Symbols in Catholic Church and their meaning

Symbols in Catholic Church and their meaning

Getting into the church, one of the things you will notice are the drawings on the walls and on the vessels and sacramental used in the church .

These are the symbols used in the church which represents different sacred belief and doctrines in the church .Human beings depends on sight to grow more in knowledge which is why the symbols helps us to remember and improves our knowledge concerning our doctrines

List of Catholic symbols and their meaning

1. Crucifix

Symbols in Catholic Church and their meaning

The crucifix is a cross with the figure of the body of Jesus Christ attached to it. This is a very common Catholic symbol that is often placed on or above the altar where the Eucharist is celebrated.

What Is the Meaning of the Crucifix?

The crucifix is a symbol of sacrifice and atonement, since, according to the Bible, Jesus died for the sins of the world. His crucifixion and his death soaked up systematic injustice, personal evil, violence and other wrongs, and continue to do so for Catholics everywhere.

Unlike other Christian denominations, which use only the cross, the crucifix is a powerful symbol of Catholicism, representing the focal point of the Catholic belief: that Jesus died on the cross to redeem humanity.

What Do the Letters “INRI” Stand for on the Cross?

A crucifix often has the letters “INRI” carved into the wood of the cross. These letters are short for the Latin phrase, “Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum,” which translates to “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

These are the words which Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea who sentenced Jesus to death, ordered to be written on the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.

2. Alpha and Omega

Symbols in Catholic Church and their meaning

Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. They are used at various times in the Church liturgical year. The alpha and omega have been used by Catholics since the fourth century as symbols expressing the confidence of orthodox Christians in the scriptural proofs of God.

What Is the Meaning of Alpha and Omega?

In the book of revelation 22:13, Christ refers to himself as the alpha and the omega. That is, the first and the last. These two letters symbolize the fact that Christ is the beginning and the end of all creation.

3. The Cross

Symbols in Catholic Church and their meaning

The most famous and widespread Christian symbol is the cross. It is found wherever there is a Christian presence. In Roman times, the cross was an instrument of torture and public humiliation, and criminals were put to death on crosses.

What Is the Meaning of the Cross?

For Christians, the cross has become a symbol not only of Jesus’ death, but also of his resurrection. While the cross has been around long before the advent of Christianity, the Easter story (that is, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ) has made the cross one of the most recognized icons in the world. The cross symbolizes sacrifice, suffering, repentance, solidarity, and exclusion. These are only a few ways to interpret the cross. Every Catholic applies their own significance to this perennial symbol.

4. The Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart

In Catholic art, the Sacred Heart is usually depicted as a flaming heart. It is also usually shining with divine light, pierced (presumably from a lance), encircled by a crown of thorns, surmounted by a cross, and bleeding. Sometimes it is shown in the bosom of Jesus Christ. The wound, thorns, and blood represent Jesus’ crucifixion, and the flames represent the transformative power of divine love.

What Is the Meaning of the Sacred Heart?

The Sacred Heart represents Jesus’ physical heart and represents divine love. It is a devotional of Catholics everywhere and encapsulates the message of Jesus’ long-suffering love and passion towards humanity. On its own, the heart is a symbol of love. But the Sacred Heart, pierced and wrapped in thorns, shows the depth of Jesus’ love. It indicates that he was prepared to suffer and die for all people, and that his love is eternal.

5. IHS and Chi-Rho

IHS monogram at the top of the main altar at Gesù in Rome, Italy.

The letters IHS often appear on liturgical items, building plaques, gravestones, and sacred vessels. IHS is a shortened form of the Greek word for Jesus, which is “IHΣΟΥΣ.”

The letters X and P are often used as another symbol for Christ. The first two letters of Christ’s name in Greek are X and P. In the Greek alphabet, X equals “CH,” and P equals “R.” Also known as the Chi-RhO cross, the letters are usually inscribed one over the other and are sometimes enclosed within a circle, becoming both a cosmic and a solar symbol.

6. The Fish

The fish symbol on a rock.

The fish symbol on a rock.

One of the oldest Christian symbols is the fish. It was used by Christians to identify themselves and each other, often in times of persecution. It is often found in the Roman catacombs, a secret meeting place during the time when the Christians were persecuted for their faith by the Romans.

What Is the Meaning of the Fish?

The fish is based on an acrostic of the initial letters of the Greek words for Jesus Christ. To understand this symbol, you need to know the meaning of the acronym. The Greek word for fish is “Ichthus,” which is also an acronym for Jesus. The Latin, “Iesous CHristos THeou Uios Soter” translates in English to, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour

7.The Dove

Symbols in Catholic Church and their meaning

A dove is often used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, because it is recorded in all four gospels that the Holy Spirit descended at the Baptism of Jesus in the form of a dove. It is also fitting that a dove be used to symbolize the Holy Spirit because it is often represented as pure and innocent, just as the Holy Spirit is spotless and pure.

8.The lamb

Symbols in Catholic Church and their meaning

The lamb of God receives its origin in the gospel of John, when John the Baptist sees Christ and calls Him the Lamb of God. The lamb is an excellent metaphor for Christ, because a lamb is pure and innocent, and yet in the Old Testament it was sacrificed as an offering to God. In the New Testament, Christ, likewise pure and innocent, sacrifices Himself to God for the redemption of all men from their sins. The lamb is often pictured with a banner with a cross, as a further reminder of the ultimate sacrifice which this lamb of God made.

9.The crossed key

Crossed keys

These two crossed keys are a symbol of the papacy. This is because Christ gave the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to Peter, the first pope. Ever since then, keys have been seen as the symbol of the papacy. The pope holds the figurative keys to the church and is its leader and guide. These two, crossed keys are part of the flag of Vatican City and the official Vatican emblems.

10.Lily/Fleur de Lis


In one interpretation, the flower is a symbol of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. The whiteness and beauty of the lily is symbolic of the purity of Mary Immaculate.

In another interpretation, the lily depicts the Holy Trinity, which consists of the Father (God), the son (Jesus Christ), and the holy spirit–or one God in three divine persons. The band which hold the three pedals together represents Mary, since it was she who bore the child of God.


Symbols in Catholic Church and their meaning

The triquetra represents the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is used to form the Carolingian Cross pictured above and is a form of Celtic knot work (source). It is sometimes shown with an interlocking circle, as well, as shown below.

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