Christian Symbols

A thorough investigation of this subject would require a volume,

therefore, as we can devote but a chapter to it, it must necessarily be

treated somewhat slightingly.

The first of the Christian Symbols which we shall notice is the CROSS.

Overwhelming historical facts show that the cross was used, as a

religious emblem, many centuries before the Christian era, by every

nation in the world. Bi
hop Colenso, speaking on this subject, says:--

"From the dawn of organized Paganism in the Eastern world, to

the final establishment of Christianity in the West, the cross

was undoubtedly one of the commonest and most sacred of

symbolical monuments. Apart from any distinctions of social or

intellectual superiority, of caste, color, nationality, or

location in either hemisphere, it appears to have been the

aboriginal possession of every people in antiquity.

"Diversified forms of the symbol are delineated more or less

artistically, according to the progress achieved in

civilization at the period, on the ruined walls of temples and

palaces, on natural rocks and sepulchral galleries, on the

hoariest monoliths and the rudest statuary; on coins, medals,

and vases of every description; and in not a few instances,

are preserved in the architectural proportions of subterranean

as well as superterranean structures of tumuli, as well as


"Populations of essentially different culture, tastes, and

pursuits--the highly-civilized and the semi-civilized, the

settled and the nomadic--vied with each other in their

superstitious adoration of it, and in their efforts to

extend the knowledge of its exceptional import and virtue

amongst their latest posterities.

"Of the several varieties of the cross still in vogue, as

national and ecclesiastical emblems, and distinguished by the

familiar appellations of St. George, St. Andrew, the Maltese,

the Greek, the Latin, &c., &c., there is not one amongst

them, the existence of which may not be traced to the remotest

antiquity. They were the common property of the Eastern


"That each known variety has been derived from a common

source, and is emblematical of one and the same truth may be

inferred from the fact of forms identically the same, whether

simple or complex, cropping out in contrary directions, in the

Western as well as the Eastern hemisphere."[339:1]

The cross has been adored in India from time immemorial, and was a

symbol of mysterious significance in Brahmanical iconography. It was the

symbol of the Hindoo god Agni, the "Light of the World."[340:1]

In the Cave of Elephanta, over the head of the figure represented as

destroying the infants, whence the story of Herod and the infants of

Bethlehem (which was unknown to all the Jewish, Roman, and Grecian

historians) took its origin, may be seen the Mitre, the Crosier, and the


It is placed by Mueller in the hand of Siva, Brahma, Vishnu, Crishna,

Tvashtri and Jama. To it the worshipers of Vishnu attribute as many

virtues as does the devout Catholic to the Christian cross.[340:3] Fra

Paolino tells us it was used by the ancient kings of India as a


Two of the principal pagodas of India--Benares and Mathura--were erected

in the forms of vast crosses.[340:5] The pagoda at Mathura was sacred to

the memory of the Virgin-born and crucified Saviour Crishna.[340:6]

The cross has been an object of profound veneration among the Buddhists

from the earliest times. One is the sacred Swastica (Fig. No. 21). It is

seen in the old Buddhist Zodiacs, and is one of the symbols in the Asoka

inscriptions. It is the sectarian mark of the Jains, and the distinctive

badge of the sect of Xaca Japonicus. The Vaishnavas of India have also

the same sacred sign.[340:7] And, according to Arthur Lillie,[340:8]

"the only Christian cross in the catacombs is this Buddhist Swastica."

The cross is adored by the followers of the Lama of Thibet.[340:9] Fig.

No. 22 is a representation of the most familiar form of Buddhist cross.

The close resemblance between the ancient religion of Thibet and that

of the Christians has been noticed by many European travellers and

missionaries, among whom may be mentioned Pere Grebillon, Pere Grueber,

Horace de la Paon, D'Orville, and M. L'Abbe Huc. The Buddhists, and

indeed all the sects of India, marked their followers on the head with

the sign of the cross.[341:1] This was undoubtedly practiced by almost

all heathen nations, as we have seen in the chapter on the Eucharist

that the initiates into the Heathen mysteries were marked in that


The ancient Egyptians adored the cross with the profoundest

veneration. This sacred symbol is to be found on many of their ancient

monuments, some of which may be seen at the present day in the British

Museum.[341:2] In the museum of the London University, a cross upon a

Calvary is to be seen upon the breast of one of the Egyptian

mummies.[341:3] Many of the Egyptian images hold a cross in their hand.

There is one now extant of the Egyptian Saviour Horus holding a cross in

his hand,[341:4] and he is represented as an infant sitting on his

mother's knee, with a cross on the back of the seat they occupy.[341:5]

The commonest of all the Egyptian crosses, the CRUX ANSATA (Fig. No. 23)

was adopted by the Christians. Thus, beside one of the Christian

inscriptions at Phile (a celebrated island lying in the midst of the

Nile) is seen both a Maltese cross and a crux ansata.[341:6] In a

painting covering the end of a church in the cemetery of El Khargeh, in

the Great Oasis, are three of these crosses round the principal subject,

which seems to have been a figure of a saint.[341:7] In an inscription

in a Christian church to the east of the Nile, in the desert, these

crosses are also to be seen. Beside, or in the hand of, the Egyptian

gods, this symbol is generally to be seen. When the Saviour Osiris is

represented holding out the crux ansata to a mortal, it signifies that

the person to whom he presents it has put off mortality, and entered on

the life to come.[341:8]

The Greek cross, and the cross of St. Anthony, are also found on

Egyptian monuments. A figure of a Shari (Fig. No. 24), from Sir Gardner

Wilkinson's book, has a necklace round his throat, from which depends a

pectoral cross. A third Egyptian cross is that represented in Fig. No.

