Many religions use symbols and many of them are common to several religions. SYMBOLS Immediately after the cross, the most widely used Christian symbol is the fish. In ancient Greek, the word ‘fish’ is composed of the initial letters of words meaning Jesus, Son of God, and Saviour in the same language. The New Testament tells how Jesus calls to some fishermen by the Sea of Galilee to follow Him, saying,
“I will make you fishers of men”. Wine made from grapes represents the blood of Christ and bread symbolizes His body. Grapes were also a symbol in the services of Dionysius or Bacchus of the ancient world.
The dove symbolises peace, fertility, purity, love, innocence and the Holy Ghost.
In Taoism, the deer represents long life and good fortune and in Christianity it symbolises eternal life and the soul of one who has drunk from the Fountain of Life and been cured.
In Christianity the cock is the symbol of wakefulness, daybreak and prophecy. The white cock is held to bring good fortune, while the black represents evil. It is believed that the crowing of the cock drives away evil spirits, and for this reason the figure of a cock is placed on the spires of many churches. The cock also plays a part in the Gospel story. Jesus predicted the exact time when the cock would crow, after Peter had denied Him three times.
The peacock symbolizes Doomsday, the Resurrection of Christ and Christ encompassed in radiance. In India and in ancient Greece the peacock is sacred.
In Christianity the lion is the symbol of victory and salvation, the rabbit of sexuality, the devil and magic spells, the palm tree of everlasting life and vital energy, an extension of the Tree of Life of eastern cultures.
In Jewish, Christian and Muslim tradition, the snake epitomizes the Devil and is blamed for the temptation and downfall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Various mythologies are full of different stories of snakes. In the legends of the Sumerians, the Hittites, the Egyptians, the Scandinavians and the Slavs, in ancient Greece and Rome, countless stories about snakes are told.
The pelican is also an important Christian symbol. According to one version of the story it becomes angry with its young, devours them and then regrets its action so much that it tears open its own breast with its beak. The blood then brings the young back to life. This is thought to represent Christ’s sacrifice, when He shed His blood so that all may share in His resurrection, particularly those who drink wine as His blood during the service of Holy Communion.
The banner bearing a red cross on a white ground symbolizes resurrection and is often flown from churches on Sunday. It is also the flag of St. George, patron saint of England.
Cherubim and Seraphim Cherubim, thought of as attending the heavenly throne or guarding especially holy places, are hybrid beings having bird-wings, and human, or animal faces. Cherubim, originating from both early Middle Eastern mythology and iconography carry out important functions as intercessors in the hierarchy of angels. In the Old Testament, cherubim are accorded supernatural agility rather than intercessional propensities, and are thought to have undertaken the duty of upholding the Throne of God. In Christian belief seraphim are regarded as the highest among angels, servants of God in heaven who continually praise him. In Muslim belief, cherubim and seraphim dwell on a level of paradise which Satan cannot penetrate and offer constant prayers of thanks to God.