10 Christian Symbols Explained - Ancient Pages (2023)

A. Sutherland - AncientPages.com -Most people associate Christianity with the cross, but there are also other symbols that have a deep meaning and significance. In this top list we explain the meaning of ten important Christian symbols.

1. Ichthys – The Fish

The fish is a sacred Christian symbol. In Greek, the first letters - Iesous Christos, Theou Yios, Soter (Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior) make the word ‘ichthys’ – fish, with a strong symbolic association of Christ with fish.

I will make you fishers of men". (St. Mark 1: 16-18)

The ichthys symbol became of great importance and started to appear in Christian art during the late 2nd century, and its use spread widely in the 3rd and 4th centuries. The fish appears in many Biblical stories, for example, the fish that swallowed Jonah is believed to symbolize Christ’s incarceration in the tomb. The story of Tobias, who survives an attack by a large fish and then uses the gall of the fish to restore his blind father’s sight, symbolizes God’s blessings.

In a miracle, traditionally known as the 'Miraculous Draught of Fish', the symbol is a representation of abundance and wisdom. Luke's account of Christ's miracle predicts Peter's later an important role as a 'fisher of men'. Read more about theIchthys

2.Bread And Wine

The bread and wine symbolize the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Holy Communion (or the Eucharist), is the blessing of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.

According to the New Testament, the Eucharist (Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper) was introduced by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper. He gave his disciples bread and wine and referring to the bread, he said: "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of me." (Luke 22:19). Bread and wine symbolize Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross and his commission of the apostles at the Last Supper. The sacramental bread (unleavened or leavened) and sacramental wine (or grape juice), are consecrated on an altar (or a communion table) and consumed thereafter.

Many Christians take it literally while others perceive it as a symbolic truth.

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3.Star Of Bethlehem – Star Of The Birth Of Christ

The five-pointed (or four-pointed) star (also known as the Epiphany Star or (Christian Star) represents Jesus' birth and incarnation. It is one of the most powerful symbols of Christianity. On Christmas Eve, the Star, shining brightly in the heavens, guided the wise men to the lowly manger where the Christ child was born.

Matt. 2:1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi (n) from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

Many Christians believe the star was amiraculoussign and sometheologiansclaimed that the star fulfilled a prophecy.

This star is used especially for church decoration during the Advent and Christmas seasons.

4.Lily Flower

To Christians, the lily flower was a symbol of the Holy Trinity as well as an emblem of the Virgin Mary. The Roman Catholic Church adopted the Fleur-de-lis symbol to represent Virgin Mary. When Pope Leo III in 800 crowned Charlemagne as emperor, he is reported to have presented him with a blue banner covered (semé) with golden fleurs-de-lis.

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In early Christian depictions, the innocent lily was sometimes used to represent a baby Jesus Christ, but later in the thirteenth-century scriptures and religious texts the flower represents purity, innocence and an important botanical symbol of Mary. The flower regularly appears in Annunciation arrangements (in a vase, stained-glass windows depicting the Virgin Mary, or in the hand of the angel Gabriel (it is his attribute).

5 .Crown Of Thorns

In Christianity, the thorn symbolizes sin, grief, sorrow and wickedness. The thorns also symbolizes Jesus’ walk along the Via Dolorosa, wearing a crown of thorns.

Three canonical Gospels say, a woven crown of thorns was placed on the head of Jesus during the events related to the crucifixion of Jesus. It was one of the instruments of the Passion, employed by Jesus' captors both to cause him pain and to ridicule his claim of authority. It is mentioned in the gospels of Matthew ('And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee and mocked him, saying Hail, King of the Jews!' 27:29 KJV) and also Mark (15:17).

In later centuries, relics considered by many to be all (or part) of the Crown of Thorns have been deeply venerated.


Dedicated to Venus in the Antiquity, the dove is now a honorable bird for Christian believers. It means the purity of Christ. During the baptism of Jesus Christ "the skies opened, and he saw, the spirit of God descending onto him as a dove “ (Matthieu, III, 16). In art, objects are dove-shaped (Eucharistic doves), being tabernacles (with small chains) filled with consecrated hosts and suspended above the church's altar. The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit—“the spirit of wisdomand understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge, ofgodliness, and the fear of the Lord” (Isa. 11:2)—are personified by sevendovesin medieval art.