25, which is apparently intended for a Latin cross rising out of a

heart, like the mediaeval emblem of "Cor in Cruce, Crux in Corde:" it

is the hieroglyph of goodness.[342:1]

It is related by the ecclesiastical historians Socrates and Sozomon,

that when the temple of Serapis, at Alexandria, in Egypt, was demolished

by one of the Christian emperors, beneath the foundation was discovered

a cross. The words of Socrates are as follows:

"In the temple of Serapis, now overthrown and rifled

throughout, there were found engraven in the stones certain

letters . . . resembling the form of the cross. The which when

both Christians and Ethnics beheld, every one applied to his

proper religion. The Christians affirmed that the cross was a

sign or token of the passion of Christ, and the proper

cognizance of their profession. The Ethnics avouched that

therein was contained something in common, belonging as well

to Serapis as to Christ."[342:2]

It should be remembered, in connection with this, that the Emperor

Hadrian saw no difference between the worshipers of Serapis and the

worshipers of Christ Jesus. In a letter to the Consul Servanus he says:

"There are there (in Egypt) Christians who worship

Serapis, and devoted to Serapis are those who call

themselves 'Bishops of Christ.'"[342:3]

The ancient Egyptians were in the habit of putting a cross on their

sacred cakes, just as the Christians of the present day do on Good

Friday.[342:4] The plan of the chamber of some Egyptian sepulchres has

the form of a cross,[342:5] and the cross was worn by Egyptian ladies as

an ornament, in precisely the same manner as Christian ladies wear it at

the present day.[342:6]

The ancient Babylonians honored the cross as a religious symbol. It is

to be found on their oldest monuments. Anu, a deity who stood at the

head of the Babylonian mythology, had a cross for his sign or

symbol.[343:1] It is also the symbol of the Babylonian god Bal.[343:2] A

cross hangs on the breast of Tiglath Pileser, in the colossal tablet

from Nimroud, now in the British Museum. Another king, from the ruins of

Ninevah, wears a Maltese cross on his bosom. And another, from the hall

of Nisroch, carries an emblematic necklace, to which a Maltese cross is

attached.[343:3] The most common of crosses, the crux ansata (Fig. No.

21) was also a sacred symbol among the Babylonians. It occurs repeatedly

on their cylinders, bricks and gems.[343:4]

The ensigns and standards carried by the Persians during their wars with

Alexander the Great (B. C. 335), were made in the form of a cross--as we

shall presently see was the style of the ancient Roman standards--and

representations of these cross-standards have been handed down to the

present day.

Sir Robert Ker Porter, in his very valuable work entitled: "Travels in

Georgia, Persia, Armenia, and Ancient Babylonia,"[343:5] shows the

representation of a bas-relief, of very ancient antiquity, which he

found at Nashi-Roustam, or the Mountain of Sepulchres. It represents a

combat between two horsemen--Baharam-Gour, one of the old Persian kings,

and a Tartar prince. Baharam-Gour is in the act of charging his opponent

with a spear, and behind him, scarcely visible, appears an almost

effaced form, which must have been his standard-bearer, as the ensign

is very plainly to be seen. This ensign is a cross. There is another

representation of the same subject to be seen in a bas-relief, which

shows the standard-bearer and his cross ensign very plainly.[343:6]

This bas-relief belongs to a period when the Arsacedian kings governed

Persia,[343:7] which was within a century after the time of Alexander,

and consequently more than two centuries B. C.

Sir Robert also found at this place, sculptures cut in the solid rock,

which are in the form of crosses. These belong to the early race of

Persian monarchs, whose dynasty terminated under the sword of Alexander

the Great.[343:8] At the foot of Mount Nakshi-Rajab, he also found

bas-reliefs, among which were two figures carrying a cross-standard.

Fig. No. 26 is a representation of this.[343:9] It is coeval with the

sculptures found at Nashi-Roustam,[343:10] and therefore belongs to a

period before the time of Alexander's invasion.

The cross is represented frequently and prominently on the coins of

Asia Minor. Several have a ram or lamb on one side, and a cross on the

other.[344:1] On some of the early coins of the Phenicians, the cross is

found attached to a chaplet of beads placed in a circle, so as to form a

complete rosary, such as the Lamas of Thibet and China, the Hindoos, and

the Roman Catholics, now tell over while they pray.[344:2] On a

Phenician medal, found in the ruins of Citium, in Cyprus, and printed in

Dr. Clark's "Travels" (vol. ii. c. xi.), are engraved a cross, a rosary,

and a lamb.[344:3] This is the "Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of

the world."

The ancient Etruscans revered the cross as a religious emblem. This

sacred sign, accompanied with the heart, is to be seen on their

monuments. Fig. No. 27, taken from the work of Gorrio (Tab. xxxv.),

shows an ancient tomb with angels and the cross thereon. It would answer

perfectly for a Christian cemetery.

The cross was adored by the ancient Greeks and Romans for centuries

before the Augustan era. An ancient inscription in Thessaly is

accompanied by a Calvary cross (Fig. No. 28); and Greek crosses of equal

arms adorn the tomb of Midas (one of the ancient kings), in


The adoration of the cross by the Romans is spoken of by the Christian

Father Minucius Felix, when denying the charge of idolatry which was

made against his sect.

"As for the adoration of cross," (says he to the Romans),

"which you object against us, I must tell you that we neither

adore crosses nor desire them. You it is, ye Pagans, who

worship wooden gods, who are the most likely people to adore

wooden crosses, as being part of the same substance with your

deities. For what else are your ensigns, flags, and standards,

but crosses, gilt and beautiful. Your victorious trophies not

only represent a cross, but a cross with a man upon


The principal silver coin among the Romans, called the denarius, had

on one side a personification of Rome as a warrior with a helmet, and on

the reverse, a chariot drawn by four horses. The driver had a

cross-standard in one hand. This is a representation of a denarius of

the earliest kind, which was first coined 296 B. C.[345:2] The cross was

used on the roll of the Roman soldiery as the sign of life.[345:3]

But, long before the Romans, long before the Etruscans, there lived in

the plains of Northern Italy a people to whom the cross was a religious

symbol, the sign beneath which they laid their dead to rest; a people of

whom history tells nothing, knowing not their name; but of whom

antiquarian research has learned this, that they lived in ignorance of

the arts of civilization, that they dwelt in villages built on platforms

over lakes, and that they trusted to the cross to guard, and may be to

revive, their loved ones whom they committed to the dust.

