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Symbols for Jesus

Seal of the Society of Jesus uses the IHS symbol.

The symbols of our faith speak its truths. We hand down these symbols from generation to generation.

Fish
During times of persecution the early Christians used a fish as a secret sign of identification. The first letters of each word in the expression “Jesus, Christ, Son of God, Savior” in Greek spell the Greek word for fish (ichthus).

Chi-rho
This monogram for Christ is formed from the first two letters in the Greek word Christ: chi (X) and rho (P).

IHS
This monogram for Christ with rays of light shining from it is taken from the first letters in the Greek name for Jesus. It is a sign for the Holy Name designed in the fifteenth century by St. Bernardine of Siena.

Lamb
The lamb stands for Christ who is the Lamb of God sacrificed for the sins of the world. It is usually shown triumphant and holding a banner because the Lamb has risen and is exalted in heaven as is seen in the Book of Revelation.

Vine
Jesus referred to himself as the true vine (John 15:1). We are the branches. Apart from him we have no life.

Cross
This means of execution did not become a popular symbol for Christ until the fourteenth century. Since then, it has stood for Jesus and his work of redemption.

Three circles
As the second person of the Trinity, Christ is represented as one of the intertwined circles in the symbol for the Trinity. The circle represents that God is eternal, that is, God has no beginning or end.

Sacred Heart
The Heart of Christ represents his boundless love for the Father and for us as shown through his work of redemption: his death and resurrection.

Rising sun
The rising sun stands for Jesus, the Light of the World who rose from the darkness of death to new life. Early Christians prayed each morning facing east, toward the rising sun.

† Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior! †



© 1997 Loyola Press