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BOTTLE OF OINTMENT (Perfume, Spices) – 1. A symbol of the burial of Jesus. The event of Mary bringing spices to anoint Jesus’ body is found in Mark 16:1.

BOOK (Codex) – 1. A single book represents the Holy Word of God. 2. If the book is held by one of the four evangelists, it symbolizes the book(s) he wrote (i.e. A book in Matthew’s hand would symbolize the book of Matthew.) 3. If the book is in the hands of an apostle, it can represent his learning and/or being a teacher of the Christian faith. If both evangelists and apostles/ disciples are shown, the evangelists will carry the books and the apostles/disciples will carry scrolls. 4. Books in the hands of saints show they where well educated in the Scriptures.

BOW – A symbol of war.

BREAD – 1. Bread is the sustenance of life. Jesus Himself said, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). Therefore, bread makes an excellent symbol of life. 2. Bread was used at the Last Supper when Jesus broke the bread and said, “This is my body, broken for you…”(Luke 22:19). In this context the bread, usually shown with a chalice or bunch of grapes, represents the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist).

BRICKS – Bricks with a whip represent the Israelites’ bondage in Egypt.


BRIDLE (Bit) – A symbol of self-control; the ability to refrain from certain activities and actions.

CABLE – A symbol of strength.

CAGED BIRD – 1. Jesus, the Son of His infinite Father in Heaven, limited Himself to a human form. The caged bird therefore symbolizes this Incarnation. Images of caged birds have been found dating back to the fourth century on tombs in the catacombs in Rome. 2. The cage symbolizes the body and the bird symbolizes the human soul. 3. A bird being released from the cage is the soul departing the body and leaving for Heaven.

CAULDRON OF OIL – A symbol of John the Apostle. Tradition tells us John was cast into a caldron of boiling oil yet remained alive and unharmed.

CHAINS (Fetters) – 1. A symbol of the Passion of our Lord. 2. A symbol of martyrdom. 3. A symbol of the power of Satan. 4. Broken chains symbolize overcoming sin.

CITY ON A HILL – A symbol of the church, being both prominently seen in the community as well as bringing stability to it. The term is taken from Jesus’ own teaching about being a city on a hill in Matthew 5:14-16.

CLOAK – A symbol of charity and righteousness


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© 2016 By Doug Gray. All Rights Reserved.