The examination of the tombs of Golasecca proves, in a most convincing,

positive, and precise manner that which the terramares of Emilia had

only indicated, but which had been confirmed by the cemetery of

Villanova, that above a thousand years B. C., the cross was already a

religious emblem of frequent employment.[345:4]

"It is more than a coincidence," (says the Rev. S.

Baring-Gould), "that Osiris by the cross should give life

eternal to the spirits of the just; that with the cross Thor

should smite the head of the great Serpent, and bring to life

those who were slain; that beneath the cross the Muysca

mothers should lay their babes, trusting to that sign to

secure them from the power of evil spirits; that with that

symbol to protect them, the ancient people of Northern Italy

should lay them down in the dust."[345:5]

The cross was also found among the ruins of Pompeii.[345:6]

It was a sacred emblem among the ancient Scandinavians.

"It occurs" (says Mr. R. Payne Knight), "on many Runic

monuments found in Sweden and Denmark, which are of an age

long anterior to the approach of Christianity to those

countries, and, probably, to its appearance in the


Their god Thor, son of the Supreme god Odin, and the goddess Freyga, had

the hammer for his symbol. It was with this hammer that Thor crushed the

head of the great Mitgard serpent, that he destroyed the giants, that he

restored the dead goats to life, which drew his car, that he consecrated

the pyre of Baldur. This hammer was a cross.[346:2]

The cross of Thor is still used in Iceland as a magical sign in

connection with storms of wind and rain.

King Olaf, Longfellow tells us, when keeping Christmas at Drontheim:

"O'er his drinking-horn, the sign

He made of the Cross Divine,

And he drank, and mutter'd his prayers;

But the Berserks evermore

Made the sign of the hammer of Thor

Over theirs."

Actually, they both made the same symbol.

This we are told by Snorro Sturleson, in the Heimskringla (Saga iv. c.

18), when he describes the sacrifice at Lade, at which King Hakon,

Athelstan's foster-son, was present:

"Now when the first full goblet was filled, Earl Sigurd spoke

some words over it, and blessed it in Odin's name, and drank

to the king out of the horn; and the king then took it, and

made the sign of the cross over it. Then said Kaare of

Greyting, 'What does the king mean by doing so? will he not

sacrifice?' But Earl Sigurd replied, 'The King is doing what

all of you do who trust in your power and strength; for he is

blessing the full goblet in the name of Thor, by making the

sign of his hammer over it before he drinks it."[346:3]

The cross was also a sacred emblem among the Laplanders. "In solemn

sacrifices, all the Lapland idols were marked with it from the blood of

the victims."[346:4]

It was adored by the ancient Druids of Britain, and is to be seen on

the so-called "fire towers" of Ireland and Scotland. The "consecrated

trees" of the Druids had a cross beam attached to them, making the

figure of a cross. On several of the most curious and most ancient

monuments of Britain, the cross is to be seen, evidently cut thereon by

the Druids. Many large stones throughout Ireland have these Druid

crosses cut in them.[346:5]

Cleland observes, in his "Attempt to Revive Celtic Literature," that

the Druids taught the doctrine of an overruling providence, and the

immortality of the soul: that they had also their Lent, their Purgatory,

their Paradise, their Hell, their Sanctuaries, and the similitude of the

May-pole in form to the cross.[347:1]

"In the Island of I-com-kill, at the monastery of the Culdees, at the

time of the Reformation, there were three hundred and sixty

crosses."[347:2] The Caaba at Mecca was surrounded by three hundred and

sixty crosses.[347:3] This number has nothing whatever to do with

Christianity, but is to be found everywhere among the ancients. It

represents the number of days of the ancient year.[347:4]

When the Spanish missionaries first set foot upon the soil of America,

in the fifteenth century, they were amazed to find that the cross was

as devoutly worshiped by the red Indians as by themselves. The hallowed

symbol challenged their attention on every hand, and in almost every

variety of form. And, what is still more remarkable, the cross was not

only associated with other objects corresponding in every particular

with those delineated on Babylonian monuments; but it was also

distinguished by the Catholic appellations, "the tree of subsistence,"

"the wood of health," "the emblem of life," &c.[347:5]

When the Spanish missionaries found that the cross was no new object of

veneration to the red men, they were in doubt whether to ascribe the

fact to the pious labors of St. Thomas, whom they thought might have

found his way to America, or the sacrilegious subtlety of Satan. It was

the central object in the great temple of Cozamel, and is still

preserved on the bas-reliefs of the ruined city of Palenque. From time

immemorial it had received the prayers and sacrifices of the Aztecs and

Toltecs, and was suspended as an august emblem from the walls of temples

in Popogan and Cundinamarca.[347:6]

The ruined city of Palenque is in the depths of the forests of Central

America. It was not inhabited at the time of the conquest of Mexico by

the Spaniards. They discovered the temples and palaces of Chiapa, but of

Palenque they knew nothing. According to tradition it was founded by

Votan in the ninth century before the Christian era. The principal

building in this ruined city is the palace. A noble tower rises above

the courtyard in the centre. In this building are several small temples

or chapels, with altars standing. At the back of one of these altars is

a slab of gypsum, on which are sculptured two figures, one on each side

of a cross (Fig. No. 29). The cross is surrounded with rich

feather-work, and ornamental chains.[348:1] "The style of scripture,"

says Mr. Baring-Gould, "and the accompanying hieroglyphic inscriptions,

leave no room for doubting it to be a heathen representation."[348:2]

