Lewis, Bonnie, et. al. "The Holy Trinity." Faithology.com. Faithology, 4 March 2014. Web. 5 October 2015.
Lewis, B., et. al. (2014, Mar 4). The Holy Trinity. Faithology.
Lewis, Bonnie, et. al. "The Holy Trinity" Faithology, LLC. Last modified March 4, 2014.
Faithology, LLC, 2012. (Accessed Oct 5, 2015).. The Holy Trinity.
- Last Updated: March 4, 2014
- Originally Published: July 24, 2012
Symbols of the Trinity are plentiful and found throughout church history. They are designed to represent the Christian doctrine that God manifests himself in three distinct ways—as God the Father, God the Son (Jesus ), and the Holy Spirit. References to the three personages are found throughout the New Testament, but it was not until the Nicene Creed was composed in 325 CE that the doctrine of the "Holy Trinity" was established. Shortly afterward, symbols representing the Holy Trinity began to emerge.
One of the earliest symbols of the Trinity is the equilateral triangle—an upward-pointing triangle that has sides of equal length and angles of equal size. The equality of the three parts of the triangle represents both the unity and the distinctness of the three persons of the Trinity.
Another representation of the Trinity consists of three circles interwoven together. Each circle is equal in size, indicating that all persons of the Trinity are equal in importance. The circles themselves attest to the eternal nature of the Trinity, which has no beginning and no end. Their interwoven pattern shows unity between the three persons of the Trinity.
Triangle and Circle Interwoven
A circle is sometimes added to or interwoven with an equilateral triangle to emphasize the eternal nature of the Holy Trinity.
This star is formed by two equilateral triangles in which one triangle points directly upward and the other triangle points directly down. Together, these create a six-pointed star that symbolizes the act of creation: God created the heavens and the Earth, and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit concur with God the Father. This six-pointed star is said by historians to be modeled after the Shield of David in the Old Testament.Occasionally, a circle is added, interwoven with the triangles to emphasize the unending nature and existence of the Holy Trinity.
This star is formed by overlapping two equilateral triangles of the same size, the two triangles pointing in opposite directions, one facing up and the other down. Together, these triangles create a six-pointed star that symbolizes the act of creation: God created the heavens and the Earth, and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit concur with God the Father. This six-pointed star is said by historians to be modeled after the Shield of David in the Old Testament.2 Occasionally, a circle is added, interwoven with the triangles to emphasize the unending nature and existence of the Holy Trinity.
The triquetra is one of the best-known symbols of the Trinity and is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful as well. In place of circles, three equal arcs are intertwined and joined together, giving the appearance of one large arc. The intersections of the arcs may be sharp or rounded. The three equal arcs express the equality of the three persons of the Trinity, the union expresses the union of the Trinity, and the continuous arc expresses the unending nature of the Trinity. In addition, the appearance of one large arc created by interweaving arcs expresses the indivisibility of the Trinity. Occasionally, a circle or triangle interwoven with the arcs is added to create a more decorative figure.
Shield of the Trinity
The Shield of the Trinity has many variations. The traditional version is three circles connected by three bars of equal length, forming the sides of a downward-pointing triangle. The circle on the top-left contains the word "Father," the top-right circle contains the word "Son," and the bottom circle contains the words "Holy Spirit." In the center of the triangle is another circle circumscribing the word "God," and this center circle is connected to the other three circles bars of equal length. The center bars are inscribed with the word "is," while the outside bars are inscribed with the phrase "is not."
In the traditional Shield, all words are written in Latin. They form the following phrases:
- Father is not Son.
- Father is not Holy Spirit.
- Son is not Holy Spirit.
- Son is not Father.
- Holy Spirit is not Father.
- Holy Spirit is not Son.
- Father is God.
- Son is God.
- Holy Spirit is God.
- God is Father.
- God is Son.
- God is Holy Spirit.
These statements reflect the doctrine of the Trinity as explained in the Nicene. The staging of these words is purposeful in that they can be read from any direction and from any starting point, emphasizing the unending and undivided nature of the Holy Trinity. Variations include an upward-pointing triangle with the Father at the top, curved bars instead of straight bars, triangles instead of circles or a star in the center in place of circle or triangle.
Traditionally, theis used to represent the Virgin . Since lilies have three sprouted tips, it is also associated with the Trinity.
The shamrock, used as a symbol of the Trinity, is based on a legend of the missionary St. Patrick. A group of pagans tested him, asking him to give proof of the Trinity. St. Patrick looked around. Finding a clover, he plucked it and asked the pagans if what he was holding was one leaf or three leaves. He then expanded his questioning: If it was, indeed, one leaf then why has it three lobes of equal sides? If it were three leaves, then why did it have one stem? No one could explain this mystery. St. Patrick then challenged them: If they could not explain something as simple as a shamrock, then how could they understand something as complex as the Trinity?