Colours for Special Seasons


For the season of Advent, violet ground, with red and white letters.


For Lent, a warm or pinkish-grey ground, letters all white, with black edges.


Long scrolls for festivals have the best effect with white ground. Short scrolls look very handsome with gold letters upon red or blue ground.

Ground Tints.

The tint of the ground-colours must, in a great measure, depend upon the light in which they will be seen. In some cases crimson is preferable to scarlet, and the blue or violet, if placed in a dark part of the church, would require to be much paler than usual.



To those who prefer concentrating all possible beauty of decoration on the sacred words of a text the most approved border will be that resembling "a riband of blue," which is most simple in execution. Rule a line rather less than a quarter of an inch from the edge of the cardboard, and fill it in carefully and steadily with colour. The ruled line is indispensable to the preservation of a neat and uniform edge. If blue already predominate in the scroll, red can be substituted in the border; gold, without a coloured outline on each side, always looks indistinct. Lines of colour may be drawn within the edge, using a reed pen (or large soft quill), and the long ruler.


A triple trefoil in each corner, coloured, with gold edge, has a good effect, if the letters are very plain: these should, however, be in addition  to a plain coloured edge or border.—Ornamental borders should consist of suitable sprays wound round a thick bar, which gives an appearance of solidity, the grace of curved lines being much enhanced by contrast with the perpendicular or horizontal.

Reverse Side of Scrolls.

If the scroll is meant to represent a riband curled at the ends, or folded, the reverse side may be ornamented with gold stars, or foliage. Plainly shaded blue, with perhaps a narrow gold edge, will, however, be found most suitable; if prominent colours are gaudily used for the reverse side of the riband, it will appear to come forward, leaving the text in the background.

Specimens of differently shaped scrolls are affixed to each of our chapters.

Firmness essential.

In conclusion, it cannot be too strictly enforced, that every line, straight or curved, should be firmly  drawn, and the edges, in painting, be kept perfectly neat and clear. Whether from unsteadiness in outline, or from a shaking hand when painting (especially in gold), nine-tenths of the amateur illuminations produced have a quivering ruggedness about them which could well be dispensed with. In ornamental finish, also, this unsteadiness is almost universal, so that the points of small leaves, or fleurs-de-lys, instead of being sharply defined, most frequently degenerate into unsightly loops, similar to the following example.

As it should be.
As it generally is.

Sacred Monograms

Acts, iv. 12.
There is none other Name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

It is surprising how much the real meaning of the letters IHS, or IHC, has been lost sight of, emblazoned as it is on the pulpit-coverings, altar-cloths, and windows of our Churches. The interpretation has been guessed at, or supposed to signify the initial letters of the following sentences:—"Jesus Hominum Salvator "—Jesus, Saviour of men. "Inspiration  (of the) Holy Spirit ;" or, "Jesus Humanitatis Consolator "—Jesus, Comforter of mankind. None of these interpretations are correct.

On the tombs of the early Christians, in the Roman catacombs, these letters (ΙΗΣ) were sometimes found (though not so frequently as the next monogram). They are, in the Greek character, the first three letters of the sacred name of Jesus— ΙΗΣΟΥΣ. The third letter, sigma, had in early Greek two forms, C and Σ; hence the apparent variety in what is really one and the same Monogram.

The second Monogram, now rarely seen, but formerly much employed in memorial inscriptions, is called the Cross of Constantine. It consists of the two Greek characters, Χ and Ρ. Χ stands for, or is equivalent to, our CH; Ρ, the Greek rho, is translated by our letter R: thus we have the equivalent of the first three letters of the sacred name of Christ —in Greek, ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ.

It is related, on the authority of Eusebius, that the Emperor Constantine, while engaged in prayer, suddenly saw this sign in the sky, and that it was also visible to his whole army; over the sign was an inscription signifying "Conquer by this," or, "In this sign thou shalt conquer" (In hoc signo vinces ). On the same night the Emperor had a dream—a vision of the Saviour  appearing to him with the same sign, commanding him thenceforth to bear it on his banner, whereby he should always be victorious. In obedience to this revelation, the Emperor immediately caused such a banner to be constructed, and afterwards wore the sacred sign upon his helmet. This banner was called a labarum, of which we find the following brief account in Fosbrooke's Encyclopædia of Antiquities :—

"The name, but not the thing, commences with Constantine. It is a standard, with a cross-piece, from which hung a piece of stuff. The Romans borrowed it from the Germans, Dacians, &c.; and upon coins of Augustus, and the emperors preceding Constantine, it refers to some conquered nation. It had an eagle painted or embroidered, till Constantine, who added the cross, monogram of Jesus Christ, and Α and Ω" (Alpha and Omega: see Rev. i. 8). "Sometimes, above the flag, was a crown, in the midst of which was the monogram mentioned. From the cross-piece hung a square stuff, upon which Constantine placed the figures of himself and his children in gold."

The above is an original example of the two Monograms combined, well suited for illumination.

The following is a beautiful illustration, in a simple form, of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in Unity:—

Read thus:[21] "Pater non est Filius. Filius non est Sanctus Spiritus. Sanctus Spiritus non est Pater. Pater est Deus. Filius est Deus. Sanctus Spiritus est Deus."

[21]The Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not the Father. The Father is God . The Son is God . The Holy Spirit is God .

Emblematic Illumination

The accompanying emblematic initial letters are suitable in illuminating the following (and similar) texts of Holy Scripture:—

A  With the cross and lily,
"He shall give His Angels charge over thee."—Ps. xci. 11.

A  With the cross, heart, and anchor,
"An Anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast."—Heb. vi. 19.

B  With St. Andrew's cross,
"Be ye also patient."—Jam. v. 8.

C  With the cross,
"Take up thy Cross daily."—See St. Luke, ix. 23.

D  With the wheat and vine,
"Do this in remembrance of Me."—St. Luke, xxii. 19.

E  With the cross and trefoil,
"Enter ye in at the strait gate."—St. Matt. vii. 13.

F  With the shield of faith,
"Fear not, I will help thee."—Isa. xli. 13.
"Faith worketh by Love."—See Gal. v. 6.

G  With trefoils,
"My help cometh of GOD."—Ps. vii. 11.

H  With lilies of the valley,
"Be clothed with humility."—1 Pet. v. 5.

I  With monogram, trefoils, and crown,
"I am the Resurrection and the Life."—St. John, xi. 25.
"I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."—St. Matt, xxviii. 20.

I  With lily, cross, and trefoils,
"My peace I give unto you."—St. John, xiv. 27.

K  With the cross and trefoils,
"Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty: they shall behold the Land that is very far off."—Isa. xxxiii. 17.