The same cross is represented on old pre-Mexican MSS., as in the Dresden

Codex, and that in the possession of Herr Fejervary, at the end of which

is a colossal cross, in the midst of which is represented a bleeding

deity, and figures stand round a Tau cross, upon which is perched the

sacred bird.[348:3]

The cross was also used in the north of Mexico. It occurs among the

Mixtecas and in Queredaro. Siguenza speaks of an Indian cross which was

found in the cave of Mixteca Baja. Among the ruins on the island of

Zaputero, in Lake Nicaragua, were also found old crosses reverenced by

the Indians. White marble crosses were found on the island of St. Ulloa,

on its discovery. In the state of Oaxaca, the Spaniards found that

wooden crosses were erected as sacred symbols, so also in Aguatoleo, and

among the Zapatecas. The cross was venerated as far as Florida on one

side, and Cibola on the other. In South America, the same sign was

considered symbolical and sacred. It was revered in Paraguay. In Peru

the Incas honored a cross made out of a single piece of jasper; it was

an emblem belonging to a former civilization.[348:4]

Among the Muyscas at Cumana the cross was regarded with devotion, and

was believed to be endowed with power to drive away evil spirits;

consequently new-born children were placed under the sign.[348:5]

The Toltecs said that their national deity Quetzalcoatle--whom we have

found to be a virgin-born and crucified Saviour--had introduced the

sign and ritual of the cross, and it was called the "Tree of Nutriment,"

or "Tree of Life."[349:1]

Malcom, in his "Antiquities of Britain," says

"Gomara tells that St. Andrew's cross, which is the same with

that of Burgundy, was in great veneration among the Cumas, in

South America, and that they fortified themselves with the

cross against the incursions of evil spirits, and were in use

to put them upon new-born infants; which thing very justly

deserves admiration."[349:2]

Felix Cabrara, in his "Description of the Ancient City of Mexico," says:

"The adoration of the cross has been more general in the

world, than that of any other emblem. It is to be found in the

ruins of the fine city of Mexico, near Palenque, where there

are many examples of it among the hieroglyphics on the


In "Chambers's Encyclopaedia" we find the following:

"It appears that the sign of the cross was in use as an

emblem having certain religious and mystic meanings attached

to it, long before the Christian era; and the Spanish

conquerors were astonished to find it an object of religious

veneration among the nations of Central and South


Lord Kingsborough, in his "Antiquities of Mexico," speaks of crosses

being found in Mexico, Peru, and Yucatan.[349:5] He also informs us that

the banner of Montezuma was a cross, and that the historical paintings

of the "Codex Vaticanus" represent him carrying a cross as his


A very fine and highly polished marble cross which was taken from the

Incas, was placed in the Roman Catholic cathedral at Cuzco.[349:7]

Few cases have been more powerful in producing mistakes in ancient

history, than the idea, hastily taken by Christians in all ages, that

every monument of antiquity marked with a cross, or with any of those

symbols which they conceived to be monograms of their god, was of

Christian origin. The early Christians did not adopt it as one of their

symbols; it was not until Christianity began to be paganized that it

became a Christian monogram, and even then it was not the cross as we

know it to-day. "It is not until the middle of the fifth century that

the pure form of the cross emerges to light."[349:8] The cross of

Constantine was nothing more than the [Symbol: PX], the monogram of

Osiris, and afterwards of Christ.[349:9] This is seen from the fact

that the "Labarum," or sacred banner of Constantine--on which was

placed the sign by which he was to conquer--was inscribed with this

sacred monogram. Fig. No. 30 is a representation of the Labarum, taken

from Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. The author of "The History of Our

Lord in Art" says:

"It would be difficult to prove that the cross of Constantine

was of the simple construction as now understood. As regards

the Labarum, the coins of the time, in which it is expressly

set forth, proves that the so-called cross upon it was nothing

else than the same ever-recurring monogram of Christ."[350:1]

Now, this so-called monogram of Christ, like everything else called

Christian, is of Pagan origin. It was the monogram of the Egyptian

Saviour, Osiris, and also of Jupiter Ammon.[350:2] As M. Basnage remarks

in his Hist. de Juif:[350:3]

"Nothing can be more opposite to Jesus Christ, than the Oracle

of Jupiter Ammon. And yet the same cipher served the false

god as well as the true one; for we see a medal of Ptolemy,

King of Cyrene, having an eagle carrying a thunderbolt, with

the monogram of Christ to signify the Oracle of Jupiter


Rev. J. P. Lundy says:

"Even the P.X., which I had thought to be exclusively

Christian, are to be found in combination thus: [Symbol: PX]

(just as the early Christians used it), on coins of the

Ptolemies, and on those of Herod the Great, struck forty years

before our era, together with this other form, so often seen

on the early Christian monuments, viz.: [Symbol: P with

horizontal cross-bar]."[350:4]

This monogram is also to be found on the coins of Decius, a Pagan Roman

emperor, who ruled during the commencement of the third century.[350:5]

Another form of the same monogram is [Symbol: X over H] and X H. The

monogram of the Sun was [Symbol: Y with superimposed circle]. P. H.

All these are now called monograms of Christ, and are to be met with in

great numbers in almost every church in Italy.[351:1] The monogram of

Mercury was a cross.[351:2] The monogram of the Egyptian Taut was formed

by three crosses.[351:3] The monogram of Saturn was a cross and a ram's

horn; it was also a monogram of Jupiter.[351:4] The monogram of Venus

was a cross and a circle.[351:5] The monogram of the Phenician Astarte,

and the Babylonian Bal, was also a cross and a circle.[351:6] It was

also that of Freya, Holda, and Aphrodite.[351:7] Its true significance

was the Linga and Yoni.

