Early Christian Art - Symbolism and Icons
The definition of the Christian Symbol or Icon in early religious Christian Art forms. A Christian sign or icon is an object, character, figure, or color used to represent abstract ideas or concepts - a picture that represents an idea and fundamental to understanding the icons and images found in Early Christian Art. A religious icon is an image or symbolic representation with sacred significance. The meanings, origins and ancient traditions surrounding Early Christian Art symbols date back to early times when the majority of ordinary people were not able to read or write and printing was unknown. Many Early Christian Art symbols or icons were 'borrowed' or drawn from early pre-Christian traditions.
Early Christian Art - Symbols and Iconsof the Evangelists
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were the authors of the four New Testament books telling the story of the life of Christ. They were called the Evangelists. The Evangelist symbols in early Christian art were found in manuscripts, sculpture and wall paintings. Their symbols were as follows:
Matthew: Angel (man)
Early Christian Art Symbols - Anchor
The Anchor represents an emblem of hope.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Ankh
The word Ankh is an Egyptian word. It is a tau cross with a loop at the top, used as an attribute or sacred emblem, symbolizing or representing generation or enduring life. Also called 'crux ansata'. The emblem was adopted by Christians, from the Egyptians, as a symbol of eternal life.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Apple
The Apple is also referred to as the Forbidden fruit symbolizing sin. The association between 'apple' and 'sin' possibly derives from the similarity of two Latin words malum and malus meaning “apple” and “sin” respectively. This led to the to the apple’s connection with the fruit that was eaten by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The eating of the Forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil which brought sin into the world.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Ashes
The To cover the head with ashes was a token of self-abhorrence and humiliation . This first day of Lent is called Ash Wednesday. The Roman Catholic Church remembers Ash Wednesday by having ashes placed on a person’s forehead by a priest.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Books
The In Religious Art books in the hands of saints show they where well educated in the Scriptures.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Bread and Wine
The Lord’s Supper is symbolized by a chalice of wine with the bread rising above it. The bread is referred to as the host and is a thin, round wafer made from bread and used for Holy Communion. The host usually has the letters I.N.R.I. on it which is an acronym of the Latin phrase IESVS·NAZARENVS·REX·IVDĆORVM, which translates to English as: "Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews". It also has rays coming from it, symbolizing that the Real Presence of Christ is in the host.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Butterfly
The Butterfly Christian Symbol represents and symbolizes the Resurrection. The butterfly has three phases during its life:
The caterpillar - The caterpillar which just eats symbolises normal earthly life where people are preoccupied with taking care of their physical needs.
The chrysalis or cocoon - The chrysalis or cocoon resembles the tomb.
The butterfly - The butterfly represents the resurrection into a glorious new life free of material restrictions.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Cedar of Lebanon
The Cedar of Lebanon is the Cedrus Libani an evergreen tree found in Lebanon and north western Syria that attains great age and height. The Cedar of Lebanon is representative of Christ and is associated with eternal life.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Circle
The Circle Christian Symbol represents eternity. The circle symbolises eternity as it has no beginning or end. Because of this many early Christians believed that there was something divine in circles. Early Astronomy and astrology was connected to the divine for most medieval scholars, the circular shape of the sun, moon and the planets were related to God's act of Creation.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Coins
In Christian Art coins are often shown numbering thirty which representative of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Crown
A crown is a royal headdress or cap of sovereignty, worn by emperors, kings and princes. A Latin cross with a crown of a king resting on top of it symbolizes eternal life. The Crown Christian Symbol represents royal authority, and is often used for Christ, the King of Kings. The image of the crown of thorns is often used symbolically to contrast with earthly monarchical crowns.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Eye
The Eye Christian Symbol represents the "all-seeing eye" representing the eye of God the Father, the all-knowing and ever-present God. In later examples of Christian art the eye was pictured in a triangle with rays of light to represent the infinite holiness of the Trinity.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Fish or Ichthus
The What is the definition and the meaning of the Ichthus / Fish symbol? Ichthus is the Greek word for fish (ΙΧΘΥΣ). The initials of the word Ichthus are also used as a Christian acronym of the following Greek words:
Using the Ichthus acronym IChThUS means "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior".
Early Christian Art Symbols - Fleur-De-Lis
The Fleur-De-Lis Christian Symbol with its association with the lily represents purity, and in turn to the Virgin Mary. As the Fleur-De-Lis composes of composed of three petals and three sepals it also symbolises the Trinity. In Christian art Fleur-De-Lis is also the attribute of the archangel Gabriel, notably in representations of the Annunciation.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Gate
The In Christian Art an open gate symbolize the entrance to Heaven, a closed gate symbolize death or exclusion, broken gates symbolize the powers of hell.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Goat
The Goat Christian Symbol represents oppressors, wicked men and demonic forces. The goat also symbolises unrepentant sinners who will be separated from God on judgment day
Early Christian Art Symbols - Harp
The Harp Christian Symbol represents music, instruments, joy and worship in praising God.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Keys
Pictures of Saint Peter show him holding keys. Two keys represent the dual authority with which to open heaven to repentant sinners and to lock heaven to the unrepentant - the ability to grant or withhold salvation. This power is believed to be bestowed upon every pope who leads the Roman Catholic Church.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Lamb
The Lamb Christian Symbol represents Jesus Christ.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Olive Branch
The Olive Branch Christian Symbol represents an emblem of peace. This because a dove returned to Noah with an olive branch to let him know that the flood waters had abated, and that the Great Flood of God's judgment was over.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Palm
A branch or leaf of the palm, anciently borne or worn as a symbol of victory or rejoicing.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Pearls
Pearls represents the word of God and The kingdom of heaven. Jesus warned his disciples not to cast Pearls before swine.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Rock
That which resembles a rock in firmness; a defense; a support; a refuge. The Rock represents Jesus Christ. A rock can also symbolize obedience to Christ illustrated by Saint Peter whose name means "rock".
Early Christian Art Symbols - Scales
The Scales Christian Symbol represents symbol of justice which correspond to the use in metaphor of matters being "held in the balance" and may be used to represent the final judgment.
Early Christian Art Symbols - Tower
The Tower Christian Symbol represents God our Refuge