L  With lilies of the valley (foundation colour red ),
"Lay hold on Eternal Life."—1 Tim. vi. 12.

L  With lilies of the valley (foundation colour blue ),
"Learn of Me , for I am Meek and Lowly in heart."—St. Matt. xi. 29.

M  With the cross and crown,
"My Peace I give unto you."—St. John, xiv. 27.

N  "The Night is far spent, the Day is at hand."—Rom. xiii. 12.

O  With the cross,
"Occupy till I come."—St. Luke, xix. 13.

P  With dove and lilies,
"Peace I leave with you."—St. John, xiv. 27.

R  With the cross,
"Repent ye: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."—St. Matt. iii. 2.

S  With the holy dove, cross, and lilies of the valley,
"Suffer the little children to come unto Me."—St. Mark, x. 14.

S  With St. Andrew's cross and crown,
"So run that ye may obtain."—1 Cor. ix. 24.

T  With the triangles and cross,
"Thou GOD seest me."—Gen. xvi. 13.

V  With lilies,
"Add to your Faith, Virtue."—2 Pet. i. 5.

W [22] With trefoils,
"What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter." —St. John, xiii. 7.

Y [23] With the cross,
"Feed My  Sheep."—St. John, xxi. 16.

[22]The second half of this letter forms U.

[23]This letter is given in reduced size, being most useful together with the M; it will be found to correspond in height with the alphabet of small letters, which are proportioned to any of the foregoing emblematic capitals, excepting the G and T. The pronouns My  and Me , when referring to the Deity, should always be in capitals, the second of which may be of smaller dimensions.

Illuminating in Oil-Colours on Zinc for Churches

Isa. lx. 13.
To beautify the place of My Sanctuary.

The following materials are required:—



Zinc, in strips, average price 10 d. per square foot.

Oil paints, &c.

Oil-paints, in tubes.
Vermilion, 6 d. }
Crimson lake, 4 d. } these may be mixed.
French ultramarine, 1 s.
Blue black, 4 d.
Emerald green, 4 d.
Ivory white, 4 d. This cream-coloured white has the richest and best effect.
1 Bottle of pale drying oil, 6 d.
1 Bottle of spirits of turpentine, 6 d.


Brushes—Red sable, various sizes, from 4 d. to 1 s. 2 d. each.

Palette, &c.

A wooden palette, 1 s. 6 d.
A palette-knife, 1 s. 6 d.
Tailor's chalk, or "pipe-clay," 2 d.
A carpenter's 2-foot rule, 1 s. or 1 s. 6 d.


In churches where the walls are damp, or otherwise unsuited for receiving colour, it is found that zinc is an excellent material for illuminating texts from Holy Scripture, to be fixed to the wall when completed. This method is much less expensive than painting in fresco.

Foundation Coat of Paint.

Zinc can be procured of any ordinary plumber, at an average price of 10 d. per square foot; it requires no particular preparation for illuminating, excepting a foundation-colour (or ground), which can be laid on by any house-painter far better than by the amateur. This should be done at the workshop, as the smell of so large a body of paint would be very injurious to those unaccustomed to it.

Tints to match or contrast.

The foundation-colour should either match the tint of the wall to which the scroll will be affixed, or present a decided contrast. Care must be taken in matching the colour of a plastered wall, that the paint should be lighter  in tint, as it has a tendency to darken, while the plaster is likely to become rather lighter, especially in new buildings.

Foundation-colours, &c. suitable to particular seasons of the Church will be enumerated at the end of this article.

Size of Letters.

The size, shape, and length of a scroll must, of course, vary with the position it is intended to occupy. In a text composed entirely of capitals, the size of the letters should be about half the depth of the zinc: the latter being 6 inches, including the border, the capitals would be 3 inches high. Small letters would bear, of course, their usual proportion, as in other illuminations.  Distinctness.It is quite a mistaken idea that the larger the printing, the plainer will be the text; clearness is rather attained by keeping the letters close to each other, and leaving a sufficient space between each word. It will be found, as a general rule, that, with the exception of the letter I, all capitals are contained in a square—if 3 inches high, 3 wide. It is very useful to bear this in mind in calculating the number of words to be printed in a given space, especially when it is difficult to judge of the effect till complete. Texts for large churches, to be placed round arches, or at any great height, are generally printed in capitals.

Outlines to be traced.

Outlines should not be drawn upon the zinc in the first instance, but upon a strip of paper (which may be several sheets pasted together at the edges), wider than the scroll, so that it may be folded firmly over it, and the letters traced, as already explained (page 7). Any thin common paper answers for this purpose: tissue would be too thin. Tracing is recommended, because the process of erasing pencil-marks, although easily effected with spirits of turpentine, is apt to leave a smear, and spoils the smooth clearness of the foundation-colour.


On a dark-coloured ground the following method is pursued. Draw the text, as usual, on common cartridge-paper (3 or 4 inches wider than the zinc, so that the edges may be turned down firmly over it): with pointed scissors cut the letters out and put them aside, as they are not required: lay the remaining paper-groundwork on the zinc, and with red or white tailor's pipe-clay trace carefully round the outlines of the spaces which form the letters. When all are traced, remove the paper, and with a handkerchief brush away, very  lightly, the superfluous chalk.

Dry Foundation-Colours.

Special care must be taken not to begin the lettering until the foundation-colour be perfectly hardened, otherwise the pressure of the pencil will make indented lines which cannot be removed, should correction be necessary. In cold, damp weather, the paint dries and hardens very slowly, so that the foundations should be prepared at least a week before they are required for illuminating.

To paint the Letters.

In proceeding to paint the letters, squeeze out a small quantity of the colour on to the wooden palette, and with the flexible palette-knife mix it with a little of the pale drying oil, and a very little spirits of turpentine. The latter can  be dispensed with, if the smell of it be found injurious; otherwise it contributes to brighten the colours, and makes them dry more quickly. In painting keep the brush full, laying on the colour in long steady sweeps, not in short, hasty touches, which would leave irregularities of surface.


Spirits of turpentine, used alone, will serve to remove the colour, if correction be necessary; but care must be taken not to apply enough to remove the foundation-colour at the same time. If a wrong colour be accidentally applied, another can be painted over it, but, of course, this should be avoided if possible.


Gold-leaf is applied in the manner already explained (page 9), but with oil  gold-size. Plain vermilion, used in the same way as size, is said to answer the purpose equally well. Bessemer's gold paint only answers for a time, as it soon becomes discoloured on metal.

Number of Coats of Paint.

Letters painted in white will require three coats of colour; in blue and green, at least two; in black, two coats.[11] Vermilion is generally brighter if laid on in sufficient quantity at once, without retouching.

