Article Info

published: 5/24/06
updated: 6/21/13

Pomegranate Symbol



Symbols in Christianity

pomegranate symbol

Pomegranate

Christianity has always incorporated symbols - that is, visual representations and signs - into its practice, as valuable expressions of truth. The depiction of an important element of the faith, by means of an animal or color, for instance, can be powerful and encouraging. What words cannot say, sometimes symbols can. While Christians are known for being people of faith, the religion has produced some of the most beautiful art in history. Whether they be carved on first-century tombs or tatooed on twenty-first century bodies, symbols matter in the Christian religion.

Christians believe that God created human senses - sight, touch, taste, sound, and smell. Of course faith is of utmost importance in Christianity, but the physical abilities God gave people aren't unimportant. It is helpful to understand that the Christian worldview doesn't teach that immaterial and the material are in competition with each other or opposed to each other. in fact, faith experiences can be supported by a sensory experience such as when the Apostle Paul laid hands on people when he prayed for them (Acts 19:4-6).




Pelican imagery in Christianity

The pomegranate is a symbol of the resurrection and the hope of eternal life. Because of its abundance of seeds, it can also symbolize royalty and the church, where the seeds represent the many believers who make up the one universal church.

Madonna of the Pomegranate, detail
Detail of Madonna of the
Pomegranate
by Sandro
Botticelli, 1487. Uffizi
Gallery, Florence.

Madonna of the Pomegranate by Botticelli
Madonna of the Pomegranate
by Sandro Botticelli, 1487.
Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

The pomegranate symbol derives from the ancient myth of Properspina and her annual return to earth in the spring.

Christianity adopted this theme, with the pomegranate associated with the Resurrection of Christ and of believers instead of the annual resurrection of crops.

The seeds bursting forth from the pomegranate are also likened to Christ bursting forth from the tomb.

In Christian art, the pomegranate is often held by the Christ Child in depictions of the Madonna and Child, such as the famous example by Botticelli pictured at right.

Pomegranates are often used in church decorations on the Sundays after Pentecost.

 





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Sources
  1. "Pomegranate." Peter and Linda Murray, Oxford Dictionary of Christian Art (2004).
  2. Patricia S. Klein, Worship Without Words: The Signs and Symbols of Our Faith (2000).
  3. Symbols in Christian Art and Architecture by Walter E. Gast. Top illustration of pomegranate also by Mr. Gast.