The cross, which was so universally adored, in its different forms among

heathen nations, was intended as an emblem or symbol of the Sun, of

eternal life, the generative powers, &c.[351:8]

As with the cross, and the X. P., so likewise with many other so-called

Christian symbols--they are borrowed from Paganism. Among these may be

mentioned the mystical three letters I. H. S., to this day retained in

some of our Protestant, as well as Roman Catholic churches, and falsely

supposed to stand for "Jesu Hominium Salvator," or "In Hoc Signo." It

is none other than the identical monogram of the heathen god

Bacchus,[351:9] and was to be seen on the coins of the Maharajah of

Cashmere.[351:10] Dr. Inman says:

"For a long period I. H. S., I. E. E. S., was a monogram of

Bacchus; letters now adopted by Romanists. Hesus was an old

divinity of Gaul, possibly left by the Phenicians. We have the

same I. H. S. in Jazabel, and reproduced in our Isabel.

The idea connected with the word is 'Phallic


The TRIANGLE, which is to be seen at the present day in Christian

churches as an emblem of the "Ever-blessed Trinity," is also of Pagan

origin, and was used by them for the same purpose.

Among the numerous symbols, the Triangle is conspicuous in India.

Hindoos attached a mystic signification to its three sides, and

generally placed it in their temples. It was often composed of lotus

plants, with an eye in the center.[351:12] It was sometimes represented

in connection with the mystical word AUM[351:13] (Fig. No. 31), and

sometimes surrounded with rays of glory.[351:14]

This symbol was engraved upon the tablet of the ring which the religious

chief, called the Brahm-atma wore, as one of the signs of his

dignity, and it was used by the Buddhists as emblematic of the


The ancient Egyptians signified their divine Triad by a single


Mr. Bonwick says:

"The Triangle was a religious form from the first. It is to

be recognized in the Obelisk and Pyramid (of Egypt). To this

day, in some Christian churches, the priest's blessing is

given as it was in Egypt, by the sign of a triangle; viz.: two

fingers and a thumb. An Egyptian god is seen with a triangle

over his shoulders. This figure, in ancient Egyptian theology,

was the type of the Holy Trinity--three in one."[352:3]

And Dr. Inman says:

"The Triangle is a sacred symbol in our modern churches, and

it was the sign used in ancient temples before the initiated,

to indicate the Trinity--three persons 'co-eternal together,

and co-equal.'"[352:4]

The Triangle is found on ancient Greek monuments.[352:5] An ancient seal

(engraved in the Memoires de l'Academie royale des Inscriptions et

Belles Lettres), supposed to be of Phenician origin, "has as subject a

standing figure between two stars, beneath which are handled crosses.

Above the head of the deity is the TRIANGLE, or symbol of the


One of the most conspicuous among the symbols intended to represent the

Trinity, to be seen in Christian churches, is the compound leaf of the

trefoil. Modern story had attributed to St. Patrick the idea of

demonstrating a trinity in unity, by showing the shamrock to his

hearers; but, says Dr. Inman, "like many other things attributed to the

moderns, the idea belongs to the ancients."[352:7]

The Trefoil adorned the head of Osiris, the Egyptian Saviour, and is

to be found among the Pagan symbols or representations of the

three-in-one mystery.[353:1] Fig. No. 32 is a representation of the

Trefoil used by the ancient Hindoos as emblematic of their celestial

Triad--Brahma, Vishnu and Siva--and afterwards adopted by the

Christians.[353:2] The leaf of the Vila, or Bel-tree, is typical of

Siva's attributes, because triple in form.[353:3]

The Trefoil was a sacred plant among the ancient Druids of Britain. It

was to them an emblem of the mysterious three in one.[353:4] It is to

be seen on their coins.[353:5]

The Tripod was very generally employed among the ancients as an emblem

of the Trinity, and is found composed in an endless variety of ways.

On the coins of Menecratia, in Phrygia, it is represented between two

asterisks, with a serpent wreathed around a battle-axe, inserted into

it, as an accessory symbol, signifying preservation and destruction. In

the ceremonial of worship, the number three was employed with mystic


The three lines, or three human legs, springing from a central disk or

circle, which has been called a Trinacria, and supposed to allude to

the island of Sicily, is simply an ancient emblem of the Trinity. "It

is of Asiatic origin; its earliest appearance being upon the very

ancient coins of Aspendus in Pamphylia; sometimes alone in the square

incuse, and sometimes upon the body of an eagle or the back of a


We have already seen, in the chapter on the crucifixion, that the

earliest emblems of the Christian Saviour were the "Good Shepherd" and

the "Lamb." Among these may also be mentioned the Fish. "The only

satisfactory explanation why Jesus should be represented as a Fish,"

says Mr. King, in his Gnostics and their Remains,[353:8] "seems to be

the circumstance that in the quaint jargon of the Talmud the Messiah is

often designated 'Dag,' or 'The Fish;'" and Mr. Lundy, in his

"Monumental Christianity," says:

"Next to the sacred monogram (the [Symbol: PX]) the Fish

takes its place in importance as a sign of Christ in his

special office of Saviour." "In the Talmud the Messiah is

called 'Dag' or 'Fish.'" "Where did the Jews learn to apply

'Dag' to their Messiah? And why did the primitive Christians

adopt it as a sign of Christ?" "I cannot disguise facts. Truth

demands no concealment or apology. Paganism has its types

and prophecies of Christ as well as Judaism. What then is the

Dag-on of the old Babylonians? The fish-god or being that

taught them all their civilization."[354:1]

As Mr. Lundy says, "truth demands no concealment or apology," therefore,

when the truth is exposed, we find that Vishnu, the Hindoo Messiah,

Preserver, Mediator and Saviour, was represented as a "dag," or fish.

The Fish takes its place in importance as a sign of Vishnu in his

special office of Saviour.

