– by Adriel Sanchez –
Most of us are familiar with the symbol of the Christian fish. We see it all over the place today on cars (perhaps you have a fish decal) and even in churches. The fish was an ancient symbol of the Christian faith because the Greek word for fish, ἰχθύς(pronounced
Did you know that early on there was a symbol that was even more prevalent than the fish, though? Deep in the catacombs—subterranean graveyards where Christians were buried—the most prevalent image used by the faithful was the image of an anchor. One scholar notes that in the ancient cemetery of Priscilla, just north of Rome, when an image appeared on a gravesite, 70% of the time the image was an anchor (in contrast, the fish appeared only 8% of the time).
Before the early catacombs were filled with fish or crosses, nautical tool was used to encourage believers.
The anchor reminded Christians that their hope was secure in something that transcended this world. It pointed them away from themselves to someone strong and stable that they could be confident in. This is supported by the anchor imagery found in one of the earliest sermons we have, the letter to the Hebrews, dating sometime between 50-70AD. In chapter six the author comments on the