Luke 3:22 - “And the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

Early Christians often had a dove on their tombs as a symbol of the peace and happiness of the soul.

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In Gospels, it embodies the Holy Ghost orHolySpirit(John1:32).Twelvedoves symbolize the Twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit—“charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, long suffering, mildness,faith, modesty, chastity” (Gal. 5:22-23).A dove pecking at bread or drinking from a fountain representsthesoulfedbytheEucharist.


The Chi-Rho is a combination of the Greek letterchi(X) andrho(P), which are the first two letters of the Greek word for “Christ,” when put together represent “Jesus”. This symbol was commonly known in ancient Christianity and was used by the Roman emperor Constantine I (306-337 AD) as vexillum (named Labarum). The symbol is often accompanied by letters Alpha and Omega.

The Bible says thatJesussaid “I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end”.

See also:

How The Strange Dream Of Roman Emperor Constantine Changed History


The rose has been a common Christian symbol since the 1200s. It is also an important Catholic symbol. For Catholics, this flower represents a symbol of the rosary, which is used by Catholics during prayer.

The rose is related to Jesus Christ’s life and is also linked with the veneration of Jesus Christ's mother, Mary. The rose’s five petals symbolize all five of Christ’s wounds from the crucifixion. The red rose means martyrdom and Jesus’ sacrificial blood whilea white rose is associated with the Virgin Mary and means purity. The flower also represent the ‘Messianic promise’ (multiple predictions in the Old Testament regarding the coming of Messiah), the nativity of Jesus Christ.

In Medieval times, among the many titles given to the Virgin Mary, there is "Santa Maria della Rosa". The rose, often seen with in her hand, has been consecrated to her. Dante wrote: “Here is the Rose, Wherein the Word Divine was made incarnate.”

9.Christian Cross

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The Christian cross represents at once the death of Jesus Christ and his resurrection.

The symbol reminds us Christian believers of suffering and hope as well. The empty cross usually favored by Protestants, reminds Christians of the resurrection, while the crucifix (with the body of Jesus on it), favored by Catholic and Orthodox churches, is a reminder of Christ's sacrifice. The crucifix represents the central point of the Catholic belief that Christ died on the cross to redeem humanity.

Luke 9:23 says: Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

See also:10 Types Of Ancient Crosses In Different Cultures Explained


The Christian Rosary (in Latin: ‘a garland of roses’) presents the devotee with a structure for prayer. The name of this Christian object is related to the Virgin Mary and her purity. The Rosary helps to count the number of read “Ave Maria”.

To Catholics, the Rosary is a remedy against severe trials, diverse temptations and the sufferings of life, and that the Rosary is one of the great weapons given to believers in their battle against every evil that surrounds us.

Saints and popes have always emphasized that the Rosary is crucial for meditation and taught how the rosary should be prayed, especially regarding respect, reverence and purity of intention during Rosary recitations.

Praying the Rosary is considered as a sort of penance after confession. Penance is usually generally intended as encourage to meditation and spiritual growth and NOT a “punishment" due to the sins committed in the past.

Written by– A. Sutherland AncientPages.com SeniorStaff Writer

Copyright © AncientPages.comAll rights reserved. This material may not bepublished, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of AncientPages.com

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What is the ancient Christian symbol? ›

The original symbol of the early Christians was not the cross, but the monogram of Christ XP (first letters Chi and Rho of the Greek orthography ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ "Christ"). Moreover, at that time the followers of Jesus used a stylised fish as a secret sign to identify themselves as Christians.

What are the symbols of Christianity and their meanings? ›

The main symbol of Christianity is the cross; a symbol of the crucifixion of Jesus and his passion. In the Bible, Jesus walks with and carries the heavy cross a long way on his way to his crucifixion. In Christianity, Jesus is considered to have sacrificed himself and died for others' sins.

What symbols are used in Christianity? ›

The Crucifix / Cross

The main symbol of Christianity is the cross; a symbol of the crucifixion of Jesus and his passion. In the Bible, Jesus walks with and carries the heavy cross a long way on his way to his crucifixion. In Christianity, Jesus is considered to have sacrificed himself and died for others' sins.

