© 2000 Walter E. Gast
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Palm
Palm branches are most often used as a symbol of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the event that heralded his coming Passion and crucifixion. By derivation, palms may represent the fickleness of human acclamation. Used by the Romans as a symbol of victory, they have been used by the church as a symbol of Christ's ultimate victory over sin, or of the saints' victory over death. In the latter sense, martyrs are sometimes portrayed holding palm branches.

John 12:12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! (n) " "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" (n "Blessed is the King of Israel!" (NIV)

Season: Holy Week, esp. Palm Sunday


Pax
Pax is the Latin word for "peace." It is often used in association with the Christmas story.

Peacock
The peacock is used in Christian symbolism as a sign of immortality because of the myth that a peacock's flesh does not decay after death. Because of the way a peacock struts and displays its feathers, it may also be used as a symbol of human vanity.

Season: Easter


Pearl
The pearl is symbolic of the kingdom of heaven, and is taken from Jesus' parable of the "pearl of great price." Matthew's gospel also uses the pearl as a symbol of the word of God.

Matt. 13:45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. (NIV)

Matt. 7:6 "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces. (NIV)


Pelican-in-her-Piety
The figure of the pelican-in-her-piety is based on the legend that in times of famine, the mother pelican plucks open her breast and feeds her young on her own blood. During the 13th century, this figure became widely used in Christian art to represent Christ's voluntary sacrifice of atonement.

Season: Lent, esp. Holy Week


Phoenix
An ancient myth held that the beautiful phoenix, which lived in the Arabian desert, lived to be five hundred years old and then set its nest on fire and was consumed in the flames. After three days, the phoenix rose again from the ashes, restored to youth, to live another five hundred years. Early Christians saw in this tale a symbol of the Resurrection. St. Clement related the story during the first century in his first letter to the Corinthians. It was used to symbolize resurrection generally at first, and gradually came to signify the Resurrection of Christ.

Season: Easter


Plants
Click here for symbolism of various plants, trees and flowers.

Plumb Line
The plumb line is a symbol of judgment which was used by the prophets Isaiah and Amos. Jesus is sometimes portrayed holding a plumb line when he is portrayed as the Judge of men's souls.

Amos 7:7 This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. 8 And the LORD asked me, "What do you see, Amos?" "A plumb line," I replied. Then the Lord said, "Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer. (NIV)


Pomegranate
The pomegranate, because of its plenitude of seeds, has long been used as a symbol of royalty, hope and future life. It is often used as a symbol of the Resurrection or of the church, where its seeds represent the many believers who make up the one catholic (universal) church.

Season: Sundays after Pentecost


Poppy
The poppy symbolizes sleep, ignorance and indifference. It may be used to represent the sleep of death, and as such may be seen in portrayals of the Crucifixion or the death of saints.

Promised Land
The Promised Land is a chief type and figure throughout both the Old and New Testaments. God promised a homeland, flowing with milk and honey, to Abraham and his descendants, but it was not until Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt that they finally entered into their inheritance. For this reason, many have used the Promised Land as a figure of heaven, reached only after a period of "wandering" on the earth. The New Testament teaches that all of God's promises are answered "yes" in Christ. It is a better typology, therefore, to say that Jesus himself is our Promised Land — our inheritance, in whom those who believe will dwell forever.

Gen. 12:1   The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (NIV)

2Cor. 1:20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (NIV)


Pulpit
See Chancel Furnishings.

(Pulpit)