Symbols in the Church
 
A symbol is something that makes us think about something else. It is said that early Christians did not think it reverent to write the names of God or Jesus in full, so they made different symbols for them.  There are various symbols in the carvings, embroideries and stained glass of the church.

Symbols of God

A Symbol of God the Father
A hand coming from a cloud, or a hand raised in blessing.

Symbols of God the Son, Jesus Christ
IHS or IHC - the first three letters of the Greek for Jesus (IHCOYC).
INRI - the initial letters of the Latin words for 'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews' (IESUS NAZARENUS REX IUDAEORUM). This was the inscription which Pilate wrote and put on the cross (see John 19, v. 19).
XP - the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ (XPICTOC).

IHS
IHC
IHS
IHC
IHS
IHS
IHC
IHS
IHC
IHS

INRI
INRI
XP
Candle
XP

Symbols of God the Holy Spirit
A dove was seen at the baptism of Jesus. It is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. A dove with a halo, or a sevenfold flame, are symbols of the Holy Spirit's power (see Acts 2, v. 1-4).

God the Holy Spirit God the Holy Spirit
God the Holy Spirit

The Trinity

Christians believe that the One God is made up of three Persons or aspects, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This godhead is called the Trinity or the Triune (three-in-one) God. Think of it as a clover leaf which has three parts to it. The symbols of the Trinity always have three parts.

The Father is the creator of all things; Jesus Christ, his only son, is the redeemer or saviour of all people; the Holy Spirit blesses everyone and everything and makes them holy.
Trinity

Crosses and Candles


A Cross is the most important Christian symbol and reminds us that Jesus died for us. Candles are lit during services.
Candles show that Christ is the 'Light of the world' (John 8:12).


Cross

Cross Cross Altar Cross
Candle
Candle

Alpha and Omega

Alpha and Omega (A and O) are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. They mean the beginning and the end and so remind us that God is the beginning and the end of all things and suggest his everlasting nature (see Revelation 1, v. 8).

Alpha and Omega
Alpha and Omega
Alpha and OmegaAlpha and Omega

Cockle Shells

Cockle shells are on the beaches in Northern Spain where Saint James’s relics were brought on the way to lie in Compostela. They were adopted as symbols of Saint James from Medieval times up until the present day.

The Shell of St. James
The Shell of St. James
The shell over the vicarage door
The Shell of St. James

Bread and Wine

In communion, the bread and wine have an important meaning. Christians break up some bread to remember the body of Jesus was 'broken' on the cross. Christians drink red wine to remember that Jesus bled when he died for us.

Grapes and wine
Wheat and bread

Trees, Shrubs and Flowers

Some of the trees, shrubs and flowers growing in the churchyard have long been thought to have a symbolic meaning. They remind us of things connected with the Christian faith. See the Churchyard page.

St James's Church Quizzes

• Print out and fill in our St James's Symbols Quiz


The Parish Church of St. James, Hampton Hill, TW12 1DQ
Main site: stjames-hamptonhill.org.uk