The writer has occasionally had the colours mixed for use by a village-painter, but this would only be done on an emergency.

Best Colours for Effect.

For effect, it is best not to employ many colours; red and black, with a little  blue or green, invariably look best at a distance.

Quatrefoil Border.

Elaborate borders on zinc scrolls are quite unsuitable; an edge of quatrefoil  (three-quarters of an inch in depth), or something equally simple, having by far the best effect; this also must not be placed too near the letters, or it will interfere with the distinctness of the text. The border should be drawn at the edge of the zinc, unless the ground-colour contrast with the wall, in which case a narrow margin may be left.

To clean Palette and Brushes.

The palette and brushes must be washed quite clean after daily use, with spirits of turpentine. If the paint is allowed to harden (as it will in a few hours), it cannot be removed.


For the preservation of health, this description of illuminating should, in summer, be carried on with widely-opened windows, and in winter beside a large fire, which purifies the air of the room, and prevents the smell of the turpentine, &c. from being injurious to delicate persons.

[11]Each coat must be allowed to dry before another is laid on. The time will vary according to damp or dry weather.


Materials for Colouring.

The materials required are as follows:—


1. Blue  (intense). German (or French) blue, in powder, at 6 d. per ounce. It is at first rather troublesome to use, requiring to be mixed with plenty of gum-water, to prevent rubbing.

Smalt, 5 s.; or French blue, 3 s.[7] These are prepared as moist colours in covered pans.

The German blue, however, is the most economical, and very useful.


2. Red. What is called "Carmine" powder, at 1 s. per oz., will be found very useful, but the genuine colour is much more expensive. Vermilion, ditto, 6 d. per oz. Both of these are necessary.


3. Purple  (violet). For the colour ready prepared, "violet carmine," moist cake, 2 s. To compose the colour, crimson lake, a little to be mixed with cobalt blue. This is very rarely used.


4. White. Chinese white, in a tin tube, 1 s. This is little used except on tinted cardboard.


5. Green  (emerald). Moist colour, 1 s.


6. Black  (lamp). Ditto.


7. Grey. For bright grey, smalt mixed with Chinese white; for a duller tint add a very little brown madder. This is a colour seldom used in illuminating large scrolls, and only suitable for grounding.

Neutral Tint.

A cake of neutral tint  (to mix with cobalt) for shading white flowers, or a white dove.


Gold. For beginners, "Bessemer's Gold Paint."[8] Bessemer's Gold Paint. This includes two bottles, one of gold powder, the other of oil; price 1 s. 6 d. The powder always outlasts the oil, but the latter can be bought separately, 6 d. per bottle. Very little of the powder and oil must be mixed at a time, as it dries up very quickly, requiring the occasional addition of a drop of the oil. If too much oil is added, the gold will look thin and poor, leaving greasy edges on the cardboard. It is a good plan to employ two little saucers, placing the powder in one and oil in the other.

Spirits of Turpentine.

A small quantity of spirits of turpentine  is required, with which the brush and saucer must be washed perfectly clean, immediately after use; wipe them dry with a piece of rag or soft paper. If this rule be neglected, the gold hardens, and brush and saucer become useless.

Shell Gold.

Shell gold (with which water only is employed) is not suitable for large works.

Liquid Gold.

Chinese metallic ink, or liquid gold 1 s. per bottle, is an excellent preparation. When thoroughly mixed by shaking, pour a little into a small saucer, stirring it up each time the brush is filled. At first, great care is requisite to prevent blots. It works most easily when nearly dry, by the addition of a little water in the brush.

Water-gold Size.

Leaf-gold is considered the most durable, is beautifully bright, and repays the trouble of its application. A "book" containing 25 leaves costs 1 s. 6 d., or 100 leaves for 4 s. Water-gold size  seems to be the simplest preparation, 1 s. 6 d. per box. This size is used like a moist colour, with water. Paint the surface to be gilded, smoothly and rather thickly, carefully preserving the edges clear and sharp. Gold-leaf.Let it stand until, on touching the size lightly with the finger, it is found to be sticky, but not moist, so as to smear. While the size is drying, take a piece of common writing-paper (not too highly glazed), rub it over slightly and briskly with a piece of white wax (in two or three strokes), lay it on a leaf of gold which will adhere to the paper.[9] With a large, sharp  pair of scissors, cut both paper and gold-leaf into a piece rather larger than the surface to be gilded, and the size being just sticky, lay the gold down upon it, keeping the paper still in its place; press it very gently  and smoothly all over with a ball of cotton-wool, as if you were pasting it down: breathe on the paper, then remove it, and let the gold remain undisturbed about half an hour, or longer. Then, with a large, dry brush, in light, sharp touches, brush away the superfluous gold, and the work is completed.

There are other methods of applying gold-leaf, but this is given as the simplest. A gilder's tip (a flat brush) is generally used, but requires skill in handling, which remark applies also to the gilder's palette and knife.

Any corners to which the gold has not adhered may be retouched with the size, and gilded as before. Be careful not to touch the gold with the fingers, or it will be quite spoilt. If the leaf curls up upon the paper, it can be blown down with a gentle breath.

Raised Gold.

There is an "Illuminating Raising Preparation" at 1 s. 6 d. per bottle, which may be found useful, and may be painted over with Bessemer's, or water-gold; it would, however, add to the difficulty of applying gold-leaf, unless the hand were previously well practised.


Silver  is sold in shells; a water-colour, but it quickly tarnishes.


Aluminium is sold in shells (a water-colour), and is a good substitute for silver; although not equal in beauty, it is said not to tarnish. Being a recent discovery, it has not yet had the test of long experience. Aluminium is used in touches upon white flowers, or the emblem of the dove, previously softly shaded with neutral tint. These shell metals cost about 6 d. and upwards.


Saucers, 2 inches in diameter, should be procured for the red and blue powder colours. A smaller saucer, 1 inch in diameter, for Bessemer's gold, will prevent much waste, and another for Chinese white would be useful. Price 1 d. each, or less.


Compound Red.

In proceeding to illuminate the scroll, place a little vermilion-powder, and quite twice as much carmine, in a saucer, with a drop or two of thick gum-water; mix it well with a brush, adding water as required.[10] Stir the paint up now and then during use, as the vermilion has a tendency to sink.

German Blue.

German blue, as already mentioned, must be mixed with a good proportion of gum-water, stirred well into the powder: it is best to mix a little at a time, say half a teaspoonful of the powder, as it hardens, and becomes more troublesome to use. This blue, prepared as a moist  colour, would be most valuable for illuminating, if it did not lose its opacity.

