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Advent Wreath
The Advent wreath was adapted from a pagan custom of lighting candles in anticipation of the winter solstice, the day on which daylight hours once again begin to lengthen. Because the winter solstice roughly coincides with Christmas, Medieval believers used the Advent wreath as a symbol of watchfulness and increasing joy as the Lord's Nativity approached. The circular wreath represents eternity, as do the evergreen branches from which it is made, reminding us of God's gift of eternal life in Christ. A new candle is lit on each of the four Sundays in Advent. The growing light represents the Christian's increasing joy. The candles are colored purple (or blue), a color that represents watchfulness and preparation. In some churches, a pink or rose candle is used for the third or fourth candle. This candle represents joy. The day on which this candle is lit is sometimes called Gaudete ("Let us rejoice"). Some churches attach meanings to the other candles, such as hope, love and peace. A white candle is sometimes placed in the middle of the wreath to be lit on Christmas Day.

Season: Advent

Agnus Dei (Reclining)
The Agnus Dei (Latin for "Lamb of God") may appear in several postures. Seated on a book with seven seals, it represents the final judgment when Christ returns in glory.

Rev. 5:11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" (NIV)

Season: Ascension Sunday, Christ the King Sunday

Agnus Dei (Standing)
Standing with a banner, the Agnus Dei represents the risen Christ who triumphs over death. This symbol is rich in significance. John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. In the Revelation, Jesus is portrayed as a lamb. Even in the Old Testament, God's provision of a ram as a substitute sacrifice for Isaac is an important type of Christ.

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (NIV)

Gen. 22:9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. 12 "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." 13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram(n) caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." (NIV)

Season: Easter

Alpha & Omega
Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and thus refer to the eternal nature of Christ.

Rev. 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." (NIV)

Season: Advent, Ascension Sunday

Alpha Mu Omega
These letters are the initials for the Greeks words for "yesterday, today and forever," emphasizing not only Jesus' eternal nature, but His presence with us.

Hebr. 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (NIV)

See Cathedral Floor Plan.

The anchor symbolizes the Christian's hope in Christ.

Hebr. 6:17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. (NIV)

The word "angel" means "messenger," and angels most often appear in the context of a message from God. Examples are the Annunciation to Mary, the appearance to shepherds at Christmas, the announcement of the Resurrection, and many others. Angels may also represent the watchfulness or presence of God.

Click here to read more about angels.

The ankh, or ansate cross, is an ancient Egyptian hieroglyph representing life and regeneration. It was adopted by Christians as a symbol of eternal life.

Probably because the Latin word for "apple" and for "evil" are identical (malum), the apple came to represent the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden. It is therefore often used to symbolize the fall into sin, or of sin itself. When Christ is portrayed holding an apple, He is acknowledged as the Second Adam who brings life.

1Cor. 15:21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (NIV)

Apostles (Emblems)
Visit here for the emblems of the apostles.

See Cathedral Floor Plan.

Ark (Noah's)
See Noah's Ark.

Ark of the Covenant
The word "ark" means, literally, "chest." The ark of the covenant was the chief artifact of the tabernacle, the place where God dwelt and where his glory shone. It was a wooden box overlaid with gold and covered with a lid, called the "mercy seat," made of solid gold. On top of the lid were two golden angels (cherubim) whose wings extended over it. Inside of the ark were kept the tablets of the law, a pot of manna, and Aaron's staff. The ark of the covenant is perhaps the most profound of all the Old Testament types of Christ. As the mercy seat covered the law and hid it from view, so Christ covers his people from the judgment of the law. As God spoke from between the cherubim, so God now reveals Himself to us in Christ Jesus.

Arks (Three)
Three arks (or "chests") may be used as a symbol of the Magi who came to visit the Baby Jesus after he was born. The arks represent their three gifts, listed in the Bible as gold, frankincense and myrrh. (It is because of the three gifts that tradition has given us three wise men — scripture says nothing about the number of Magi.)

Matt. 2:9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east(n) went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. (NIV)

The word "aureole" comes from the Latin word for "gold." It is symbolic of divinity and supreme power. An elongated aureole is called a "mandorla" or "almond." It is sometimes used to surround the entire body of Christ or the Virgin Mary and Child.