Parish Hall Symbols
original third church building, explicit Christian symbolism was chiefly
manifested on the exterior, as seen in the Greek and Latin crosses on the
entrance gable. It remained
for the 1937 remodeling to display significant interior symbols.
This overt use of symbolism continued on the exterior of the 1953
Parish Hall addition, in part with the medallions arrayed across its front
wall. Many of these have Old
Testament origins, but all have at least some reference to the Gospel.
An Anchor has
long represented steadfastness and hope in Christ.
The specific citation is in Hebrews 6:19-20, “We
have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the
inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has
entered on our behalf…”
are common in such symbolism. This
small representation of Noah on the
We see Jonah, clearly
frightened of the Great Fish (depicted inaccurately here as a whale).
Since he is swimming, we may assume this is before he was swallowed
– when he was expelled from the fish, it was onto dry land.
However, Christ himself gives us the metaphor for this symbol.
“For as Jonah was three days and
three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three
days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
(Mattew 12:40) His
reference is to the time between His Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Harp may, at first glance, appear to have only Old Testament meaning.
It is a traditional symbol for David and for the many Psalms he
wrote. Here, we count ten
strings on the Harp – which
descending Dove is a familiar and ubiquitous signifier of the Holy Spirit.
The origin is John’s testimony concerning the baptism of Jesus in
his Gospel Chapter 1 Verse 32:
" I saw the Spirit come down
from heaven as a dove and remain on him."
A similar reference is in Matthew 3:16.
Fleur-de-lis has a number of symbolic connections.
Often, the three leaves are associated with the Trinity.
It is also connected with purity and, by extension, the Virgin Mary
as well as the Annunciation. This
association is also carried sometimes to denote the human nature of
the Fleur-de-lis carries positive connotations, the Thistle can be seen
negatively as well as positively. Chiefly,
it calls to mind the Fall of Man and the cursed ground:
“It will produce thorns and thistles for you…” Genesis 3:18.
As it is a thorny plant, the thistle also calls to mind the Passion
of Christ and His crown of thorns. In
a happier vein, it symbolizes
most common association with the Star is with Christ’s birth and the
guidance given to the Magi. More
generally, stars symbolize divine guidance or favor.
This particular four-pointed example is sometimes called the Cross
Etoile or Star Cross. The
roughly equal point length relates it to the Greek Cross.
In a subtle way, then, this symbol relates to both the birth and
death of Christ.
Christ is called the Bread of Life. Two
medallions feature loaves of bread. In
one, a Loaf is paired with a cup or Chalice, clearly pointing toward the
Last Supper and our Sacrament initiated there, the Lord’s Supper.
These two also represent Melchizidek, the Old Testament Priest and
King who is seen to prefigure Christ. Stretching the imagery
just a bit, we can see here a baptismal font. The octagonal base is
a traditional shape for such a vessel. Fonts also often have a
wave-like pattern, as here. The shape interpreted above as a loaf of
bread, might represent the cover of the font. If this is the case,
the medallion would symbolize both sacraments.
Stretching the imagery just a bit, we can see here a baptismal font. The octagonal base is a traditional shape for such a vessel. Fonts also often have a wave-like pattern, as here. The shape interpreted above as a loaf of bread, might represent the cover of the font. If this is the case, the medallion would symbolize both sacraments.
second medallion, loaves are joined to fishes.
While this is a specific symbol of Saint Jude, in this context, the
Loaves and Fishes most likely reference is to Jesus feeding the multitude.
Thereby it celebrates His miraculous power as well a God’s
gracious providence. Each loaf
is marked with a cross. The
vessel that contains them has a cross-hatch pattern, identifying it as a
basket – further tying the symbol to the feeding of the thousands.
Saltire is a word that means crossed. Here we see Keys Saltire which is commonly symbolic of Saint Peter. The keys emblemize the authority of the Church, given by Christ through Peter. In Roman Catholic context the keys represent Confession and Absolution or Excommunication and Restoration. These are unlikely references in a church of the Reformed tradition, such as Shadyside.