Talk:Saint symbolism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Christianity / Saints / Catholicism / Anglicanism (Rated List-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Christianity, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Christianity on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
 List  This article has been rated as List-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by WikiProject Saints (marked as Top-importance).
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by WikiProject Catholicism (marked as High-importance).
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by WikiProject Anglicanism (marked as High-importance).
WikiProject Visual arts (Rated List-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Visual arts, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of visual arts on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
 List  This article has been rated as List-Class on the quality scale.

Complete listing of saints[edit]

Does anyone know of a good source for more saint symbols? Are there any more?evrik 01:11, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

More sources[edit]

This page has some great information that can be added as well. --evrik (talk) 20:59, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

Delaney, John P. (1980). Dictionary of Saints (Second ed.). Garden City, NY: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-13594-7. 

--evrik (talk) 22:53, 1 November 2015 (UTC)


Symbology isn't really a word. If it was, it would be "study of". Page should be titled Saint symbolism. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 08:59, 10 January 2007

  • Agreed -- this title needs to be changed -- just look at the article on symbology itself. Symbology isn't a word.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 18:11, 27 March 2007
  • Look at this. --evrik (talk) 20:11, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Please change the title to Saint Symbolism, as Symbology is not a word. There can be a distinction between modern and historic uses also, such as the re-use of symbols for new causes or groups. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Agnosis (talkcontribs) 14:55, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Among art historians, we generally just use the term "iconography of saints."Lolliapaulina51 (talk) 16:50, 14 September 2009 (UTC)

Recent move[edit]

The recent move is a slight improvement, but Attributes of Christian saints would be the correct technical name. As explained at Emblem (not by me), the attributes covered here are not symbols in the strict sense of the word, but emblems or attributes, the latter being much the most usual term in the literature. Johnbod (talk) 14:36, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

That sounds good to me. Or perhaps "Iconography of Christian saints?" Though clearly the article treats more than visual depictions alone.--Cúchullain t/c 15:37, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Joan of Arc[edit]

The French Resistance used the Cross of Lorraine as a symbol for Joan of Arc during World War II. Would that be an appropriate addition to this list? Durova 23:34, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

  • I added it. evrik 23:54, 2 March 2006 (UTC)


I've added the Fisheaters site back in as it was a resource used in the delvopment of the article. evrik 15:57, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

I have asked that be removed from the blacklist. --evrik (talk) 15:12, 22 December 2014 (UTC)


This article is not about appearance, but symbology. --evrik (talk) 18:15, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

  • This article is about the means by which images of saints were recognised, of which appearance is in many cases an important element. I would remind you it is in Category Christian iconography. Important saints often did not need symbols to the same extent as other ones, because their conventional appearance was itself part of their iconography. Thus this information belongs in the article.
You have also reverted several additions that are not related to appearance.
Btw it seems pointless to add the very obscure St Iria with the martyr's palm, when there are dozens of commoner female martyr's that are more likely to be depicted than than her. Johnbod 18:28, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
    • The I section needs some more saints because the spacing of the images is all off. This article was started to discuss the symbolism used to recognize the saints, their iconography. I disagree that that we should discuss their appear here, but I am willing to discuss it. DO you have any documentattion about the appearnce of the saints? --evrik (talk) 18:35, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Appearance is very much a part of iconography for several of the most important saints. Symbol is in my view not the correct word for emblems or attributes, as only a few of these were used at all often to represent the saint by themselves, which is what a symbol would do. St James' cockleshell is a symbol, but most of these listed are not, if only because so many are not unique to a single saint (I'm not suggesting the title be changed).

On more recent saints, i'm not sure what the point of saying -as the article did- that the "symbol" of S Carlo Borromeo is "Communion" - which I'm dubious is actually true in any case - when he had a very well-known & distinctive appearance which was the primary means of recognising him in images (apart from his cardinal's robes, which the article didn't mention previously).

On the pictures, would it not be better to show more actual uses of the symbols to identify saints? A gravestone with IHS on it does not represent St Bernadino in any way - nor do most of the objects you show have any connection with the saints they supposedly represent. There are plenty of relevant images on Commons of saints with their attributes. Johnbod 18:58, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