What was the symbol of Christianity before the cross? ›

Today, the cross is the universal symbol of Christianity. It was not always so. In the early centuries after the time of Jesus Christ, there were other symbols: a dove, a ship, an anchor and a lyre. The best known of these early symbols is the fish.

What is the symbol for Jesus? ›

The most common, and easily recognisable, Christian symbol is the cross. This refers to the Christian belief that Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross to save mankind.

What are key religious symbols? ›

What are some examples of religious symbols?
  • Islam - Star and crescent.
  • Sikhism - Khanda.
  • Christianity - Christian cross.
  • Judaism - Star of David.
  • Hinduism - Om (or Swastika)
  • Buddhism - Wheel of Dharma.

What is the universal symbol of God? ›

The cross is a universal symbol for the Christian faith and a reminder of Christ's death and resurrection. There are many types of crosses that have been used throughout history, many having regional/ethnic origins.

What are the symbols of God? ›

Alpha and Omega: Represents God, the beginning and the end. Three interwoven circles: Represents the Trinity. A circle has no beginning or end, so it signifies the eternal nature of God. The interweaving of the three circles symbolizes the equality among God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

What is the symbol of the Holy Spirit? ›

The symbols of the Holy Spirit are: Dove, Fire, Oil, Wind and Water. The Dove: This can be seen in the description of the baptism of Christ (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:30-34).

What is Luke's symbol? ›

His symbol is the ox. This may account for his also being patron of butchers. In art, Luke is represented by a winged ox.

What is the symbol of faith in God? ›

cross, the principal symbol of the Christian religion, recalling the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the redeeming benefits of his Passion and death. The cross is thus a sign both of Christ himself and of the faith of Christians.

What is Matthew's symbol? ›

A winged man, or angel, came to represent St Matthew, because his book opens with the human descendants of Jesus [folio 16v].

What does 153 mean in the Bible? ›

The number 153 occurs only once in the Old Testament. Actually, it is the number 153000, which was the number of constructors of the first temple when Solomon was king. The number is not precise, one reading gives 153600, another the value 153200, etc. But it is always around 153000.

What are the Hebrew symbols for God? ›

The Tetragrammaton (/ˌtɛtrəˈɡræmətɒn/; from Ancient Greek τετραγράμματον (tetragrámmaton) '[consisting of] four letters'), or the Tetragram, is the four-letter Hebrew theonym יהוה‎ (transliterated as YHWH), the name of God in the Hebrew Bible.

What is the symbol of light in the Bible? ›

In the Bible, light has always been a symbol of holiness, goodness, knowledge, wisdom, grace, hope, and God's revelation. By contrast, darkness has been associated with evil, sin, and despair.

What are the 10 types of religion? ›

Major religious groups
  • Christianity (31.2%)
  • Islam (24.1%)
  • Irreligion (16%)
  • Hinduism (15.1%)
  • Buddhism (6.9%)
  • Folk religions (5.7%)
  • Sikhism (0.3%)
  • Judaism (0.2%)

What is the oldest religious symbol? ›

The oldest-known ouroboros appeared on a golden shrine in the tomb of Tutankhamen – 'King Tut' – in Egypt in the 13th Century BC, after a brief lull in traditional religion brought about by his predecessor, Akhenaten.

What are the 12 major religions of the world in order? ›

The world's faithful account for 83% of the global population; the great majority of these fall under twelve classical religions–Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism.

What are the 4 religious symbols? ›

What are some examples of religious symbols?
  • Islam - Star and crescent.
  • Sikhism - Khanda.
  • Christianity - Christian cross.
  • Judaism - Star of David.
  • Hinduism - Om (or Swastika)
  • Buddhism - Wheel of Dharma.

What are the 6 main religions symbols? ›

Some examples are:
  • Islam - Star and crescent.
  • Sikhism - Khanda.
  • Christianity - Christian cross.
  • Judaism - Star of David.
  • Hinduism - Om (or Swastika)
  • Buddhism - Wheel of Dharma.


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