustrator of
The Display Book).
Symbols chosen not only from art and decoration, but also
from names and phrases found in seasonal hymns, legends
and Bible verses.
Extensive reference to Bible passages, plus a complete index
of Bible references.

Suggestions for games and art projects for all ages.

In a well-planned, comprehensively researched and lucidly


written volume
a must for anyone interested in Christian


Wilton, Connecticut

ISBN 0-8192-