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A space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith
“A huge resource to treasure.”
Lat Blaylock, Editor, RE Today

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Christian Symbols

What do the Christian symbols mean?

We live in a world full of symbols, whether it’s a logo on a car or coat, or a picture on a door telling us where to find the toilet! A symbol is something that makes us think about something else – either as a personal reminder or as a sign to others to express a particular identity. For two thousand years, Christians have used them to speak about what they believe.

A crucifix necklace is very popular with Christians. They may wear a crucifix to remember Jesus. An empty cross reminds them that Jesus did not stay on the cross but came back to life.
The fish is a very old symbol. In the Greek language the first letters of the words "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Saviour" spell “icthus”, which means fish. Today, Christians may wear a fish badge, or put it on their car.
A dove was seen at Jesus' baptism. It is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, who Christians believe lives with them and helps them.
The Holy Spirit came to Jesus' friends looking like flames of fire. Flames are another symbol of the Holy Spirit.
Candles have always been used to bring light to dark places. They are often used in worship as a sign that Jesus is "the light of the world".
Bread and Wine
In communion, the bread and wine have special meanings. Christians break up some bread to remember that Jesus' body was 'broken' by his death on the cross. Christians drink red wine to remember that Jesus bled when he died in order to bring peace between God and people.
Water is an important symbol. Jesus talks about God’s Spirit being like water that gives people life. When water is used in baptism it symbolises how people have become 'clean' – that is, forgiven by God.
The anchor is a disguised cross. It reminds Christians that God keeps us safe – especially in the storms of life.
Shepherd's Crook
A Bishop carries a crosier. It is shaped like a shepherd's crook. It shows that he is like a shepherd, looking after his flock.
The rainbow is a symbol of God's promises to us. After the flood God put a rainbow in the sky as a sign to Noah that He would never flood the earth again.