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The tablets of stone are a picture of the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai. They may be used to represent the whole of God's law, the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible, the Torah), or the entire Old Testament. The Ten Commandments are usually portrayed three on the left (which refer to people's relationship with God) and seven on the right (which refer to people's relationships with others).

Exod. 31:18 When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God. (NIV)

The thistle is a symbol of temporal sorrow and the curse of sin from the story of the Fall. Because the thistle is a thorny bush, it is often portrayed as the source of Christ's crown of thorns. Because thistles flourish to crowd out useful crops, they have also been used to represent the "tares" or weeds written of in Matthew 13.

Gen. 3:17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. (NIV)

Matt. 13:24 Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 "The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 28 " 'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 29 " 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.' " (NIV)

The torch is primarily used as a symbol of Christ's Passion, and is sometimes used as a symbol for certain martyrs.

The tower, or fortress, is a symbol of God our Refuge. It may also be used as a symbol of Saint Barbara, who ordered that her tower be built with three windows instead of two to signify the Trinity.

Ps. 94:22 But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. (NIV)

See Cathedral Floor Plan.

Tree of Jesse
See Branch.

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

The trefoil is a stylized shamrock, which St. Patrick used to illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity. It is a single design composed of three joined circles, which represent eternity, signifying one God in three Persons.

Early symbolic representations of the Trinity are rare, but the triangle is probably the first. Like other trinitarian symbols, it represents one God in three Persons. The doctrine of the Trinity comes first from the story of Jesus' baptism, where the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are each uniquely present. Jesus himself stated the doctrine in the Great Commission.

Luke 3:21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." (NIV)

Matt. 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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)

Trinity Shield
The Shield of the Trinity is often used in catechisms and other forms of Christian education to illustrate the triune nature of the Godhead. The Father (Pater), Son (Filius) and Spirit (Spiritu) are distinct persons, but they are all one God (Deus).

The triquetra is an early trinitarian design found especially in the British Isles. Its three equal arcs represent equality, its continuous line expresses eternity, and the interweaving represents indivisibility.

The trumpet is a symbol of the Last Judgment, the resurrection, and the call to worship. Trumpets call to mind the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho (Joshua 6) and of Gideon against the Midianites (Judges 7). Trumpets are associated in the Old Testament with solemn pronouncements of God or in God's presence, of celebration and praise, and of God's people going into battle.

Joel 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. (NIV)

Matt. 24:30 "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (NIV)