Succession of Colours.

Paint all the black in the scroll first, the red next, and, if German blue, blue last, as, with every precaution, it is apt to rub—in which case, remove the blemishes with crumbs of bread. If the text should consist of two lines, finish the upper one first (all but the gold), to prevent injury to the lower one by rubbing. Fresh water should be provided for each colour, in order to preserve its brightness.

Bessemer's gold paint may be applied last of all, but leaf-gold should be laid on before any  colour.

The following remarks on the subject of ancient illuminations are valuable, having been made by Mr. Ruskin at a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries, held on the 6th of June, 1861. He observed that the best designs were contrived so as to give the greatest effect to arrangements of pure and beautiful colour. He explained the excellence of the best specimens as arising from simplicity of design and colour—the latter being left wholly unclouded by shade. He did not deny the high excellence of the naturalistic treatments in the illuminations of the 15th and 16th centuries and later—but he viewed illumination in this condition as fallen into decay, and by the introduction of shading  was effected the final destruction of what had constituted its essential principles and glory in the 13th century.


Scrolls can be very suitably mounted in frames of plain oak—"Oxford frames"—which cost 3 s. 6 d. each, glass included, the size being about 22 by 6 or 7 inches.

Directions for Packing.

For transmission by railway, &c. cardboard scrolls must be protected either by a thin piece of wood of the same size, or by two pieces of stout millboard, well wrapped round with paper. Even a dozen large scrolls packed together have been ruined for want of these precautions.

[7]Half-cakes of all the colours are sold equally good.

[8]This gold will discolour in time, but with care in keeping the brush and saucer quite clean, it will retain its brightness at least a year.

[9]Another method is to pass the piece of writing-paper sharply and briskly over your hair, two or three times, which, charging it slightly with electricity, will make the paper adhesive, so that the gold-leaf will he taken up by it.

[10]One or two drops of ammonia improves the carmine.

Symbolism of Colours

Isa. liv. II.
Behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours.
Heb. x. 1.

I have ventured to prefix these sacred words to this part of my subject, in order to point out how manifestly the emblematic significance of colour has its foundation and authority in the Holy Scriptures. The fact is first brought to our notice in the inspired account of the making of the Tabernacle, under the Divine commands, and subsequently in the building of the Temple. The colours, numbers, and many other particulars of the Mosaic dispensation, were symbolical types—"a shadow of good things to come," long since fulfilled; but the symbolical application of colours and other types of "heavenly things" is not therefore ended, inasmuch as they are largely so employed throughout the New Testament. These combined facts furnish an argument to my own mind most convincing, that we may, with all reverence, continue to regard colours symbolically, as types of heavenly attributes and virtues.

Mrs. Jameson [12] says, "In very early art we find colours used in a symbolical or mystic sense, and until the ancient principles and traditions were wholly worn out of memory, or set aside by the later painters, certain colours were appropriate to certain subjects and personages, and could not arbitrarily be applied or misapplied. In the old specimens of stained glass, we find these significations scrupulously attended to."

The precise tints of the colours mentioned in the Holy Scriptures must ever be a subject of doubt, but enough can be gathered from ancient writings to bring them within certain degrees of probability. In an interesting article in Dr. Kitto's Cyclopædia of Biblical Literature, we read:—"Josephus evidently takes the Hebrew word," translated "blue," "to mean 'sky-colour,' for, in explaining the colours of the vail of the Temple, and referring to the blue (Exod. xxvi. 31), he says that it represented the air or sky." We must not, however, be led away by our own modern term "sky-blue," which represents a pale colour, but recollect that (to quote again from Dr. Kitto) "in proportion as the sky is clear and serene, it assumes a dark appearance, which is still more observable in an eastern climate."

The blue of ecclesiastical colouring is always dark and intense.

Purple  is the term of most doubtful signification, being frequently applied to crimson, scarlet, and blue. The famous "Tyrian purple" was manufactured from the juice of shell-fish,—principally the Murex trunculus  of Linnæus and Lamarck,—and was compared by Pliny to "the rich, fresh, and bright colour of deep-red purple roses." The same writer observes, that "violet, purple, and scarlet, were nowhere dyed so well as at Tyre, whose shores abounded with the best kinds of purples." It seems, to my judgment, reasonable to suppose that the "purple" employed in the curtains of the Tabernacle, &c. was "violet," as that colour would best unite with "scarlet" and "blue," which are separately enumerated. It is interesting also to read that Pliny describes "red" as distinguished from "purple," and calls it "a gay, lively bright, approaching the colour of fire."

But this is a long digression; to resume:—In the Divine commands relative to the making of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, this verse occurs (Exod. xxviii. 5), "And they shall take gold, and blue, and scarlet, and purple, and fine linen"—that is, white. The symbolical meaning which may be gathered from these words is very striking and beautiful. There are three colours mentioned (white is not a colour ); of these, two are primary—that is, original, not formed by any combination—red and blue. Purple (or violet) is made by a combination, proceeding from  these two; and so in these foundation-colours of the Tabernacle, I would reverently see a symbolical representation of the Three Most Holy Persons of the Godhead. To complete the symbol, we have also white, signifying perfect righteousness, the emblem and colour of light; and gold, typifying glory. Thus, in the first and highest sense, are colours symbolical.

Emphasis by Colour.

To apply the subject to the art of illumination. It has been already remarked that the emphasis of a text is expressed in two ways—by prefixing capital letters to the principal words, and also by distinction of colour. On the due attention to a few simple rules respecting the value of certain colours, and their just application, much of the beauty of an illuminated work depends.


Gold  is of the highest value. It should be employed only  for the letters forming the names of The Holy Trinity, or Their attributes. For the sake of distinctness, however, the gold must be either edged with blue or red, or the whole word may be placed on a tablet of colour. Sprays of fleurs-de-lys, &c. in red, twining between, but not over  the letters, will also assist in making them distinct and marked.

In words referring to Heaven or Angels, gold stars or dots sprinkled over the letters are appropriate.

Capitals should be edged entirely, or grounded, with gold. The small letters are sometimes edged only on one side, which gives them a raised appearance: it should be the side nearest the right hand.

Trefoils, and similar leaves, are generally painted in gold.


Blue  (intense, sapphire) is of first value in colours, when used alone, but red is of equal value if used in apposition.[13] It is pre-eminently a colour of remembrance. The children of Israel were commanded to wear on their garments fringes, and on the fringes "a riband of blue," that when they looked upon it they might "remember all the commandments of the Lord , and do them,"[14] and "be holy" unto their God. This colour being worn by express command, "signified that the wearer was God's own,"—typifying, therefore, adoption, sonship; further, being the colour of the sky, it "reminded Israel of his home in Heaven: so likewise in the curtains of the Tabernacle, the blue signified that hope of Heaven which belongs to the true tabernacles of the living God, that is, to holy hearts wherein God dwelleth."[15]

Blue  may be employed to represent Heaven and holy Angels; heavenly hope; heavenly rest; holiness; consecration; truth; remembrance; adoption; peace; fidelity; constancy.


