As most may know, the lion is considered to be the “King” of all beasts, due to its great muscular power, agility, and ability to dominate all other species. Many great monarchs and Kings in history would take “Lion” into their title, but none so great as Jesus Christ, the “Lion of Judah”. This title is applied to Christ to symbolize majestic power, victory and courage. In Rev 5:5, we read: “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” This prophecy is fulfilled by Christ’s courageous sacrifice who has won the battle over death, making Him the ultimate King of kings!
In time of famine, a pelican will strike and wound itself, so as to feed its young so they may live. This act has made the pelican a universal symbol for Christ in church history. For we too are fed upon the Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. (Matthew 26:28 - “…for this is the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”).
Many of us know Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, but the symbology of Him riding a donkey is much greater than some may know. To begin, it was prophesied in Zechariah 9:9 (“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: Behold thy King will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.”) This is explicitly fulfilled in all four Gospels (Matthew 21: 2-7), (Mark 11: 2-7), (Luke 19:30-35), (John 12:15). In Genesis 49:11, we also see the symbology in this for Christ’s passion. It reads: Tying his foal to the vineyard, and his ass, O my son, to the vine. He shall wash his robe in wine, and his garment in the blood of the grape. And lastly, the donkey is known as a beast of burden as it is used to carrying both goods and people, and likewise, so Christ carries our burdens.
Lilies & Sparrows
This design implements two Bible passages, referencing the wildflowers and lilies, and sparrows. In Luke 12: 27-28 we read: “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you?”. And in Matthew 10: 29-31 we read: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” These passages remind us to not worry, and to trust in God’s everlasting care.
Axe & Stump
Regarded as one of the greatest missionaries since St. Paul, St. Boniface was known for his extensive travels and evangelization endeavors throughout modern-day Germany. Hearing of the inhabitants in a village called Geismar, Boniface learned that during the winter the people would sacrifice a human, usually a small child, to the Thor god, which was represented by a large oak tree. Boniface desired to convert the village by destroying the Thunder Oak tree, which the pagans had boasted the God of Boniface could not destroy. Gathering a few companions, Boniface and his men journeyed to Geismar to prove them wrong. Boniface and his men arrived at the tree in the midst of the pagan offering and saved a young boy who was about to be sacrificed. Interrupting the gathering, Boniface said, “Here is the Thunder Oak; and here the cross of Christ shall break the hammer of the false god Thor.” Grabbing an axe, Boniface chopped into the mighty tree, and with a strong rushing wind that picked up through the forest, the tree collapsed. The Germans were astounded and immediately converted and baptized. The holy bishop preached the gospel and used a small fir tree behind the felled oak as a tool for evangelization. St. Boniface is a great model for courage and trust in God to live a radical life for Christ.
Cedar of Lebanon
The Cedar of Lebanon is an important, but often times overlooked symbol for our Catholic Faith. These cedar trees can grow to live up to 3,000 years old and are also equipped with a special substance that allows their roots to anchor themselves deep into the rocky ground. The analogy here depicts that when we live by faith, we are enabled by God's grace to weather all forms of difficulty and blossom into the beautiful life God intended. Cedars of Lebanon also have a special characteristic that allows them to survive off neighboring cedars! When many grow in close proximity, often times their branches and foliage will intertwin and merge, meaning if one tree dies its limbs will be supported through the other tree. Lastly, these trees can grow to mighty heights! While they can stretch up to an astounding 120ft height, with 30-50ft branches, these trees grow extremely slow - only 6-12cm a year! This is also only made possible by what we don't see. For every foot of tree you see above ground, its roots below are equal or even doubled in size. This is a great symbol for our life with Christ. Just like any relationship, our lives with Christ takes time and work. It must be fostered, cared for, and cultivated each and every day. For we will only grow as tall as deeply as we are rooted!