Prof. Monier Williams says:

"It is as Vishnu that the Supreme Being, according to the

Hindoos, exhibited his sympathy with human trials, his love

for the human race. Nine principal occasions have already

occurred in which the god has thus interposed for the

salvation of his creatures. The first was Matsaya, the

Fish. In this Vishnu became a fish to save the seventh Manu,

the progenitor of the human race, from the universal


We have already seen, in Chap. IX., the identity of the Hindoo Matsaya

and the Babylonian Dagon.

The fish was sacred among the Babylonians, Assyrians and Phenicians, as

it is among the Romanists of to-day. It was sacred also to Venus, and

the Romanists still eat it on the very day of the week which was called

"Dies veneris," Venus' day; fish day.[354:3] It was an emblem of

fecundity. The most ancient symbol of the productive power was a fish,

and it is accordingly found to be the universal symbol upon many of the

earliest coins.[354:4] Pythagoras and his followers did not eat fish.

They were ascetics, and the eating of fish was supposed to tend to

carnal desires. This ancient superstition is entertained by many even at

the present day.

The fish was the earliest symbol of Christ Jesus. Fig. No. 33 is a

design from the catacombs.[354:5] This cross-fish is not unlike the

sacred monogram.

That the Christian Saviour should be called a fish may at first appear

strange, but when the mythos is properly understood (as we shall

endeavor to make it in Chap. XXXIX.), it will not appear so. The Rev.

Dr. Geikie, in his "Life and Words of Christ," says that a fish stood

for his name, from the significance of the Greek letters in the word

that expresses the idea, and for this reason he was called a fish. But,

we may ask, why was Buddha not only called Fo, or Po, but Dag-Po,

which was literally the Fish Po, or Fish Buddha? The fish did not stand

for his name. The idea that Jesus was called a fish because the Messiah

is designated "Dag" in the Talmud, is also an unsatisfactory


Julius Africanus (an early Christian writer) says:

"Christ is the great Fish taken by the fish-hook of God, and

whose flesh nourishes the whole world."[355:1]

"The fish fried

Was Christ that died,"

is an old couplet.[355:2]

Prosper Africanus calls Christ,

"The great fish who satisfied for himself the disciples on the

shore, and offered himself as a fish to the whole


The Serpent was also an emblem of Christ Jesus, or in other words,

represented Christ, among some of the early Christians.

Moses set up a brazen serpent in the wilderness, and Christian

divines have seen in this a type of Christ Jesus. Indeed, the Gospels

sanction this; for it is written:

"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the

Son of man be lifted up."

From this serpent, Tertullian asserts, the early sect of Christians

called Ophites took their rise. Epiphanius says, that the "Ophites

sprung out of the Nicolaitans and Gnostics, who were so called from the

serpent, which they worshiped." "The Gnostics," he adds, "taught that

the ruler of the world was of a dracontic form." The Ophites preserved

live serpents in their sacred chest, and looked upon them as the

mediator between them and God. Manes, in the third century, taught

serpent worship in Asia Minor, under the name of Christianity,

promulgating that

"Christ was an incarnation of the Great Serpent, who glided

over the cradle of the Virgin Mary, when she was asleep, at

the age of a year and a half."[355:4]

"The Gnostics," says Irenaeus, "represented the Mind (the Son, the

Wisdom) in the form of a serpent," and "the Ophites," says Epiphanius,

"have a veneration for the serpent; they esteem him the same as Christ."

"They even quote the Gospels," says Tertullian, "to prove that Christ

was an imitation of the serpent."[356:1]

The question now arises, Why was the Christian Saviour represented as a

serpent? Simply because the heathen Saviours were represented in like


From the earliest times of which we have any historical notice, the

serpent has been connected with the preserving gods, or Saviours; the

gods of goodness and of wisdom. In Hindoo mythology, the serpent is

intimately associated with Vishnu, the preserving god, the

Saviour.[356:2] Serpents are often associated with the Hindoo gods, as

emblems of eternity.[356:3] It was a very sacred animal among the


Worshipers of Buddha venerate serpents. "This animal," says Mr. Wake,

"became equal in importance as Buddha himself." And Mr. Lillie says:

"That God was worshiped at an early date by the Buddhists

under the symbol of the Serpent is proved from the

sculptures of oldest topes, where worshipers are represented

so doing."[356:5]

The Egyptians also venerated the serpent. It was the special symbol of

Thoth, a primeval deity of Syro-Egyptian mythology, and of all those

gods, such as Hermes and Seth, who can be connected with him.[356:6]

Kneph and Apap were also represented as serpents.[356:7]

Herodotus, when he visited Egypt, found sacred serpents in the temples.

Speaking of them, he says:

"In the neighborhood of Thebes, there are sacred serpents, not

at all hurtful to men: they are diminutive in size, and carry

two horns that grow on the top of the head. When these

serpents die, they bury them in the temple of Jupiter; for

they say they are sacred to that god."[356:8]

The third member of the Chaldean triad, Hea, or Hoa, was represented by

a serpent. According to Sir Henry Rawlinson, the most important titles

of this deity refer "to his functions as the source of all knowledge and

science." Not only is he "The Intelligent Fish," but his name may be

read as signifying both "Life" and a "Serpent," and he may be considered

as "figured by the great serpent which occupies so conspicuous a place

among the symbols of the gods on the black stones recording Babylonian


The Phenicians and other eastern nations venerated the serpent as

symbols of their beneficent gods.[357:2]

As god of medicine, Apollo, the central figure in Grecian mythology, was

originally worshiped under the form of a serpent, and men invoked him as

the "Helper." He was the Solar Serpent-god.[357:3]

AEsculapius, the healing god, the Saviour, was also worshiped under the

form of a serpent.[357:4] "Throughout Hellas," says Mr. Cox, "AEsculapius

remained the 'Healer,' and the 'Restorer of Life,' and accordingly the

serpent is everywhere his special emblem."[357:5]

Why the serpent was the symbol of the Saviours and beneficent gods of

antiquity, will be explained in Chap. XXXIX.

