Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lessons in Iconography: The Anchor

The anchor is an ancient Christian symbol of hope in Christ. Given its origin in catacomb imagery, a genre that developed during the earliest persecutions and required some subtlety, the Christian meaning may not be immediately apparent. Yet we find the cross hidden within the symbol: the crosspiece of the anchor reveals the cross of Christ and represents his redemptive action upon that cross, the object of our hope. It is this hope which grounds the Christian, fixing him in place while being buffeted by worldly concerns, uncertainty, even persecution. The anchor of Christian hope prevents us from losing our way or running aground. Often, the symbol of the anchor is accompanied by a fish, one of the earliest symbols of Christ and an embodiment of his self-offering for our sake. The anchor is a timely symbol to contemplate during the Advent season, as we watch in hope for Christ's coming at Christmas, and anticipate his second coming in glory.

Rachel Ross
Curator of Art