Published On: Wed, Jan 16th, 2019

The significance of Catholic symbols

Catholicism uses a number of different symbols to convey faith and to assist in prayer. Most of these are instantly recognisable as instruments of the Catholic worship. And devoted Catholics all over the world keep these symbols close. But, do you know the stories behind them? Here we’ve looked at the three most well-known symbols of the Catholic faith.

photo Simon Dean Media via Flickr

Rosary beads

These are used in the prayer of the Rosary to keep track of each prayer, as they are based on repetition. Using these beads means one is free to focus on the prayer and the true meaning behind the words. The repetition involved in these prayers helps with focus and allows for meditation.

The most well-known Rosary beads are most likely the Five Decades Rosary. These consist of a cross then five beads which are used for the prayer of Our Father, followed by three used for Hail Mary and then one bead for Glory Be. The looped chain that follows consists of five sets of ten beads used for the Hail Mary again, every ten beads are separated by another bead used for Our Father, or for contemplation on the “Mysteries”. The Rosary consists of 20 mysteries based on important events in the lives of Jesus and Mary.

These strings of beads come in a variety of sizes and colours and are highly valued by their owners. It’s possible to buy a Rosary blessed by the Pope, which, understandably, is an extra special item. And, there’s still a lot more to learn, including some interesting facts about the Rosary you may not have known before.

The cross

The cross is a recognisable icon of Christianity the world over and is not only a symbol of salvation and suffering but also representative of salvation. Over 2000 years ago Jesus Christ was executed on a cross and ever since this simple shape has come to be a beloved and respected symbol of the Christian faith.

When worn as a necklace, it is believed to ward off evil and protect the wearer. Making the sign of the cross with the hands dates back to the early centuries of Christianity. For Christians, the cross is an important symbol of love, sacrifice, hope and healing.

The crucifix

The crucifix is a well-recognised symbol of the Catholic faith. It’s distinctive from the bare cross in that it features the representation of Jesus being crucified. While it’s more common for other denominations of Christians to celebrate the risen Christ, Catholics celebrate the true sacrifice of Jesus. Choosing to use the image of Christ on the cross is a reminder that Jesus died for the sins of humanity – which is no small sacrifice to make. To Catholics, the crucifix is a reminder of the sacrifices they must make to truly serve Christ, and represents their level of commitment to their faith.

It is also a reminder of the sacrifices that must be made on earth to truly serve God. It is a symbol of the devotion to living a wholly Christian life.

There are many more important symbols of the Catholic faith, however, these are perhaps the most instantly recognisable. And, perhaps, the ones most – if not all – Catholics are bound to have in their home or in their possession at all times.

Author: Victoria Chase

Victoria Chase is an experienced freelance journalist and content writer for a variety of web publications across the US and the UK. She has written on food, drink, lifestyle, sustainability, spirituality, community, mental health, to name just a few.

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