© 2000 Walter E. Gast
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Saints
Click here for emblems of the Apostles.

(Emblem of St. Peter)


Sanctuary
See Cathedral Floor Plan.

Sand Dollar
The sand dollar has been used in modern times as a reminder of the major events in the life of Christ. On one side of the shell appears a flower shape roughly resembling a poinsettia, a reminder of Jesus' nativity. The shell is pierced with four small holes and one larger one, signifying the four nails and a spear that pierced his body. On the other side is another flower shape resembling a lily, a reminder of his resurrection. A broken shell reveals five tiny bones that resemble doves, a reminder of his Holy Spirit by which he is present with us today. This story has been told in a poem.

Scales
Scales are symbolic of judgment and may be used to represent the final judgment at the Lord's return. They are also associated with the Archangel Michael, to whom is sometimes attributed the responsibility of weighing the souls of the departed.

Scepter
The scepter is a symbol of authority. Together with the crown, it is a symbol of Christ's triumphant reign over all creation.

Gen. 49:10 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs(n) and the obedience of the nations is his. (NIV)

Hebr. 1:8b "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. (NIV)

Season: Ascension Sunday, Christ the King Sunday


Scourge & Pillar
The scourge is a symbol of Christ's Passion. It is often shown together with a pillar to which He may have been bound.

John 19:1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" And they struck him in the face. (NIV)

Season: Holy Week


Scroll
A scroll may represent a variety of ideas. It may be presumed to contain the names of the elect, thus serving as an eschatological symbol of the Day of Judgment and eternal life. It is sometimes used to symbolize the writings of the Old Testament. A scroll may be used as an emblem of saints recognized for their gift of writing, such as St. James the Greater.

Rev. 5:6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits(n) of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. (NIV)


Seal
The seal is a sign of the mark or promises of God. One bears a seal as a sign of consecration to the Lord. The Old Testament priests wore an "ephod" containing seals representing the twelve tribes of Israel and a headpiece on which was engraved, like a seal, "Holy to the Lord." Believers are sometimes said to have been "marked with a seal." The seal may also represent the seal that was placed by the Roman soldiers on Jesus' tomb to prevent the theft of his body.

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)


Seals (Seven)
Seven seals are a symbol of the Last Judgment taken from the Revelation. Sometimes the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) is shown reclining on a book or scroll containing seven seals.

Rev. 5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?" 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." (NIV)


Serpent
A serpent coiled around a fruiting tree is a symbol taken from the Genesis account of the Fall. Though not named in Genesis, the serpent is understood to be Satan. The tree is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, one of two trees from which Adam and Eve were not to eat (the other was the Tree of Life). The fruit, usually represented by an apple, is the tree's "forbidden fruit."

Gen. 2:8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground &emdash;trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (NIV)

Gen. 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (NIV)

Gen. 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" (NIV)


Shamrock
The shamrock is a symbol of the Trinity and of St. Patrick, who used it to explain to unbelievers how God is One God in three Persons. Patrick would hold up a shamrock and challenge his hearers: "Is it one leaf or three?" "It is both one leaf and three," they would inevitably reply. "And so it is with God," he would conclude.

Shell
The shell (usually a scallop or cockle shell) with three water drops is a symbol of baptism generally, and especially of the baptism of Christ. The three droplets remind us of the Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — into which Christians are baptized. The shell alone may also be used as a symbol for pilgrimage, and may be used as an emblem for saints known for their travels (such as St. James) or whose shrines have become destinations for pilgrims.

Matt 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in(n) the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (NIV)

Season: Epiphany or any baptismal Sunday


Ship
The ship is a symbol of the church. The symbol may have been patterned after the ark of Noah, which bore God's faithful to safety through the Deluge. Jesus' calming of the storm also helped to make the boat a symbol of safety and refuge. St. Ambrose compared the church to a ship, with the cross as its mast. The ship is also used as an attribute of several saints, such as St. Jude the Apostle, Vincent and Nicholas of Myra. The central seating area of a large church is called the "nave", which is Latin for "ship".

Mark 4:37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" 41 They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" (NIV)


Skull
The skull is a symbol for death, both physical and spiritual. A skull placed at the foot of the cross is usually understood to be the skull of Adam, a reminder that in Adam all died, but in Christ, the Second Adam, all will be made alive.

1Cor. 15:20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 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)


Snake
See Serpent.

Square
A square may be used as a symbol of many things, all primarily related to the number four. It may represent the four corners of the earth. It may represent the four Evangelists - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Since four is sometimes considered the "number of the earth," is may be used as a halo, or "nimbus," to distinguish living persons from departed saints.

Stag
The stag or deer is a symbol of piety and devotion, and of safety in God's care.

Ps. 42:1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. (NIV)

Ps. 18:33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. (NIV)


Star
Click here for all varieties of stars.

(7-Pointed Star)


Steeple
The church steeple on top of the sanctuary directs people's attention to God in heaven as they enter to worship. Modern steeples are a remnant of Gothic architecture of the Middle Ages with its pointed arches and soaring spaces that seem to lift the human spirit heavenward. A steeple may be topped with a cross that can be seen for miles around as a constant witness to Jesus Christ. The steeple probably derives from ancient bell towers. Bells were lifted above the landscape so that people could hear them sound the call to worship. Today, many steeples also contain bells and serve both functions.

Sun of Righteousness
The sun is often used as a symbol for Christ, especially as a prophetic symbol.

Mal. 4:2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. (NIV)

Season: Advent


Swan
A swan is sometimes used as a sign of hypocrisy because its beautiful white plumage conceals black flesh beneath.

Sword
The sword has many symbolic uses. It is an emblem, often combined with scales, of the archangel Michael, the captain of the hosts of heaven. It may be used to represent the enmity of unbelievers toward Christians. Portrayed with an open book, it represents the sword of the Spirit, or the word of truth, the gospel. A sword is the emblem of many saints and martyrs, such as St. Paul and others too numerous to name, who died by the sword.

Eph. 6:17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (NIV)