What Are the Four Symbols of Baptism?

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The four symbols of baptism are water, candles, a white garment and oil. Each symbol is part of the baptism ceremony and has a different spiritual meaning.

Water symbolizes life, death and cleansing. Water is either poured over the baptized person’s head or the individual is immersed in it. Each baptized person is presented with a candle that is lit from the Paschal candle; this symbolic act represents the coming of Christ into the person’s life. The Paschal, or Easter, candle stands for Christ’s presence and remains lit throughout the ceremony. The person being baptized then dons a white garment, symbolic of putting on Christ and becoming a new person. Finally, the baptized person is anointed with a special oil called sacred chrism, which represents healing, power and authority from God. Sometimes, a person is also anointed with the oil of catechumens, a sign of wisdom, strength and healing.