Red  (scarlet, crimson, or ruby, the colour of fire) was anciently employed to typify the Holy Spirit, or the Creative Power. It is thus the symbol of Divine Love : including help, protection, zeal, and similar holy attributes. As the colour of blood, it typifies REDEMPTION  and forgiveness.

Mrs. Jameson informs us, that anciently our Saviour  and the Blessed Virgin were represented in "the red tunic and blue mantle, as signifying heavenly love and heavenly truth. The same colours were given to St. John the Evangelist, with this difference, that he wore the blue tunic and the red mantle."

Purple or Violet.

Purple  was anciently employed in religious worship both by Jews and Gentiles. So early as in the Book of Judges (viii. 26), we read of it as forming the attire of kings; and many texts of Holy Scripture might be adduced shewing it to be almost exclusively devoted to royalty. We read, in the Cyclopædia  already quoted, that Pliny records a similar use of it among the Romans; and Homer speaks of purple as if it were almost peculiar to kings. Suetonius relates that Julius Cæsar prohibited its use by Roman subjects, except on certain days, and that Nero forbade it altogether, on pain of death.

Purple (violet, or amethyst) signifies, therefore, first, royalty. It was also the ancient symbol of love and truth, or passion and suffering; "hence it was the colour often worn by the martyrs: in the Spanish schools, the colour of our Saviour's  mantle is generally a rich deep violet". In some instances, our Saviour , after His resurrection, is habited in a violet instead of a blue mantle. This would, doubtless, refer to its royal, victorious signification. The Blessed Virgin is represented in "violet, after the crucifixion"—of course in token of deepest mourning. "Mary Magdalene, who, as patron saint, wears the red robe, as penitent wears violet and blue, the colours of sorrow and constancy."

We may now easily understand why purple has been accepted as the Church's mourning colour. Although so beautiful when represented in the clearness of stained glass, purple is but little used in large illuminations, excepting sometimes as a ground-colour; chiefly, perhaps, because so difficult to produce in a sufficiently bright, pure tint, as compared to the red and blue.


White  is essentially the emblem of light and saintly purity. Of the first, because the finest light is white; of the second, I need hardly quote the reason,— Rev. xix. 8. "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints."

Typical, also, of forgiveness: Isa. i. 18."Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." Ps. li. 7. "Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."

Eccles. ix. 8.

The symbol also of wisdom, innocence, faith, joy, integrity, humility: of glory, perfection, and regeneration; for white contains all colours. Solomon says, "Let your garments be always white."

Thus I have enumerated the colours more especially devoted to the Church.

Emerald Green.

Emerald Green  has been latterly introduced; and though, from its inferior richness when contrasted with other colours, it should be sparingly  employed in illuminations, it may occasionally assist in producing a very pleasing effect, especially in floriations and ornamental stops.

Beautiful emblematic meanings are attached to this colour,—namely, hope in immortality, eternity, victory. This last, because green is the colour of laurel and palm.


Grey , the colour of ashes, anciently signified mourning, humility, and innocence accused. This colour is sometimes employed in ground-work, not for letters.


Black  is, of course, employed only as being useful and distinct, without symbolism. It is adapted to all words of minor importance, and to intermediate stops; also, of course, for the stalks and veins of leaves, and stems of branches, &c.

It may not be considered irrelevant to the subject, if I subjoin an explanation of the colours employed in the services of the Church, taken from Purchas's Directorium Anglicanum :—

White.—From the evening of Christmas Eve to the Octave of Epiphany, inclusive, except Feasts of St. Stephen and the Holy Innocents. From the evening of Easter Eve to the Vigil of Pentecost; on Trinity Sunday, Purification, Conversion of St. Paul, the Annunciation, St. John Baptist, St. Michael, St. Luke, and All Saints.

Red.—Vigil of Pentecost to the next Saturday; Holy Innocents (if on a Sunday), and all other Feasts.

Violet.—Ash Wednesday to Easter Eve; Advent to Christmas Eve; Ember Weeks in September; Rogation Days; Holy Innocents, unless on Sunday; on Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima Sundays.

Black.—On Good Friday, and funerals, and on public fasts.

Green.—On all other days.

Cloth-of-Gold  is said to supply all other colours. It seems possible that this is with reference to Psalm xlv. 9, 13.

[12]In The Poetry of Sacred and Legendary Art.

[13]For example, "As thy days, so shall thy strength be," the word days  might be red, while strength  might be in blue ; the colours would then be equal in value; but in such a text as "My times are in Thy Hand," times  being in red  and Hand  in blue, the latter colour would be of the higher value.

[14]See Numbers, xv. 38-41.

[15]Sermon on Church Colouring, by the Rev. R. J. Spranger, M. A. Published by Masters and Co., price 6 d.


Eccles. ix. 10.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.

To begin with the purely mechanical part of our work, let us enumerate the materials required for drawing the outlines:—


3 Pencils—F, HB, and BB. 2 d. each.[1]


A piece of Indian-rubber.


Red sable brushes; the sizes sold at 4 d., 6 d., and 8 d. each: also 2 small sizes of the best  Camel's hair, 2 d. each, necessary for Bessemer's gold paint.


Large sized London or Bristol board, 6 d. per sheet, and upwards. This is a glazed (hot-pressed) cardboard.

"Mounting-board" is rather cheaper, costing 6 d. and upwards for a large sheet, but, not having so fine a surface, will not so easily bear rubbing out. It takes colour well.

Pale-tinted cardboard, grey, brown, &c., is sold in large sheets, at about 8 d. per sheet.


Vellum-paper, a good imitation of vellum, is sold at 1 s. per sheet.

Tissue and Tracing-paper.

Some sheets of white tissue and transparent tracing-paper; the latter for preserving copies in outline.


2 Rulers (flat); one of wood, about two feet long, another of bone, 6 inches; 6 d. each (ivory, 2 s..).

A T-ruler is very useful; 1 s. and upwards.


A portfolio, 2 feet by 10 inches, to hold the scrolls, would be useful in preserving them from injury; cost, at the drawing-shops, 3 s. 6 d.


Alphabets (capitals).

The beginner should endeavour to obtain one or two sheets of alphabets (capitals) in black and white, of the full size required, say about two inches high.

