The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

Early Jewish and Christian Art

What are some of the most important Christian symbols in art?

  • Dove: A symbol of purity and peace. The dove can also symbolize the Holy Spirit of the Christian trinity.
  • Lamb: The lamb represents sacrifice. Jesus Christ is referred to as the Lamb of God as he was sacrificed on behalf of humanity. A flock of sheep, by contrast, represents Christian worshippers who are protected by Christ, the Good Shepherd.
  • Cross: This is the most prominent symbol of Christianity and it symbolizes the wooden beams used to crucify Jesus Christ. It is both a symbol of Christ’s suffering, as well as Christ’s triumph and resurrection.
  • Four Evangelists: The Four Evangelists are also referred to as the Four Gospels as they wrote the Gospels in the New Testament of the Bible. Each of them is often represented with a particular symbol or attribute. Saint Matthew is shown as a man or angel; Saint Mark is a lion; Saint Luke is an ox; Saint John is an eagle.


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