Symbols that were based on animals
We've always been able to learn a lot from the other creatures our God put on this Earth, and it's not surprising that some of them have been used throughout history to provide examples or signify something in our art. Thus, there are a number of Christian symbols that came from the animal kingdom.
Unfortunately, popular folklore played a large part in determining these choices. As time has gone on and our knowledge of animal behavior has increased, many of these old beliefs have been discarded. Today, your average person probably won't know the old tales or be aware of the animal and the qualities it was said to possess. Hopefully this page will provide some light on these sometimes bizarre connections.
You can find the symbols and their meanings arraigned in a table below. If the name of the symbol is a link, then you can follow it to read a tutorial on how to draw that design.
Although a number of insect species live in highly organized and close knit communities, the honor of being the symbol of a strong community fell to the bee and their hive. Like the members of a beehive, the members of a healthy church will work together to bolster and improve the well being of others in their community.
There are several different doves in Christian art, each with its own meaning. When the dove is descending, it's a reference to Christ's baptism. While God spoke from Heaven to praise His Son, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove.
Because this dove represents the Holy Spirit, it is often depicted with a halo.
During times of persecution, the early church needed a way to identify other believers without giving themselves away. As it turns out, the humble fish provided the answer. In Greek, the word "fish" is spelled IXΘYC. This works as a mnemonic, as each letter corresponds to the first letter of each word in the phrase "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior".
To find other believers, one could simply doodle a fish in the sand while talking. Those that didn't know the story behind it would either think it's just a doodle and overlook the message. Taking this one step further, fish could be used to point the way to hidden worship services by having them face the direction the faithful needed to go.
Multiple fish often represent groups of Christians, but sometimes three fish are arraigned in a circle to signify that the Trinity plays a key role in the salvation of believers.