Lower-case (small letters).

An alphabet of "lower-case," or small letters, is subjoined, which will be found to harmonise well with almost any capitals, and is in proportion to those of two or two and a half inches high.

Enlarging or reducing Capitals.

But although the beginner will do well to copy or trace letters of the exact size required, he cannot too soon commence the practice of enlarging or reducing the copy, otherwise many very beautiful initial letters will be lost to him. The great art in copying on a different scale is to observe carefully the proportions of the original: keep every branch of the letter equal  in thickness, if the original be so: or if copying, for example, a capital A, and one side of the arch be twice the width of the other, let the copy preserve the same proportion. In the letter B, observe if the two bows be of equal size; the lower is generally the larger of the two. In an equal-sided letter, like M or O, observe what ornamental parts are opposite to each other.

Enlarging or reducing Small Letters.

In drawing (or copying) small letters, be careful to make the stems of equal  width or thickness, and those which pass above or below the line of equal and proportionate height or length. The tops of t's should always be lower than those of the other long letters, as in writing, and the dots of the i's in a line with the tops of the t's.

Books of Alphabets, &c.

There is a small book of mediæval alphabets, published by Masters, price 2 s., suited to beginners. The Book of Ornamental Alphabets, Ancient and Mediæval, collected and engraved by F. Delamotte  (published by E. & F. N. Spon, 16 Bucklersbury, London), is valuable to those who can enlarge while copying; it contains upwards of forty alphabets, beginning with those of the 8th century, also several initial letters, and a page of monograms, crosses, &c.—most of the alphabets are one inch in height—price 4 s. The best and most recent collection of letters that I have met with is The Handbook of Alphabets, Initials, and Monograms, engraved by William Gibbs, published by Houlston & Wright, 65 Paternoster Row, London, price 5 s.

Value and use of Capitals.

In arranging for the outline of a text, first select the necessary capitals. The initial (or first letter) must be the handsomest of all, as being the introduction and Dedication.dedication of the work to The Blessed Trinity. Capitals are generally employed throughout the Sacred Names; the first letter may be the largest, the following of the same height as the small letters.


They are also prefixed to such words as we wish especially to emphasize, as in the following examples:—

Be clothed with Humility.    My times are in Thy Hand.    Watch and Pray.

The emphasis of colour  will be given in the proper place.

Distinction of Style, Date, and Country.

It is advisable, if possible, to select the capitals from the same alphabet; but if all that you require for the text do not suit your taste, there is no absolute objection to the introduction of others, subject to certain conditions. On no account mix the letters of different countries; the Italian, for instance, with the Saxon; they would be utterly incongruous. Also, as a writer amusingly observes, "Avoid letting your work appear as though it had been begun in the tenth century, and only completed in the sixteenth, or, as I have once or twice seen, vice versâ."[2]

Legibility essential.

But although rules of style, date, and country, are important, they should never, in my opinion, be carried out so rigidly as to make our work either fantastic or illegible—two very serious blemishes. Indeed, if we sacrifice to strict chronological order all possibility of reading the letters without an interpreter, our labour, as far as others are concerned, is worse than useless, tending to bring the whole art into disrepute.

Important Distinction.

Capitals with simple curves should not be mixed with those in which the curves become pointed, the styles being distinct.

Best Styles.

The styles which prevailed from the 11th to the 14th century are considered the best, the later ones in particular. After that date the art of illuminating gradually decayed.

First Sketch on Tissue-paper.

In proceeding to draw the outline of a text, it is a most useful practice to sketch it out roughly on tissue-paper, in order to ascertain what space it will occupy. This plan will prevent much disappointment (and rubbing out, which should be carefully avoided), as, even after long practice, we are often mistaken in the supposed length of a printed sentence: nothing can look worse than one-half of the letters spread widely over the scroll, and the rest crowded together, to make up for the room wasted at the beginning.

Rules for Drawing the Outline.

Having decided on the size of the initial [3] and capital letters, allow a sufficient space above and below them, and cut out the strip of cardboard by a ruled line, measured accurately at each end, so that the width throughout shall be equal.[4] The spaces left above and below the capitals  may be equal (if for one line only), but rather less below than otherwise; 1½ to 2 inches [5] is a fair proportion. In ruling for two lines of letters, be careful to leave sufficient room between them, or the y's and g's of the upper line may interfere with the d's and h's of the lower, as also with the capitals.

Now, with the HB, rule two lines for the small letters, as lightly  as possible, consistently with clearness, as these are afterwards to be rubbed out. There is no occasion to draw an upper line for the capitals, as they should be traced in: unless the hand be a very practised one, this method is necessary, to avoid much disfigurement of the cardboard from corrections.

To trace Capitals.

To trace the capitals: cut out a piece of tracing-paper, an inch or two larger every way than the letter to be copied; rule a line on which to rest the letter, as it will be wanted afterwards; place this over the pattern (with the ruled line close beneath it), and trace every line steadily with the HB. This done, remove the tracing-paper, turn it over (right side downwards), and blacken all the lines with the BB pencil. Now place the letter, right side upwards, on the space you intend it to occupy on the cardboard, letting the ruled line correspond exactly with the lower line ruled on the scroll: this will ensure the capital being quite upright in its proper position. Hold the tracing-paper down firmly with the left hand, never shifting it until the whole letter be completed, and with the F pencil trace (i.e. go over) every line of the copy, pressing firmly, but not so hard as to cut through the thin paper. It may then be withdrawn, and, if correctly done, the letter will be found legibly traced on the cardboard. It is right to finish the outline firmly (but not too dark) with the HB, as clearness is of great importance when you are colouring.

Some initial letters, such as O, T, &c. admit of the insertion of a small photograph of a sacred subject, several of which can now be procured, even at one penny each. Among others may be selected the "Ecce Homo," "The Saviour bearing the Cross," "Blessing little Children," &c.

Small Letters.

So little practice is required to draw the small letters correctly, that it is scarcely worth while to attempt tracing them; indeed the difficulty of keeping a large piece of tissue-paper steady interferes greatly with the chances of success. In drawing these letters (with the HB), be careful to make all the stems of equal thickness, and let them be in due proportion, of height and width, to the accompanying capitals. Distances between Letters and Words.The letters should be placed as near to each other as is consistent with clearness, and about half an inch may be left between each word: let these distances be kept uniform throughout the work. Study to draw the letters perfectly straight and upright, to ensure which is the use of the ivory ruler, thus:—

Test of Correct Outline.

