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Dove Symbol – History And Meaning

Although the dove symbol has been used in paganism, it is recognized better as a Christian sign. 

The image of a dove with an olive branch in its beak comes from the book of Genesis, in the story of Noah.

Dove Symbol – History And Meaning

dove symbol

At the end of the deluge, Noah sends a dove to see if the waters have receded. The bird comes back with an olive branch, signifying that the land is now dry.

The dove is seen as a predestined symbol by which John the Baptist would recognize the Messiah. When Jesus was baptized, he went up straight out of the water and the heavens were opened unto him, then the Spirit of God descended like a dove lighting upon him.

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

Dove Symbol History

dove symbol

The dove has been employed as a symbol of peace and innocence for thousands of years in many different cultures.

In ancient Mesopotamia, doves were associated with the goddess of love, sexuality, and war called Inanna-Ishtar. Dove figurines made of lead were found in her temple at Aššur, said to date back to the 13th century BC.

In the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean, doves represented the Canaanite mother goddess Asherah, the Phoenician goddess Tanit, and the Roman goddesses Venus and Fortuna.

In ancient Greek mythology, the dove was not only a symbol of love but the renewal of life as well. 

In ancient Japan, the end of war was depicted in a dove carrying a sword. 

The ancient Jews used dove images as a religious sacrifice done within the tabernacle and temples. 

For early Christians, baptism was accompanied by a dove which symbolized God’s forgiveness amd deliverance. This originated from the story of Noah after the flood.

The Dove Symbol 

dove symbol

In Christian Iconography, the dove image is a representation of the Holy Spirit. The Gospels compare the Holy Spirit to a dove while Jesus was being baptized at the river of Jordan. It is also representative of the Almighty Father’s forgiveness and deliverance.

The symbol of dove with an olive branch has been used as a symbol of peace since the early times of Christianity, originating from Noah’s dove after the great deluge.

This particular usage of the dove symbol as a representation of peace was confirmed by Augustine of Hippo in his 5th-century writing, On Christian Doctrine, where it is stated that “perpetual peace is indicated by the olive branch which the dove brought with it when it returned to the ark.”

Religion aside, doves are considered an omen of good luck, particularly in love as these birds are known to mate for life. Dove also symbolizes devotion, beauty, faith, gentleness, and purity. 

The Dove Symbol Meaning

In the English language, dove is one of the two species that make up the Columbidae bird family, the other one being pigeon. Dove is the smaller of the two, although this distinction is not consistent, especially in most other languages. 

The feathers of a dove are usually white, the color that is often associated with peace, innocence, and purity. 

Doves are sometimes used as messengers. In symbolism, doves are employed as a representation of peace, love, and innocence. 

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