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What does the anchor cross symbolize?

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Quick Answer

The anchor cross symbolizes the Christians' hope for salvation through Jesus Christ. The anchor is mentioned in the Epistle to the Hebrews in the New Testament, and is one of the earliest Christian symbols.

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Full Answer

In the early Christian church during times of persecution, the anchor was one of the substitutes for the symbol of the cross. The early Christians were reluctant to publicly display the core symbol of their faith in pagan surroundings. In addition, some church regulations declared that what was adored should not become a mere decoration.

The anchor is often found in burial places of the early Roman Christians. Other substitute symbols in use were the trident and a decussate cross, which looks like the Greek letter chi. The wide-spread symbol for the Crucifixion in those days was a lamb at the foot of the anchor: the lamb representing Christ, and the anchor the cross.

In Hebrews 6:19 the hope for eternal life through the death of Jesus Christ is called "a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul". Clement of Alexandria was one of the early church leaders who were against the use of symbols. Nevertheless, he approved of the anchor cross. The anchor cross was the sign for the martyrdom of St. Clement, who on the order of the Emperor Trajan, was tied to an anchor and drowned in the sea.

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