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Christian Symbols

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Medieval symbolism (colours, bestiary, etc..)

Middle Ages Images (how to read them, by Chiara Frugoni)

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Li reis Marsilie esteit en Sarraguce.
Alez en est en un verger suz l'umbre;
Sur un perrun de marbre bloi se culchet,
Envirun lui plus de vint milie humes.
Il en apelet e ses dux e ses cuntes:

«Oëz, seignurs, quel pecchet nus encumbret:
Li emper[er]es Carles de France dulce
En cest païs nos est venuz cunfundre.
Jo nen ai ost qui bataille li dunne,
Ne n'ai tel gent ki la sue derumpet.

Cunseilez mei cume mi savie hume,
Si m(e) guarisez e de mort et de hunte.»
N'i ad paien ki un sul mot respundet,
Fors Blancandrins de Castel de Valfunde.

(la Chanson de Roland ca. 1090)

Chi and Rho

christian symbol chi and rho

Chi and Rho are first two letters of the Greek word for Christ and are one of the oldest Christian symbols

A very famous image is in the Book of Kells, of Irish origin (IX century)

christian symbols the chi and rho in the book of kells
The Chi and Rhos symbol in the book of Kells (ca. 800 AD)


The Four Evangelists

Mark = The Lion, because its Gosple starts with John the Baptist who roars in nthe desert

Luke = Ox, because of its sweetness and meekness (like the ox, an animal for sacriffice)

Matthew = angel or man; because its Gospel starts with the list of the human descendants of Jesus

John = eagle; because his Gospel start with a pull towards a supernatural insight. God is symbolized as an eagle in many biblical verses (e.g Ezechiel, 17:3)





christian symbols the lion of st markThe Lion = Mark; because its Gospels start with John the Baptist who roars like a lion in the desert. The picture is from the clock in Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy. Venice has San Marco has its patron and symbol for the city.
christian symbols luke the ox
Luke, the ox. Thame Parish Church, Oxfordshire, England
christian symbols Matthew the man or angelMatthew, the Man or Angel; Keble College Chapel, Oxford
christian symbols John the Eagle
John the Eagle; Keble College Chapel, Oxford






christian symbol fish: initial of the Greek phrase "Jesus Christ Son of God"
When to be a Christian was an illegal and dangerous affair, believers used to create coded "marks" such as the drawing of a fish to recognize each other. I made this symbol (far from perfect) in Adobe Illustrator CS4. You can download the vector file here.

From the Greek word for fish "Ichtys" (latinized in "Ichtus"). The Initials were used to mean Jesus Christ S



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