The Dove, among the Christians, is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. The

Matthew narrator relates that when Jesus went up out of the water, after

being baptized by John, "the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw

the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him."

Here is another piece of Paganism, as we find that the Dove was the

symbol of the Holy Spirit among all nations of antiquity. Rev. J. P.

Lundy, speaking of this, says:

"It is a remarkable fact that this spirit (i. e., the Holy

Spirit) has been symbolized among all religious and civilized

nations by the Dove."[357:6]

And Earnest De Bunsen says:

"The symbol of the Spirit of God was the Dove, in Greek,

peleia, and the Samaritans had a brazen fiery dove, instead

of the brazen fiery serpent. Both referred to fire, the symbol

of the Holy Ghost."[357:7]

Buddha is represented, like Christ Jesus, with a dove hovering over his


The virgin goddess Juno is often represented with a dove on her head. It

is also seen on the heads of the images of Astarte, Cybele, and Isis; it

was sacred to Venus, and was intended as a symbol of the Holy


Even in the remote islands of the Pacific Ocean, a bird is believed to

be an emblem of the Holy Spirit.[357:10]

R. Payne Knight, in speaking of the "mystic Dove," says:

"A bird was probably chosen for the emblem of the third

person (i. e., the Holy Ghost) to signify incubation, by

which was figuratively expressed the fructification of inert

matter, caused by the vital spirit moving upon the waters.

"The Dove would naturally be selected in the East in

preference to every other species of bird, on account of its

domestic familiarity with man; it usually lodging under the

same roof with him, and being employed as his messenger from

one remote place to another. Birds of this kind were also

remarkable for the care of their offspring, and for a sort of

conjugal attachment and fidelity to each other, as likewise

for the peculiar fervency of their sexual desires, whence they

were sacred to Venus, and emblems of love."[358:1]

Masons' marks are conspicuous among the Christian symbols. On some of

the most ancient Roman Catholic cathedrals are to be found figures of

Christ Jesus with Mason's marks about him.

Many are the so-called Christian symbols which are direct importations

from paganism. To enumerate them would take, as we have previously said,

a volume of itself. For further information on this subject the reader

is referred to Dr. Inman's "Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian

Symbolism," where he will see how many ancient Indian, Egyptian,

Etruscan, Grecian and Roman symbols have been adopted by Christians, a

great number of which are Phallic emblems.[358:2]


[339:1] The Pentateuch Examined, vol. vi. p. 113.

[340:1] Monumental Christianity, p. 14.

[340:2] Baring-Gould: Curious Myths, p. 301. Higgins: Anac., vol. i. p.


[340:3] Curious Myths, p. 301.

[340:4] Ibid. p. 302.

[340:5] Maurice: Indian Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 350.

[340:6] Ibid. vol. iii. p. 47.

[340:7] Curious Myths, pp. 280-282. Buddha and Early Buddhism, pp. 7, 9,

and 22, and Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 223.

[340:8] Buddha and Early Buddhism, p. 227.

[340:9] Inman: Ancient Faiths, vol. i. p. 409. Higgins: Anac., vol. i.

p. 230.

[341:1] See Ibid.

[341:2] See Celtic Druids, p. 126; Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 217, and

Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, pp. 216, 217 and 219.

[341:3] Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 217.

[341:4] Knight: Anct. Art and Mytho., p. 58.

[341:5] See Inman's "Symbolism," and Lundy's Monu. Christianity, Fig.


[341:6] Baring-Gould: Curious Myths, p. 285.

[341:7] Hoskins' Visit to the great Oasis, pl. xii. in Curious Myths, p.


[341:8] Curious Myths, p. 286.

[342:1] Curious Myths, p. 287.

[342:2] Socrates: Eccl. Hist., lib. v. ch. xvii.

[342:3] Quoted by Rev. Dr. Giles: Hebrew and Christian Records, vol. ii.

p. 86, and Rev. Robert Taylor: Diegesis, p. 202.

[342:4] See Colenso's Pentateuch Examined, vol. vi. p. 115.

[342:5] Bonwick: Egyptian Belief, p. 12.

[342:6] Ibid. p. 219.

[343:1] Bonwick: Egyptian Belief, p. 218, and Smith's Chaldean Account

of Genesis, p. 54.

[343:2] Egyptian Belief, p. 218.

[343:3] Bonomi: Ninevah and Its Palaces, in Curious Myths, p. 287.

[343:4] Curious Myths, p. 287.

[343:5] Vol. i. p. 337, pl. xx.

[343:6] Travels in Persia, vol. i. p. 545, pl. xxi.

[343:7] Ibid. p. 529, and pl. xvi

[343:8] Ibid., and pl. xvii.

[343:9] Ibid. pl. xxvii.

[343:10] Ibid. p. 573.

[344:1] Curious Myths, p. 290.

[344:2] Knight: Anct. Art and Mytho., p. 31.

[344:4] Baring-Gould: Curious Myths, p. 291.

[345:1] Octavius, ch. xxix.

[345:2] See Chambers's Encyclo., art. "Denarius."

[345:3] Curious Myths, p. 291.

[345:4] Ibid. pp. 291, 296.

[345:5] Ibid. p. 311.

[345:6] The Pentateuch Examined, vol. vi. p. 115.

[346:1] Anct. Art and Mytho., p. 30.

[346:2] Curious Myths, pp. 280, 281.

[346:3] Ibid. pp. 281, 282.

[346:4] Knight: Ancient Art and Mytho., p. 30.

[346:5] See Celtic Druids, pp. 126, 130, 131.

[347:1] Cleland, p. 102, in Anac., i. p. 716.

[347:2] Celtic Druids, p. 242, and Chambers's Encyclo., art. "Cross."

[347:3] Ibid.

[347:4] See Maurice: Indian Antiquities, vol. ii. 103.

