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Anchor Symbol – History And Meaning

Anchors are associated with seas and oceans. 

In the jewelry world, no other nautical symbol is ever more popular than the anchor. It’s nice to look at and never goes out of style.

However, the anchor is more than just a pendant. As a symbol, it has historical meanings that go way back to Biblical times, becoming an important Christian symbol during the period of Roman persecution.

Anchor Symbol – History And Meaning

If you want to learn more about the Anchor symbol, read on to find out the meaning, history, and significance of this Christian symbol.

Anchor Symbol History

anchor symbol

In ancient times, anchors were used to drown bad people. However, the anchor symbol started to gain popularity among sailors joining the navy, becoming a mark of victory over international navy fleets.

Among early Christians, the anchor was one of the most important symbols denoting their faith.

Many tombstones and epitaphs of catacombs during the 2nd and 3rd centuries were adorned with an anchor symbol to indicate that the buried had died “in Christ.” The symbol was employed as a testimony of the Christian belief in the promise of resurrection from the dead.

St. Clement of Rome was the martyr associated with the anchor symbol. He was tied to an anchor and drowned in the sea. Thus, the anchor became a symbol of security and hope for the oppressed. 

During the period of the Roman persecution, Christians used the anchor as a way to express Christianity by tattooing the symbol or wearing jewelry with anchor motifs. The anchor was chosen as it holds a ship in place, denoting strength and security.

In ancient times, the Anchor was also regarded a symbol of safety and early Christians adopted it as a symbol of hope. 

In the New Testament, the epistle to the Hebrews links the idea of hope with the anchor symbol. As spoken by Saint Paul, Saint Peter, and various other early fathers of the Church: Christ was the Anchor, the unfailing hope of all believers. 

The Anchor Symbol

The anchor symbolizes moving forward from a place or a certain period in life by embarking on a new journey the way a ship sets sail when its anchor is lifted from the water.

This symbol represents brave decisions and new adventures or new voyages – things we hope for and look forward to.

As a Christian symbol, the anchor does not only represent hope but strength as well because an anchor holds a ship in place as it braves the storm.

And since it also resembles the cross, the anchor was used to mark houses as safe for early Christians looking for a place of refuge, becoming a Christian symbol of safety and security.

The anchor symbol is indicative of how Christians should not sway when persecuted. It has come to symbolize salvation and steadfastness or being firmly anchored in our beliefs, in the same manner that Christians were while under Roman persecution.

Anchor Symbol Meaning

According to Oxford Languages, an anchor is “a heavy object attached to a rope or chain and used to moor a vessel to the sea bottom, typically one having a metal shank with a ring at one end for the rope and a pair of curved and/or barbed flukes at the other.”

Basically, anchors are devices that hold water vessels in place to prevent them from drifting away. 

Because anchors look somewhat like a cross on a crescent, early Christians used them as a symbol of their Christianity under Roman persecution. Hence, the anchor became a symbol of salvation.

Today the anchor remains a symbol of hope, strength, and steadfastness. It also represents the church and the ancient Christian faith.

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