One of the most mysterious concepts to humanity, explaining the Holy Trinity proves to be rather difficult to explain, except with the help of symbols. In Christian faith, the Holy Trinity holds a lot of importance and its knowledge is passed down to generations. This is a symbol of unity that includes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three symbols represent God.
The Holy Trinity has been around ever since Christianity came into being. Over time, the symbols have evolved to represent and celebrate this divine concept.
In this article, you will learn about the different symbols of the Holy Trinity.
Table of Contents
What is the Holy Trinity?
By definition, Trinity means three. Hence, the Holy Trinity consists of the Father (God), the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit (also called the Holy Ghost). Everywhere in the Bible, Christians learn that God is not one thing. It is found that God uses His spirit to talk to his creation.
This means that even though there is only one God that Christians believe in, He uses other parts of Himself to send messages to the believers.
God comprises three entities. Each entity is not different from the other and all of them love their creation. They are eternal and powerful together. However, if one part of the Holy Trinity disappears, all the others will fall apart as well.
Many people also use mathematics to explain the Holy Trinity. It is not seen as a sum (1+1+1= 3) but rather, how each number multiples to form a whole number (1x1x1= 1). The three numbers form a union, representing the Holy Trinity.
Symbols of the Holy Trinity
The Holy Trinity is a rather abstract idea that is difficult to explain, which is why one cannot find a single symbol that would encapsulate its beauty perfectly either. Hence, over the years, a number of symbols appeared as a representation of the Trinity in its full capacity.
Below are some of the most ancient symbols of the Holy Trinity that have become the official representation of the Trinity in some era:
The triangle is the oldest symbol of the Holy Trinity that has been around for centuries. It has three sides, just like a regular triangle, but each side points to the co-equality of the Trinity.
Moreover, it represents that even though God is represented in three different ways, there is only one God at the end of the day.
The Trinity is ever-powerful and its nature is ever-lasting. This is represented by how each line connects to one another. The stability, balance, and simplicity of the triangle points to the characteristics of God.
The fleur-de-lis symbolizes a lily, which in turn symbolizes the day of resurrection. It is believed that the purity and whiteness of the lily represents the mother of Jesus, Mary.
The French monarchy used the fleur-de-lis as they viewed it as a symbol of the Holy Trinity. In fact, this symbol became so well-known in French culture that it was also made a part of the flag of France.
The fleur-de-lis contains three leaves, all of which point to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There is a band at the bottom of the symbol that encapsulates it- this represents how each entity is absolutely divine.
The Trinity knot is also commonly called the triquetra and is picked apart by the leaf shapes that are woven together. The three corners of the knot create a triangle. However, you may sometimes even find a circle right at the center of the shape, showing that life is eternal.
John Romilly Allen, an archaeologist, believed that the Trinity Knot was never meant to become a symbol of the Holy Trinity. According to this 1903 publication, the knot was used to decorate and make jewelry.
However, there is no denying that the Trinity knot has been around for many years. In fact, research has shown that the symbol was carved in old heritage sites and on stones around the world. The Trinity Knot is a symbol found in Celtic art which is why it is believed that it came about in the 7th century.
The concept of the Borromean Rings was first taken from mathematics. This symbol shows three circles that interlock with one another, pointing to divine trinity. If any one of these rings is removed, the entire symbol will fall apart.
The mention of the Borromean Rings first took place in a manuscript found in a city of France in the Municipal Library of Charles. There were various versions of the rings made with three circles creating the shape of a triangle, but one of the circles had the word “unitas” right in the middle.
It symbolizes the belief that even though there is one God, He consists of three Persons who are constantly in communication with one another and are equal to each other. These Persons are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Similar to the triangle, the Borromean Rings, especially the sides, serve as a reminder to Christians that each person in the Trinity is identical and forms the same God. Moreover, since each circle is interlinked with one another, it goes to show the eternal nature of the Trinity.
The Trinity Shield is one of the symbols of the Holy Trinity that portray how every individual of the Trinity is different but is essentially the same God. In a compact diagram, it represents the first part of the Athanasian Creed. The diagram is interconnected by six links and has four nodes that are usually in the shape of a circle.
This symbol was first used by ancient Church leaders as a teaching tool, and today, it explains that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are all part of the same God. However, they are three different entities that complete the Almighty.
Also known as Scutum Fidei, this conventional Christian visual symbol represents various aspects of the Trinity. In ancient France and England, the Shield of Trinity was thought to be the arms of God.
There are a total of twelve propositions that we can view on the symbol. These include:
- God is the Father.
- God is the Son.
- God is the Holy Spirit.
- The Father is God.
- The Son is God.
- The Holy Spirit is God.
- The Son is not the Father.
- The Son is not the Holy Spirit.
- The Father is not the Son.
- The Father is not the Holy Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit is not the Father.
- The Holy Spirit is not the Son.
This symbol has four circles- the three outer circles contain the words Pater, Filius, and Spiritus Sanctus. In the middle of the circle lies the word Deus. Moreover, the outer parts of the Shield of the Trinity contain the letters “is not” (non est), while the inner circles contain the letters “is” (est). It must be kept in mind that the links of the shield are not directional.
Three Leaf Clover (Shamrock)
For centuries, the Shamrock has been thought of as Ireland’s unofficial national flower. According to legend, this symbol was used for education purposed by Saint Patrick to help non-believers who were converting to Christianity to understand the Holy Trinity
The Holy Trinity has popularly been depicted by three-leaf clovers in the past. The symbol of the Shamrock was assigned to St. Patrick, the saint of Ireland, which is why it started to be remembered as the most popular interpretation of the Trinity.
St. Patrick is known to portray a three-leaf clover in his paintings. Moreover, the Shamrock is a wonderful representation of the unity between the three entities of the Trinity. Since the symbol has three parts, it shows God the Father, Jesus the son, and the Holy Spirit. All these are shown united as One.
In the Middle Ages, the Trefoil Triangle was used commonly in art and architecture. Initially, different symbols were placed inside the symbol, such as a dove, dish, and even a hand. It is a perfect representation of the three divine entities of the Holy Trinity.
Even though it bears a resemblance to other symbols because of its three sharp corners, the symbols inside the triangle make it difficult to confuse it with the others. Each of the symbols used inside the Trefoil Triangle represent an entity in the Trinity- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
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