Questions tagged [symbolism]

The practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships.

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2answers
59k views

What is the purpose and meaning of the Christian Flag?

Many of you have probably seen the Christian flag: a white flag with a red cross on a blue corner. It's a staple of some churches and many Christian schools. Do the colors have specific ...
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Ancient imagery beasts used in Christian symbolisms?

Ancient imagery beasts used in Christian symbolisms? We have all heard of unicorns! The unicorn is a legendary creature that has been described since antiquity as a beast with a single large, ...
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Is the beast of Revelation 13 the same as the beast of Daniel 7? [closed]

There are several similarities between the Beast described in Revelation chapter 13 and the one described in Daniel chapter 7. Rev 13:1 and 2 KJV And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw ...
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What symbols are preferred among certain denominations more than others?

I am compiling a list of common themes or symbols to be used for decoration around the different denominations or to be given as gifts for members of that church. I am in the USA and only interested ...
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Do Christians have “secret” (handshakes for example) ways of knowing who other Christians were?

Did Christians ever come up with "secret" ways of knowing who other Christians were? I don't mean exactly a handshake, because I get that sometimes people don't (or can't) shake hands. Seems like it ...
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What criteria do Catholics use to determine if an old testament character prefigures Mary?

I was at a Catechetical training seminar in my parish and the presenter on topic of the creed when touching on the Blessed Virgin Mary said that lots and lots of characters prefigure Mary in the old ...
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2answers
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Why did Magdalena use her hair to dry Jesus' feet? [closed]

I don't really understand this part of the story in Luke 7:38. Why would Mary Magdalena use her hair to dry Jesus' feet? I have some clues, but I don't want to guide the replies. I'd like to know both,...
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Who symbolizes Christ in J. R. R. Tolkien's “The Lord of the Rings”?

I have long been a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien, and have enjoyed his works from an early age. I am aware that he was raised by a Roman Catholic priest, and remained a deeply religious man his whole life. ...
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4answers
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Nuns wearing wedding bands?

On a recent trip a nice nun took a picture of my family. I noticed that the nun was wearing a wedding band on her left hand. I have a vague recollection of reading somewhere that nuns are considered ...
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3answers
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According to the Catholic Church, does purgatory have a symbol? [closed]

I haven't found it on the internet. Are there any symbols for purgatory, or related to purgatory?
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1answer
218 views

What is the purpose of the rosary and why do some differ in the amount of beads they contain?

Should a Rosary be made of six or twelve beaded sections? Does it symbolize something specific or is it simply an object created to reflect something in the Catholic religion?
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1answer
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Why are there Sybils and Prophetesses in the Sistine Chapel?

For what purpose did Michelangelo add each Sybils or Prophetesses to the ceiling of the Sistine chapel? This is an explanation to why they're there in the first place. The latter, although ...
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1answer
393 views

Why is the Ichthys symbol almost always facing left?

This question is very straight forward: is there any reason for the Ichthys symbol to be almost always facing left? A simple google search will show this pattern. Is there any theology or even ...
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Why do Popes have seven candlesticks on the altar at Mass?

Why is it that Popes have seven candlesticks on the altar when they pontificate a Solemn Mass? This is something that I have noticed at several Papal Masses. Sometimes the candlestick is set next to ...
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Is there a historical reason why the liturgical colour purple eventually replaced black to symbolize penance?

Is there a historical reason why the liturgical colour purple eventually replaced black to symbolize penance? This question does not have its' answer in the difference between the two forms of the ...
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1answer
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Do the ancient churches built by the Portuguese have a statue of mermaid on the façade?

My parish church (St Mary's Forane Church, Muttom, Cherthala, Kerala ) in southern India, believed to have been built by the Portuguese in the 16th Century has, among other images, two built-in ...
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Prior to 1900 were there any depictions of Satan in Christian art as a woman/female?

Are there any Christian symbolic depictions Satan in art as a woman? In Christian art, Satan has often been depicted as a man (male) or some evil looking monster out of man's imagination of what the ...
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2answers
286 views

What does the symbology in this painting of the Trinity mean?

This image is in a Catholic hospital in Spokane, WA. I understand the Father/Son/Holy Spirit symbology, the ABBA reference, and the initials of the Christ. But three things in this image I cannot ...
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What is the biblical basis of the “goats are evil” trope?

Having spent some time cuddling and playing with goats, which are delightful creatures, I have to ask: What is the biblical basis of the association, common even among Christians, of goats with Satan ...
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How did the four living creatures become associated with the Gospel writers?

The visions of Ezekiel recorded in Ezekiel 1 and that of John in Revelation 4:7 include four living creatures (ζῷα) that stand in the presence of the throne of God. In both visions these heavenly ...
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Why is the RCA church more literal in scripture where the UCC church is allegorical?

I’ve attended numerous churches in both RCA and UCC denominations in which RCA had a very literal take on the crucifixion and resurrection where the UCC church has a very allegorical approach. ...
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What is the significance of colour purple in the robe that Jesus was made to wear?

Was there any significance to the colour purple, as described by the evangelists while mentioning the robe that Jesus was made to put on before His crucifixion? Both John 19:2 and Mark 15:7 mentioning ...
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What is the significance of what Jesus ate after his resurrection?

Is anyone aware of any special symbolic significance of Jesus eating specifically fish and honeycomb while showing his disciples he was not "a spirit" when he appeared to them (and somewhat scared ...
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1answer
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Was it possible for Catholics to express their faith openly in England during the time of persecution?

