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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17k views

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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Why the difference in depiction of the cross between Catholics and Protestants?

As I understand it, Roman Catholic crosses have Jesus hanging on them, but Protestant crosses do not. I understood that Protestant crosses do not because they want to focus on the Resurrection, not ...
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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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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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What is the reason for the absence of the Cross as a symbol in the LDS Church?

As I was looking at some references for this question dealing with the usage of the inverted pentagram in the LDS Church and particularly on the Temple in Salt Lack City, I came across an article that ...
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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 inverted pentagram symbols on the LDS Temple in Salt Lake City?

The Temple in Salt Lake has several inverted pentagrams as decorations. (To see a few, just google "lds temple salt lake inverted pentagrams" and click on images. Or click here) According to ...
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1answer
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What is the symbolism of the Peacock?

In some churches I have seen, the peacock is used in furniture or other similar items: It can also be seen in some Iconography and decoration: I was just wondering what the symbolism of the Peacock ...
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Christian significance of Tolkien and C. S. Lewis putting “heaven” across the sea?

It is interesting that both of the most prominent Christian fantasy authors (not as in "Christian Fantasy" but Christians who wrote fantasy) put paradise across the sea. I realize that Tolkien's ...
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From an idealist perspective, what are the “seven spirits of God”?

In Revelation, we see God along with the "Seven Spirits before his throne". Revelation 1:4 (NIV) John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, ...
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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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What does the abbreviation “RNIO” mean in a painting of the Virgin and Child?

In the Crivelli painting "The Virgin and Child with Infants Bearing Symbols of the Passion" there is (at the right, under a bare tree) an injured (?) knight with a red shield inscribed with the ...
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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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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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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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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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Should protestants not make the sign of the Cross? [closed]

I'm not a Catholic, but I've been aware since I was little that Catholics will "Cross" themselves. Early on I felt like I shouldn't copy it as it always had been portrayed in tv/film as something ...
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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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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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What is the meaning of the large statue of a pine cone in Vatican City?

What is the meaning of this statue in Vatican City?
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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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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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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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Can indirection bring us closer to Christ?

Peter's excellent blog posting pointed to a movement I'd never heard of before: Militia of the Immaculata (MI). In the process of figuring out what it might be, I read this important qualification: ...
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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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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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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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1answer
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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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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 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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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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Why is the fish often used as a symbol of Christ?

In the United States, you've probably seen it. Many Christians like to put a fish on their cars to show their faith. What is the origin of this symbol?
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What does “therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” mean?

In Matthew 10:16 we read: I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (NIV) What does "be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves"...
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What's the deal with oil?

If you look across the Bible, there are many instances where oil is used. The anointing of Saul and David; Jacob pouring oil over the rock where he had his dream of the staircase to heaven(?); Maria ...
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1answer
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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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1answer
756 views

Why do Carmelite nuns change headwear?

In this movie regarding the life of St. Therese of Lisieux, the girl who wants to become a saint, there is a scene wherein she changes the color of her clothing and headdress after participating some ...
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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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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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What symbols have represented Christianity through the years? [closed]

Today the cross is the primary icon of Christianity, but I'm aware of a few others, such as the Ichthys. What symbols have represented the faith through the centuries?
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What is the significance of Jesus' spitting on the ground in the book of John?

Why does Jesus spit on the ground and make clay to anoint the blind man's eyes? What does this represent? Is the need to wash the anointing off significant? John 9:6-7 NIV After saying this, he ...
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Relevance of the word 'ICTHUS'

I would like to know the meaning and the importance of the word 'ICTHUS' among Christians. I have learned that this is some sort of symbol. Can anyone help me on this?
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What is the reason and meaning of the symbols on the garments worn by Temple-worthy LDS members?

I understand that the sacred garments worn by temple-worthy LDS members include symbols of 1) the square, 2) the compass, and 3) the navel mark, and 4) the knee mark. I know that some of the symbols ...
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What is this symbol (cross with P loop atop)?

I have seen in a church a cross with a loop off the top that makes the vertical look like a P. Does this symbol have a name? What is its meaning? From what does it derive? Can you supply any more ...
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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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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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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 ...
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Why is beating one's breast used to show sadness and guilt? [closed]

According to the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus definition: Beat your breast/chestTo show how sad or guilty you feel in an obvious or public way I understand what is meant ...
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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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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 ...