Having sketched in all the small letters as well as possible, turn the strip of cardboard with its end  towards you, and I fear you will be shocked to see how many of the letters are out of the perpendicular. If, however, they have not been too heavily drawn, they may now be readily corrected by the little ruler, keeping the scroll still in the same position. The advantage of this method is, that a line which, to an unpractised eye, will appear quite perpendicular, when turned into a horizontal position instantly betrays its deviations. It may be objected that the use of a ruler encourages idle and careless habits, but this is only the case when it is employed to draw by, and not, as it should be, only for correction.

Stops and Ornaments.

The ornamental stop—or perhaps a Greek cross—and any other intended additions, should be traced now. When the hand and eye are a little practised, sprays of trefoil and similar decorations will look more natural and easy, if drawn freshly upon the scroll. Triplets of leaves and berries have a graceful and suitable effect, and these, in illuminations, may be drawn conventionally, rather than naturally. A clever writer [6] says, "Rigidly avoid contrasting natural with conventional foliage. Adopt which you like, for by either beautiful effects may be produced; but mix them, and the charm of both is gone. Natural foliage may be successfully combined with any other varieties of conventional ornament, excepting those based upon natural foliage."

The Vine Passion-flower, Ivy, or any trefoils, have a beautiful effect, if gracefully twined about, or drooping from the initial letter.

Photographs in Initial Letters, &c.

The introduction of small photographs (of sacred subjects) either into the initial letter, or placed before it, with a simple border in gold, edged with blue, has often a beautiful significance and effect. Care should, however, be taken in the selection, that the picture and the sacred words subjoined have a real connexion with each other. For example, the Magdalene at the foot of the cross is not suitable in illustration of the text, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom." A square picture may have the lines of the border prolonged so as to cross at the corners and finish about half an inch from the principal line. An arch may be surmounted with a cross.

[1]N.B. The prices of materials vary so much, that only a general idea can be given of them, as some guide to beginners.

[2]What Illuminating should be, and How it may be Practised, by M. Digby Wyatt, B.A. &c., Illustrated by W. R. Tymms. Price 1 s. 6 d.

[3]The initial letter is often much  larger than the other capitals.

[4]Various forms of scroll will be alluded to in speaking of "Borders," omitted here for the sake of clearness.

[5]These and similar measurements are given, as being in proportion to the small alphabet and capitals subjoined.

[6]M. Digby Wyatt, B.A.


St. John, xv. 5.
I am the Vine, ye are the branches.

It is hardly necessary to observe that the only ornamentation suitable to a text from Holy Scripture is that which conveys to the mind some religious thought; and such thoughts are naturally suggested by forms that figuratively represent some holy attribute or virtue.


The first and most obvious of Christian emblems is the Cross, that blessed form which must and should always remind us of the inestimable price of our redemption. As such a remembrance it has been received from the earliest ages of Christianity;[16] and most dear may it always prove to those who love their Saviour 's Name!

The almost infinitely varying forms of this sacred symbol are divided into two classes, the Latin and the Greek; which distinction originated in the separation of the Eastern and Western Churches. The Latin forms most nearly resemble the true cross, i.e. having the lower limb elongated—this, of course, is received as the emblem of the Atonement: the Greek, having each of the four limbs equal in length, is considered symbolical of the Christian religion, extending its blessed influence through all the four quarters of the world. On this distinction of the two forms, it has been well observed that "the Latins, who were more material in sentiment than the Greeks, preferred the actual  form; the Greeks, more spiritual than the Latins, idealised the reality."

The Western Church has generally retained the Latin form, while the Greek is more peculiar to the Eastern branch. In all the earlier examples we read that this distinction seems to have been very scrupulously observed.[17]

Of Latin crosses, the principal are these:—

The plain form (called in heraldry the Passion Cross) resembling, as is generally believed, that on which our Blessed Lord died for us. Sometimes, when intended especially to symbolise sorrow and suffering, the three upper arms are sharp-pointed. The simple cross, raised on three steps, is called the Cross Calvary, the steps being said to typify the three Christian graces, Faith, Hope, and Charity.

The Tau Cross, resembling in shape the Greek letter Τ (tau); it is also called the Egyptian Cross, and, in heraldry, the Cross Potent, which is the old English word for crutch.

The Cross Crosslet, of this form, on our title-page, is taken from the seal of the Latin Convent of St. Salvador, at Jerusalem, but the riband and motto are adopted for the present occasion.

St. Philip is sometimes represented with this cross,—on which, indeed, he is believed to have suffered martyrdom,—and St. Anthony so generally, that it is often called after his name.

Some old writers on symbolism saw in the Tau Cross the ideal precursor of the real cross—anticipatory, typical—the cross of the Old Testament. It is represented also in religious art as that on which the brazen serpent was hung.

St. Andrew's Cross is an emblem of humility as well as of suffering, the Apostle being said to have declared himself unworthy, even in death, to approach the image of his Master 's sufferings, and therefore to have entreated that the instrument of his martyrdom might be of a different form. The heraldic term for this cross is saltire.

The Patriarchal Cross, formerly borne by Patriarchs and Archbishops; retained now in the Church of Rome, and worn on the robes of Cardinals. This cross is very common in Spain.

The Greek crosses are so infinite in variety, that I can only attempt to portray a very small number of them, selecting some of the most admired.

The most familiar to English eyes is the Cross of St. George, first impaled by Charles I.; to this was afterwards added (on the national flag) the white St. Andrew's, on the union with Scotland; and later still (1801) on the union with Ireland, St. Patrick's "red saltire." And thus the crosses of the "patron saints" peculiar to each kingdom became united in our national flag.

One of the best known among Greek crosses is the Maltese, borne by the Knights of Malta. It is often confounded with the following—

Cross Pattée: if the outer lines are curved inwardly, it is called a "Pattée concave;" if outwardly (a pretty form), "Pattée convex." This cross is found prefixed to old writings instead of the words "In Christi Nomine."

Cross Fleury.

Cross Boutonnée (like buds), or Trefflée (trefoil).

Crosslet Pattée. The term crosslet means a little cross, and also a cross crosslet, i.e. a cross with a short bar transversing each of the arms: these are even sometimes again crossed.

Cross Pommellée (from pomme, an apple).

Some examples of both the Latin and the Greek cross are elaborately and beautifully ornamented. It is a remark quoted on good authority, in the Magazine already referred to, that during the Middle Ages, in the Western Church a plain cross was considered as a cross of shame, and an ornamental one as a cross of glory.

The simple Latin cross and St. Andrew's are most suitable for introduction into capital letters. The Greek is more generally placed at the conclusion of a text, sometimes also as an intermediate stop, or rather as a renewed dedication.[18] Two crosses are, in general, quite sufficient for the same text; one as a part of the dedication, the other as a conclusion.

