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Behind the Symbols

Posted by St. Jude Shop on

At St. Jude Shop, you will find an extensive array of goods and articles designed specially for believers and churches around the world. From baptism mementos to clergy apparel, we are sure to have something you will love and treasure for years to come. You have likely noticed that certain symbols repeat on our merchandise and throughout our site. You’ve probably also noticed that these are the same symbols you see in stained glass windows, stone reliefs, and other decor inside your church. That is because these are symbols that represent certain facets of Christianity, and many of them have a history extending back to the time of the apostles themselves.

The Chi Rho

The chi rho is a common symbol throughout the Christian church. It is made up of the Greek letters “chi” (X) and “rho” (P), the first two letters in the Greek word Khristos, or Christ. The two letters are superimposed over one another to form a monogram. The Roman emperor Constantine is most often credited with the spread of the symbol. The story goes that on the eve of battle, Constantine had a vision of the symbol in a dream and heard a voice say to him “In this sign, you shall conquer.” Constantine had the symbol painted onto his soldiers’ shields, and at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, they were victorious. Afterward, the symbol become an official part of Roman military standards.

The Ichthys

The ichthys fish is perhaps one of the most well-known Christian symbol, and it too has roots in the early days of the Christian church. Many scholars suggest that the ichthys fish represents the Greek words in the phrase “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Our Savior.” Early Christians, seeking to communicate with one another and gather together without bringing the ire of the Roman empire down upon them, would draw the ichthys on walls as a signal. It identified fellow believers and also safe gathering spaces. The symbol of a fish wasn’t unknown in Roman society, and had pagan connotations as well. This meant that the ichthys wouldn’t draw unwanted attention the same way another symbol might.

The Pelican

Bestiaries became incredibly popular in medieval Europe. Books detailing animals like a modern encyclopedia might began to circulate among the literate people of the age. Unlike modern encyclopedias, the information about the animals in the bestiaries were based primarily upon observation and superstition. The pelican was one of the animals often included in these books, and were believed to be so attentive to their young that they would wound themselves and feed sustain their young with their own blood when food was scarce. This became a symbol of the passion of Christ who poured out his blood for the forgiveness of humanity’s sins.

Gentle Reminders

The symbols of Christianity don’t have any power in and of themselves. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t serve a valuable purpose: They remind us of the love and power of the Divine. That is what we offer at St. Jude Shop. We have high-quality products the serve the Church as a reminder of who we serve and what He has done for us. Browse our selection today. We know you’ll find something that resonates in your life.

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