[347:5] The Pentateuch Examined, vol. vi. p. 114.

[347:6] Brinton: Myths of the New World, p. 95.

[348:1] Stephens: Central America, vol. ii. p. 346, in Curious Myths, p.


[348:2] Curious Myths, p. 298

[348:3] Klemm Kulturgeschichte, v. 142, in Curious Myths, pp. 298, 299.

[348:4] Curious Myths, p. 299.

[348:5] Mueller: Geschichte der Amerikanischen Urreligionen, in Ibid.

[349:1] Curious Myths, p. 301.

[349:2] Quoted in Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 30.

[349:3] Quoted in Celtic Druids, p. 131.

[349:4] Chambers's Encyclo., art. "Cross."

[349:5] Mexican Antiquities, vol. vi. pp. 165, 180.

[349:6] Ibid. p. 179.

[349:7] Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 32.

[349:8] Jameson's Hist. of Our Lord in Art, vol. ii. p. 318.

[349:9] "These two letters in the old Samaritan, as found on coins,

stand, the first for 400, the second for 200-600. This is the staff of

Osiris. It is also the monogram of Osiris, and has been adopted by the

Christians, and is to be seen in the churches in Italy in thousands of

places. See Basnage (lib. iii. c. xxxiii.), where several other

instances of this kind may be found. In Addison's 'Travels in Italy'

there is an account of a medal, at Rome, of Constantius, with this

inscription; In hoc signo Victor eris [Symbol: PX]." (Anacalypsis, vol.

i. p. 222.)

[350:1] Hist. of Our Lord in Art, vol. ii. p. 316.

[350:2] See Celtic Druids, p. 127, and Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p.


[350:3] Bk. iii. c. xxiii. in Anac., i. p. 219.

[350:4] Monumental Christianity, p. 125.

[350:5] See Celtic Druids, pp. 127, 128.

[351:1] See Ibid. and Monumental Christianity, pp. 15, 92, 123, 126,


[351:2] See Celtic Druids, p. 101. Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 220. Indian

Antiq., ii. 68.

[351:3] See Celtic Druids, p. 101. Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. 103.

[351:4] See Celtic Druids, p. 127, and Taylor's Diegesis, p. 201.

[351:5] See Celtic Druids, p. 127.

[351:6] See Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. 218.

[351:7] See Cox: Aryan Mythology, vol. ii. 115.

[351:8] See The Pentateuch Examined, vol. vi. pp. 113-115.

[351:9] See Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. i. pp. 221 and 328. Taylor's

Diegesis, p. 187. Celtic Druids, p. 127, and Isis Unveiled, p. 527, vol.


[351:10] See Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. 212.

[351:11] Ancient Faiths, vol. i. pp. 518, 519.

[351:12] See Prog. Relig. Ideas, vol. i. p. 94.

[351:13] This word--AUM--stood for Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, the Hindoo


[351:14] See Isis Unveiled, vol. ii. p. 31.

[352:1] See Isis Unveiled, vol. ii. p. 81.

[352:2] Knight: Anct. Art and Mytho., p. 196.

[352:3] Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. 213.

[352:4] Ancient Faiths, vol. i. p. 328.

[352:5] See Knight: Anct. Art and Mytho., p. 196.

[352:6] Curious Myths, p. 289.

[352:7] Inman's Ancient Faiths, vol. i. pp. 153, 154.

[353:1] See Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. 242.

[353:2] See Inman's Pagan and Christian Symbolism, p. 30.

[353:3] See Williams' Hinduism, p. 99.

[353:4] See Myths of the British Druids, p. 448.

[353:5] Ibid. p. 601.

[353:6] Knight: Anct. Art and Mytho., p. 170.

[353:7] Ibid. pp. 169, 170.

[353:8] Page 138.

[354:1] Monumental Christianity, pp. 130, 132, 133.

[354:2] Indian Wisdom, p. 329.

[354:3] Inman: Anct. Faiths, vol. i. pp. 528, 529, and Mueller: Science

of Relig., p. 315.

[354:4] Knight: Anct. Art and Mytho., p. 111.

[354:5] Lillie: Buddha and Early Buddhism, p. 227.

[355:1] Quoted in Monumental Christianity, p. 134.

[355:2] Ibid. p. 135.

[355:3] Ibid. p. 372.

[355:4] Squire: Serpent Symbol, p. 246.

[356:1] Fergusson: Tree and Serpent Worship, p. 9.

[356:2] Wake: Phallism in Ancient Religs., p. 72.

[356:3] Williams' Hinduism, p. 169.

[356:4] Knight: Anct. Art and Mytho., p. 16, and Fergusson: Tree and

Serpent Worship.

[356:5] Wake, p. 73. Lillie: p. 20.

[356:6] Wake, p. 40, and Bunsen's Keys, p. 101.

[356:7] Champollion, pp. 144, 145.

[356:8] Herodotus, bk. ii. ch. 74.

[357:1] Wake: Phallism in Anct. Religs., p. 30.

[357:2] See Knight: Anct. Art and Mytho., p. 16. Cox: Aryan Mytho., vol.

ii. p. 128. Fergusson's Tree and Serpent Worship, and Squire's Serpent


[357:3] Deane: Serpent Worship, p. 213.

[357:4] Tree and Serpent Worship, p. 7, and Bulfinch: Age of Fable, p.


[357:5] Aryan Mytho., vol. ii. p. 36.

[357:6] Monumental Christianity, p. 293.

[357:7] Bunsen's Angel-Messiah, p. 44.

[357:8] See ch. xxix.

[357:9] Monumental Christianity, pp. 323 and 234.

[357:10] Knight: Anct. Art and Mytho., p. 169.

[358:1] Knight's Ancient Art and Mythology, p. 170.

[358:2] See also R. Payne Knight's Worship of Priapus, and the other

works of Dr. Thomas Inman.