The Dove.

The Dove is the well-known symbol of the Holy Spirit. When thus employed, the head should be encircled with a Divine glory. With the olive-branch, it is the emblem of peace. The dove has also been employed to represent simplicity and purity of heart, and in ancient times was thought an emblem of the soul.

The Dove resting on the cross is a modern but beautiful combination of emblems, probably originating in the following lines:—

"Shouldst thou not need some mighty charm
To win thee to thy Saviour's side,
Though He hath deigned with thee to bide?
The Spirit must stir the darkling deep,
The dove must settle on the cross,
Else we should all sin on or sleep
With Christ in sight, turning our gain to loss."
Christian Year  (4th Sunday after Easter.)


Triangle, Trefoils, &c.

The Triangle  (equilateral), trefoil, three circles, or triple triangle, are the emblems of the Holy Trinity.

Of the trefoil, which is in fact the shamrock, it is said that St. Patrick, when endeavouring to explain the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in Unity to the heathen in Ireland, suddenly cast his eye on the green leaves at his feet, and plucking one of them, conveyed an idea of his meaning in this simple form.


The Plain Circle , without beginning and without end, was the early symbol of eternity; united with the cross, it typifies eternal life: enclosing a triangle, Three in One.


The serpent, with its tail in its mouth, has been justly considered an emblem of eternal punishment. The serpent, or dragon, being always the emblem of all wickedness, is to me quite unaccountably a favourite subject for illumination. It has, however, an obvious meaning, represented as flying from  the sacred words.

The Lamb.

The Lamb  is the obvious (and very ancient) type of our Blessed Saviour. It is represented with a nimbus, or glory, containing four rays, one of which is concealed by the head. If each ray contains a cross, it is called a cruciferous nimbus. The rays are the especial mark of a Divine  glory, the circlets, or glories, surrounding heads of saints and martyrs never  including them.

The Lamb bearing a banner, the token of victory, is an emblem of the resurrection.


The Pelican  wounding her own breast to feed her young ones was an ancient symbol of the Great Sacrifice. One or both of these last-named emblems are frequently met with in ancient crosses or crucifixes, the lamb at the foot, and the pelican at the top of the cross.

The Good Shepherd , carrying a sheep, is also an ancient emblem.


The Sword  is an emblem varying in signification according to the sharpness of its point. That with an acute  point is the sword of justice; with the point obtuse, the sword of religion; with no point, the sword of mercy. The flaming sword typifies Divine vengeance.


The Fish  is one of the very earliest symbols of our Divine Lord. The five letters of the Greek word for a fish (ΙΧΘΥΣ) make the initials (in Greek) of the following sentence—Jesus Christ, God's Son , the Saviour  (Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς Θεοῦ Υἱὸς Σωτήρ). "In this sense," Mrs. Jameson informs us, "we find the fish as a general symbol of the Christian faith upon the sarcophagi of early Christians; on the tombs of the martyrs in the catacombs; on rings, coins, lamps, &c.; and as an ornament in early Christian architecture." It was also thought an appropriate emblem of the Christian in the waters of baptism, and in allusion to the promise, "Ye shall become fishers of men."

Flaming Heart.

The Flaming Heart  expresses fervent piety and love.


The Anchor  is an ancient Christian emblem of firmness, hope, and patience. It is found in the catacombs and ancient Christian gems.


The Lamp , lantern, or taper, is the old emblem of piety, celestial light, or wisdom. "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth." (Isa. lxii. 1.) "Let your light so shine before men." (St. Matt. v. 16.)


The Lily  is the emblem of the incarnation, and of purity, always placed in the hand of the angel Gabriel, and often in the hand of the infant Saviour  and the Blessed Virgin; sometimes in that of St. Joseph. Lilies of the Valley  seem to be peculiarly fitted to represent purity and meekness combined. Violets  are a modern emblem of modesty.


The Fleur-de-Lys  is considered the conventional form of the lily, and was in the Middle Ages adopted as the emblem of the Blessed Virgin. Some see in the Mother of our Lord a type of the Church on earth —see St. Matt. xii. 49, 50—which gives her emblem a much enlarged significance.


The Passion-flower  presents in itself a crowd of emblems, suggestive of the most solemn thoughts, on which we can hardly dwell with sufficient reverence. The Passiflora cærulea  (common blue Passion-flower) is thus described:—It was discovered in the Brazils, and its wonders were soon proclaimed to Christendom as representing the Passion of our Lord, whence its present appellation. Its leaves are said exactly to resemble the spear that pierced our Saviour's side, while the five points remind us of the five wounds which He endured; the tendrils, the cords that bound, or the whips that scourged, Him; the ten petals, the Apostles, Judas having betrayed, and Peter denied, Him; the pillar in the centre was the cross or tree; the stamens, the hammers; the styles, the nails; the inner circle about the central pillar, the crown of thorns; the radiance, the glory; the white tint, the emblem of purity; and the blue, the type of heaven. On one of the species, the Passiflora alata, red spots are seen on the cross or tree. The flower keeps open three days, and then disappears, denoting the resurrection. As a whole, the passion-flower is an emblem of faith.


The Pomegranate , bursting open, and the seeds visible, was considered (in early art) as an emblem of the future—of hope in immortality.


The Phœnix  is an ancient symbol of immortality.


The Palm  is the well-known symbol of victory after suffering, and of heavenly bliss. Mrs. Jameson remarks that it was the ancient classical symbol of victory and triumph, and was early assumed by the Christians as the universal symbol of martyrdom.

Olive Branch.

The Olive Branch  and the palm were very early emblems of immortality.


The Crown  is a Scriptural emblem of the Church. "Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God". (Isa. lxii. 3. See also Zech. ix. 16.) This symbol, placed above the initial letter of a Holy Name, gives it a beautiful and marked significance.[19] It may be appropriately blended with the cross; also with the palm and the lily.

The emblems of the four Evangelists are these:—St. Matthew, a winged man (not  an angel); St. Mark, a winged lion; St. Luke, a winged ox, or calf; St. John, an eagle. These symbols are taken from the vision of Ezekiel, and from that of St. John in the Revelation.[20]

[16]"It was not till the sixth century that the cross became a crucifix, no longer an emblem, but an image."—Sacred and Legendary Art.

[17]See Penny Post, vol. vii. 1857.

[18]It is irreverent to regard or to employ this sacred symbol as a stop. The ancient illuminators generally placed it at the commencement, and not at the close of their subject.

[19]A crown having the points surmounted by stars, is called in heraldry the "crown celestial."

[20]An interesting Lecture on Symbolism, by Charles Brown , Esq. is published by Masters and Co. Price 2 s.