The James Avery Faith Collection
SYMBOLS OF FAITHThroughout history, these symbols were widely used in religious works of art to communicate a message of faith and bring the worshiper closer to God. Today, these symbols still resonate, and can be found in many of our faith-inspired designs. Whether subtle or overt, they are simple reminders of cherished beliefs.
I spent my late teens and twenties as an agnostic. I returned to the Church in 1951, not only to find a new meaning for my own life, but also to discover a vast treasure of Christian symbols, which I previously ignored. With a new perspective, I began seeing the great truths that these symbols conveyed.
The Alpha and Omega
In Revelation, Jesus called Himself the Alpha and the Omega, meaning He existed before anything else and will exist after all else ceases. He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.
The AnchorThe anchor is a Christian symbol for hope and steadfastness. The source for this symbol is Hebrews 6:19, "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast." Anchors are found in many inscriptions in the catacombs of Rome. They were also often carved on old Christian gems.
The Angel"Angel" comes from the Greek word angelos, meaning "messenger." Angels are spiritual beings who interact with people on earth at God's direction. They bring us news, such as the birth of Jesus, and watch over and protect us from harm (Ref. Matthew 18:10).
The ButterflyBecause the butterfly metamorphoses from a caterpillar to a chrysalis and finally becomes a butterfly, it is a strong resurrection symbol. Christ was born of a woman to be human, was crucified and buried in a tomb, and was then glorified after His crucifixion as the risen, victorious Christ
The Celtic CrossThe original Celtic Crosses were found in Great Britain and Ireland, where they were erected as wayside and cemetery crosses. Handsomely carved in local stone, and depicting Passion scenes, the circle motif in these crosses is an emblem of eternity.
The CircleThe circle, or ring, represents the symbol of eternity and never-ending existence. It also symbolizes Heaven because of its perfect symmetry and its unvarying balance. As an emblem for God, it suggests not only the perfection of God but the everlasting God.
The Descending DoveThe Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended upon Jesus at His baptism in the river Jordan. In Christian art doves are used to symbolize purity, peace, and reconciliation. The Holy Spirit is now most often depicted in the form of a descending dove.
The Fleuree CrossThe arms of a Fleuree Cross end in three graceful petals, each resembling the fleur–de–lis. These three petals symbolize the Holy Trinity and because of this, the Fleuree Cross has been widely used on altar and pulpit vestments during the Trinity season. The fleur–de–lis, or lily, is also a popular symbol of the Resurrection.
The Heart"...For man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart," says 1 Samuel 16:7. The heart symbolizes God's love, humanity, and charity. It is also considered to be the source of understanding, love, courage, devotion, sorrow, and joy.
The IchthusIn Greek, the first letters of the words, "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior" spell Ichthus, meaning "fish." When the early Christians were persecuted, they used the Ichthus as a secret sign to identify themselves to each other. Today, it is one of the most widely recognized symbols of Christianity.
The Latin CrossFew other signs or symbols exist that are as widely recognized or hold as much meaning as the Latin Cross. It is the form of the cross on which Christ died and is used worldwide to symbolize Christianity.
The NailNails were driven through Christ's palms and feet when He was crucified. Most crucifixes have only three nails, since both feet were pierced by one nail. Nails are symbolic of Christ's physical suffering.
The Star of DavidWhile there is no reference to the six pointed Star of David as such in the Old Testament, the symbol did emerge as early as the 3rd Century A.D. It represents the shield of King David and is accepted by Jews worldwide as a symbol of their faith. Since Christianity has its roots in Judaism, the Star of David also has significance for many Christians.