  • Let me say this, I don’t necessarily disagree with you that the way a saint was portrayed was very much part of their identification. This list was intended to list solely those emblems or symbols that the saint might have on their person, or might represent them. The picture at the top is a good example of what I’m talking about (but I can’t really tell them apart ;-) )
I think that the physical descriptions would only serve to clutter up the article, and that the information belongs in the relevant saints article.
I don’t think that the symbols need to be unique, as many of the saints led similar lives. This was not meant to be a listing of what the saints looked like in terms of their facial features or their expressions. St James’ cockleshell is listed because it is a symbol of the saint. I see the words attribute and symbol as synonyms.
Some of the other points, maybe communion was meant to be Eucharist? I don’t know. May of these were taken from the articles themselves.
As for the images. They were added when this was a featured article candidate. I’m not particularly tied to the Christogram, but it is in fact tied to St Bernadino if you look at the article. This article has not featured the pictures of the saints, because those photos belong in the article. I think the only exception was the breasts of St. Agatha. Anyway, I welcome your participation in in the expansion of the article. I would like to see it get featured one day. --evrik (talk) 20:16, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
To me - and I think in dictionary meanings, although the word is often used loosely - a symbol should be something that stands for the saint by itself, without any depiction of the figure. So the cockle-shell is one, but most of the items listed are attributes - only used with a figure of the saint, to help identify them. I'd changed the lead a bit, & I'm happy with it now if you are. It doesn't affect the article especially (as I said, I'm not suggesting changing the title), but does impact a bit on the pictures. Yes the IHS (with radiant surround) is accociated with St Bernadino, but also with Ignatius and Constantine & is also a general Christian symbol, which I'm sure is what it is doing on this grave-stone (with no radiant surround). So a picture of St Bernadino with his symbol would illustrate the article better I think. There aren't many (non-modern) saints who have a consistent physical appearance, apart from clerical costume for monks, bishops etc, which should certainly be mentioned more. I think I had added the most important ones (Peter, John the Baptist and Evangelist). You might bear in mind that when this is the case, as with St Peter, it is often because of very ancient tradition in the church, and these depictions are usually much older than many of the attributes, some of which have a Biblical rationale, but many of which come from late legendary accretions. You can always identify at least St Peter and St John in Last Suppers etc, and not because they are carrying the attributes you list - the need for the most important apostles to be identifiable in narrative scenes (where they could not carry the clobber of attributes) was itself a reason for giving them a distinctive appearance as an attribute.
Having got the article this far, it seems sensible to me to make it a comprehensive article on how saints on altarpieces etc were distinguished, and can be identified. Clothing is certainly an attribute in this sense, and for the best-known saints facial appearance also. I'm not so wedded to the modern saints, but I think there should maybe be a code or symbol in the article to indicate that some saints were mainly identified by their actual historical appearance, which, as you say can be picked up from their articles (one hopes). As another example, re clothes, it is just misleading to say the attribute (or symbol) of Raphael is a fish. Firstly it is not; he is shown in pictures of "Tobias and the angel" next to Tobias who is carrying a fish, but that is as far as it goes, at least until the Baroque period. By himself his attributes are that he is an archangel, with large wings, often armour, or the usual distinctive version of Byzantine imperial clothes. Search on him at Google images & see.
If you want to make this a featured article, which will I'm afraid be hard as lists are looked at suspiciously by many editors, I think it should be made as comprehensive and "added value" as possible. Johnbod 22:54, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
  • This wasn't meant to be an article, but a list. I support you if you want to develop an article. --evrik (talk) 20:16, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
Well list then, but really I think all the same considerations apply. Johnbod 21:13, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Did you know that {{Infobox Saint}} links to this page from the attribute box? I think that whatever we do we should keep the prose lean and spare, and make sure it is also in the article. --evrik (talk) 19:11, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
  • No I didn't - is there an actual link, or does it have to be updated manually? Johnbod 22:54, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
  • The link from the box sends people here. Each box has to be maintained manually. --evrik (talk) 23:03, 29 March 2007 (UTC)


What do people think about breaking out Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? Perhaps also the apostles? --evrik (talk) 19:12, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

We already have Four Evangelists and Evangelist portrait which cover the main 4 Evangelist symbols pretty well. On the whole it seems best to keep all the saints together. What had you in mind exactly? Johnbod 22:57, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

  • I like those. I'll add them to the See also. --evrik (talk) 23:02, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Saint Francis Xavier[edit]

Francis Xavier is listed both under the Letter X and the letter F. And the symbols in the two listings don't match up at all!!! -- Cimon Avaro; on a pogostick. 02:49, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

  • Fixed. --evrik (talk) 15:21, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:SVH06 2.jpg[edit]

Nuvola apps important.svg

Image:SVH06 2.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale. Using one of the templates at Wikipedia:Fair use rationale guideline is an easy way to insure that your image is in compliance with Wikipedia policy, but remember that you must complete the template. Do not simply insert a blank template on an image page.

If there is other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images lacking such an explanation can be deleted one week after being tagged, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.

BetacommandBot (talk) 07:17, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Removal of Jesus of Nazareth[edit]

I removed this addition for a number of reasons. First, Christians don't see Jesus as a saint, but as the Son of God. Secondly, the examples included were aspects of Christ's life, not symbols per se. Finally, the symbology of Christ is far too lengthy and complex for this page; there are so many items and animals seen as symbolic of Christ that they would require their own separate article. Kafka Liz (talk) 02:04, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

It's ironic that the Son of God (or God Himself depending on who you ask) isn't considered a saint, I certainly consider Him one. Not all of the saints are human, may I remind you that many of the saints are angels. No these are things that Jesus is often depicted with (obviously they're going to be things from His life!) I suppose technically you're right, but I still think he should be listed here. --IdLoveOne (talk) 19:30, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
It is not ironic.. He is GOD. Not a saint. Saints are not of any divine nature. --Willthacheerleader18 (talk) 22:16, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

Blessed Virgin Mary[edit]

Why is the Blessed Virgin Mary not included in this article? She is the most important of the saints according to Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox teachings. --Willthacheerleader18 (talk) 22:17, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

AGREE! I have been looking for info about symbolic poses of her statues for ages, come here, and can't even find a MENTION of her! Sign me Flabbergasted. 19:29, 7 April 2011 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Edited by IP:[edit]

IP added this to bottom of the article, and I feel like it would make more sense to put it in the talk page, in order that someone may explore the resource recommended. Tradereddy (talk) 15:15, 8 January 2016 (UTC)