The are some interesting symbols around the church. What do they mean?

Rose Window at Grace Church in Chillicothe Close up of Cross and Altar Window at Grace Church in Chillicothe

We're glad you asked. Prior to the 20th Century, few people could read. As a result, the Church used pictures, stained glass windows and other objects to remind people of important facts about the Christian Story and Life.

Most Episcopal Churches have red doors. These symbolize the tongues of flame that appeared over the Disciples heads at Pentecost.(Acts 2:2-4) They are also a reminder of the martyrs who have given their lives for the proclamation of the Gospel.

The letters IHS do not mean "In His Service" as many believe. Originally written as IHC, they are a monogram for Jesus. It represents the first three letters of IHCOYC (Iesous) or, in today's world, Jesus. (In ancient Greek, the capital C became an s in lower case!)

The triangle and three interlocking rings (the triquetra) stand for the Holy Trinity: three equal circles interwoven to symbolize continuity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Creator, Redeemer, Comforter).

Milbank Memorial Window at Grach Church, Chillicothe Descending Dove Window at Grace Church, Chillicothe

The butterfly represents the Resurrection.

The descending doves stand for the decent of the Holy Spirit. (John 1:32; Luke 3:22 ;Mark 1:10-11; Matthew 3:16-17)

The wheat and grapes stand for the Holy Eucharist and for the gifts of God.

The anchor is an ancient Christian symbol for steadfastness in faith and the Hope in Christ (Hebrews 6:17). It also represents boats or fishers of men.(Matthew 3:19; Mark 1:17)

The fish is an ancient symbol for Christians. The first three letters of the Greek word for fish, ICAITHUS, are the same as the initial letters in Greek for "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior". Further, the fish ties us to Peter, Andrew and the other disciples who were originally fishers. Ancient Christians used this symbol to identify each other and to mark their meeting places.

Anchor Wondow at Grace Church, Chillicothe Crown of Revelation Window, Grace Church, Chillicothe

The lily and its symbolic counterpart, the fleur-de-lis, symbolize purity.The trifold appearance of the lily reminds us of the Holy Trinity. The Easter lily, which blooms from a seemingly lifeless bulb, is symbolic of Christ's Resurrection.

A modern figure is the dogwood flower, a symbol of Christ's Passion. One legend tells that the wood of a dogwood tree was used to make the Cross of Christ. The tree was so ashamed that it asked to be changed into a tress that could never crucify again.

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Painted glass window at Grace Church, Chillicothe

The daisy stands for the Christ Child.

Palm fronds indicate Victory. They also keep Palm Sunday in front of us all year.

Daughters of the King Window, Donated by the John Waterman Chapter, #45, Grace Church, Chillicothe

The Rose of Sharon, Lilies of the Valley and other flowers represent the flowers in

Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
(Matthew 27-29)

If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
(Luke 12: 26-28)

Detail of the Center of the Sunday School Window (at right)

The lamb with a banner represents the "Lamb of God". Reclining on a book with seven seals, it stands for the Last Judgment. (Revelation 5:11) Standing with a banner, it represents the risen Christ's triumph over death. (John 1:29; Genesis 22:9)

Painted Glass Window donated by the Sunday School Class

The Alpha and Omega signs, the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet, represent Revelation 1:8 "I an the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty" (NIV)

A crown is a symbol of royal authority, often representing Christ the King of Kings.(1 Timothy 6:13) It may also represent the "crown of life", the unending reward of the faithful.(Revelation 2:10) Three crowns together represent the Three Wise Men of the Nativity.

A crown and scepter together indicate Christ's reign over all of creation.(Genesis 49:10; Hebrews 1:8b)

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Candles stand for Jesus words, "I am the Light of the World." (John 8:12) Two candles on the Altar stand for Jesus divine and human nature.

The number seven and multiples of seven stand for a number of things including

Altar Windows on Good Friday Altar Windows at Grace Church

The seven Churches of Asia
The seven days of the week, especially The Lord's Day
The roots of Judaism (The Menorah)
Perfection and rest
The seven seals of the book of Life
The seven Guardian Angels of the Seven Churches of Asia
The seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit:

Wisdom
Understanding
Counsel
Might
Fear of the Lord
Delight in the Lord
Hope in the Lord

The keys in an x-shape indicate the authority of the church to forgive sins. They also, when together, indicate St. Peter's ability to unlock heaven for the repentant and to lock the gates of heaven against the unrepentant. (Matthew 16:18)

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