5 Catholic Symbols and Their Meanings:
- The Sacred Heart
- Alpha and Omega
- The Cross
- The Dove
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 go ahead to do so for Catholics everywhere.
Unlike other Christian denominations, which use only the cross, the crucifix is a powerful symbol of Catholicism, showing 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 means “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. The Sacred Heart
In Catholic art, the Sacred Heart is usually depicted as a flaming heart. It is also always 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 shows the transformative power of divine love.
What Is the Meaning of the Sacred Heart?
The Sacred Heart represents Jesus’ physical heart and stands for 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 shows that he was prepared to suffer and die for all people, and that his love is eternal.
3. Alpha and Omega
Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. They are used at different times in the Church liturgical year. The alpha and omega have been used by Catholics since the fourth century as symbols showing 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 express the fact that Christ is the start and the finish of all creation.
4. The Cross
The most popular 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 relevance to this perennial symbol.
5. The Dove
The dove is a white bird often depicted in the Catholic Church as flying gracefully before a shining aura of light.Oftentimes, the dove is carrying an olive branch in its beak.
What Is the Meaning of the Dove?
The dove is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. When Christ was baptized by John the Baptist, a dove descended on him, from the book of Matthew 3:16 and Mark 1:10. The dove is sometimes depicted with an olive branch in its mouth as a symbol of peace. It also shows God’s grace.
Can you recall in Noah’s story, when he sent out a dove to search for dry land after the rain stopped? It returned carrying an olive branch from the Mount of Olives, which was a sign and symbol of God’s forgiveness.