Was it possible for Catholics to express their faith openly (if at all) in Britain during the time of the of English persecutions (April 29, 1559)-(April 13, 1829)? On 29 April 1559, the English ...
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Why did this Early Version of the Watchtower Magazine include Crosses, and what do these other Symbols on the Magazine Represent?

The following is "Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, October 1, 1907." I was under the impression that symbols (especially crosses) were not allowed in the church. "Jehovah's ...
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How widely used is “beehive” imagery?

The LDS church uses the imagery of a beehive to represent the way the church [should] function. Notably lacking any sign of the cross or other usual Christian symbology in the temple, the main pulpit ...
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5answers
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How did the cross come to be a symbol for Christianity?

I understand WHY the cross became a symbol for Christianity, but HOW did it become a symbol? How did it start and how did it evolve into the symbol (or symbols since there are many variants) we all ...
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What is the “veil” that covers the heart when the Old Testament is read? [closed]

2 Corinthians 3:13-18 (NIV) We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, ...
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1answer
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Besides St. Casimir, are any other saints portrayed with three hands in iconography?

Other than the icon of St. Casimir in Vilnius (below), are there other examples of saints with three hands? Does a third hand make up part of the iconography of St. John the Evangelist? Image by ...
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Why are a Catholic bishop's Coat of Arms green and not purple?

Why are a Catholic bishop's Coat of Arms green and not purple? The Canadian Conference of Bishops tell us that the galero and tassels on the Coat of Arms for a bishop are green. Cardinals' galero and ...
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What does the letters 'JHS' mean?

Can you tell me what the letters JHS mean? You can see them on the picture below. I am from Slovakia (East Europe) and we speak Slovak and these letters are from Catholic church. I saw these letters ...
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When was the number of the beast, 666, first identified as referring to Emperor Nero?

The belief that the number of the beast in Revelation, 666, refers to Nero is a common theory now. When was this identification first suggested?
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Which denominations regulate how a cross is worn on the body? [closed]

In public and private, people wear many different crosses in many manners. Which denominations hold any principles, explicit or implicit, that govern the display of crosses on the body? Speculating, ...
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The rules on how and when people can wear a cross [closed]

Which principles govern the wearing of crosses? Do some denominations require that it touch the skin, or that it never be removed? Will a cross hung on the neck and one on an ear have different ...
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What was the difference between Berengar's view of the Eucharist and that of Zwingli?

Berengar of Tours played a major role in the Second Eucharistic Controversy, which took place in the 11th century. He opposed the increasing acceptance of proto-transubstantiation doctrines, arguing ...
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Why are thighs important?

I know it sounds like a silly or weird question, but I'm serious. Genesis 24:2 One day Abraham said to his oldest servant, the man in charge of his household, “Take an oath by putting your ...
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1answer
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Was it common in Biblical and Early Church times to use sports for illustrating sermons and lessons (as Pope Francis and Paul did)?

The Ancient Olympic Games were a very famous event in ancient times. Taking advantage of their popularity, Paul used them (specifically, the Stadion/200 metres and boxing games) in 1 Corinthians 9:24-...
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The unicorn as a Christological figure

This isn't so much a question about theology or denominational teachings as Church history. In an answer to a question on another StackExchange site, someone posted this: I am an Art Historian, ...
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1answer
252 views

Is it known when and why Christians began to sign themselves and impart blessings with the Cross?

Among the Christians who make the sign of the cross [cf. this @fredsbend's answer], is it known when and why Christians began to sign themselves with the Cross? The best answer will also include when ...
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1answer
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Why is the interlocking-squares (gammadia) a symbol of the Melchizedek Priesthood?

I was reading about the relatively new discovery of the Apostle Phillip's gravesite in Turkey, and it briefly mentioned that the square was represented in his grave and it was significant because the ...
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1answer
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Hearing Bell sounds - What does the Bible say about bells? [closed]

Recently I have heard many bell sounds during times of heavy spiritual warfare & physical troubles. I know i'm not crazy because I've had relatives and friends hear them as-well. They come from ...
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According to the LDS church, why was Jesus Christ born when he was born?

Why was Christ born when he was born? Why not earlier? Why not later? Does the time period of his life have a symbolic or practical importance? I am not aware of any reason why Christ needed to live ...
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What is the origin and meaning of this symbol?

The symbol in the attached photo is on the side of a 1940s motorcycle purchased from a police vehicle auction. The symbol in question is mounted on the frame near the rear axle. Can anyone shed light ...
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Blessings of objects by the Priest

Is there an official list of objects that must be blessed by a priest for a variety of purposes? General Example: religious coins, saint necklaces, anniversary gifts given to or from someone etc. ...
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What is the significance of water from Jesus' side? [closed]

John 19:34 "one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water." I know this is supposed to be something great as in the next verse the apostle tries to ...
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What is the significance of the three different gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh) given to Jesus by the Magi after his birth? [closed]

In Matthew 2:11, we read that the Magi or wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Were these common gifts to be given at that time or did each of them hold significant meaning, ...
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What does this Catholic symbol mean?

I have this symbol over the entrance of my apartment. I have been told it is a Catholic symbol, and the owner of the flat is probably Catholic since it is the dominant faith here. Searching on Google ...
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What is the significance of a double cross?

What is the significance of a cross with two cross-bars to Christians? Does it carry different symbolism than a normal cross?
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When did the “upside down cross” become a symbol of anti-Christianity?

When did the "upside down cross" become a symbol of anti-Christianity? I can find no mention of it in the Bible. However there is, in Christian history, the story of Peter's execution – which really ...
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1answer
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Lutherans: Shells, baptism, why?

Since I am almost certain someone will come in and think the title of this question needs editing, I'm going to request that you leave it as it stands. The full/expanded question: I have seen shells ...