Signs & Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols
by Mike Aquilina
illustrated by Lea Marie Ravotti
Our Sunday Visitor ©2008
The early Christian Church survived hostility and persecution by using a variety of symbols to share their beliefs and stealthly decorate their tombs and places of worship. Simple, yet very special, these artistic creations became a symbolic language that was a silent witness to the faith of our early Christian ancestors.
Our key to understanding the early-Christian use of symbols can be summed up in a single word: typology.
Typology is the discernment of “typical” patterns of God’s activity throughout salvation history.
In Signs & Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols, Aquilina presents in-depth analysis of 25 ancient Christian symbols:
Fish • Orant • Shepherd • Vine • Philosopher • Phoenix • Dolphin • Peacock • Milk • Lamp • Moses • Plow • Vessels • Lamb • Dove • Bread and Sheaves • Crown • Banquet • Lighthouse • Ankh • Cross • Anchor • Ships and Boats • Labarum (Chi-Rho) • Alpha and Omega
By referencing ancient and modern Church documents, he explains the connection between pagan, Jewish, and Christian symbols.
A symbology is a system of symbols, a kind of language. And a language, even a visual language. sets a kind of boundary for a people or a nation. It includes the natives (baptized) and excludes the aliens (pagans). Recovering a common Christian language, we can recover a sense of the nearness or our ancestors, the immediacy of the family we call the Communion of Saints.
This is a beautiful little book. The design, typography, and illustrations are exquisite, light, and graceful. However, it is not light reading. To fully comprehend the meaning of each symbol, take it one chapter at a time. An understanding of these ancient symbols will bring us closer to our Christian roots, and in turn, closer to our Risen Lord.