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Article Info:
published: 3/17/04
updated: 8/14/14

Square as Christian Symbol



Christian symbols

Square halo in Christian mosaic
Mosaic of Pope Paschal I in Santa Prassede, Rome.

Visual representations and signs - also known as symbols - are very important in the Christian religion. Christians may be called "people of the book" (meaning they are readers of the Bible) and "people of faith" (meaning they believe in unseen things). Still, imagery plays an important role in the Christian life. For instance, symbols incorporating colors, shapes, and numbers, can have significant importance in the right context.

While faith apart from the senses may be of primary importance in Christianity, believers recognize that God is also the creator of the human senses, including sight. Moreover, what is visible and physical can, under the right circumstances, be an aid to faith. For example, when Christians remember the cross of Jesus Christ, in accordance with biblical instruction (e.g. 1 Corinthians 11), they consume bread and wine (or similar elements) at the Lord's Supper.

Faith is thereby supported by a sensory experience.


Pelican imagery in Christianity

In Christian symbolism, a square represents concepts related to the number four, such as the four corners of the earth and the Four Evangelists. (For more on the number four in Christianity see the symbols of numbers, #5 right).

In Christian art, the square is most frequently found as a nimbus (halo), where it denotes a saintly person who was still living at the time of the artwork.

This is based on the identification of the number four with earth or live on earth.

Related Bible Verses

"And the four living creatures said, 'Amen!' and the elders fell down and worshiped."

~ Revelation 5:14

"After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree."

~ Revelation 7:1

"...and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth."

~ Acts 10:11

"And the angel answered and said to me, “These are going out to the four winds of heaven, after presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth."

~ Zechariah 6:5

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Sources
  1. "halo." Peter and Linda Murray, Oxford Dictionary of Christian Art (2004).
  2. Symbols in Christian Art and Architecture by Walter E. Gast. Top illustration of the square also by Mr. Gast.


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