Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Friday 17 September |
home iconTravel
line break icon

This is how you can identify the statue of an apostle or saint

FOUR,EVANGELISTS

Shutterstock

Isabelle Cousturie - France - published on 10/01/18

The attributes used in Christian iconography allow us to figure out their identity and why they are venerated.

We find images of apostles and saints in sculptures or stained-glass windows embedded in the architecture of churches, in paintings and holy cards, and sometimes even in secular architecture. All these statues and representations are the sign of a particular veneration linked to an era, an event, or the faithful’s desire to pay homage to their saints and martyrs, and to be able to count on their intercession before God.

To facilitate their identification, these representations are usually accompanied by attributes — such as an object, an animal, a plant — that characterize them: the palm and the crown for martyrs, the miter and the staff for a bishop, the book of the Gospels for the doctors of the Church, a model of the church for saints who founded religious communities, etc … This descriptive symbolism creates authentic bonds between the faithful and the works of art.

The number of statues and representations exploded at the end of the Middle Ages. To avoid running the risk of confusing them, especially in if the images’ deterioration over time should make them hard to recognize, the artists sometimes added more than one attribute. This can make identification more complicated, as different artists could pick different attributes representing different aspects of the saint’s life; indeed, the list of such attributes can be quite long. However, it is a joy when we can recognize a saint at first glance. Here, Aleteia offers you a short summary of attributes that can help you recognize the apostles. More information about the iconography of these and other saints can be found here, among other places.

Tags:
ArtSaints

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Top 10
1
CELEBRITIES
Cerith Gardiner
Our favorite stories of celebrities who inspire us in daily life
2
communion
Philip Kosloski
How receiving Holy Communion can drive away demons
3
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
4
Berthe and Marcel
Lauriane Vofo Kana
This couple has the longest marriage in France
5
As irmãs biológicas que se tornaram freiras no instituto Iesu Communio
Francisco Veneto
The 5 biological sisters who joined the religious life in just tw...
6
CROSS
Philip Kosloski
Why is the feast of the Holy Cross celebrated on September 14?
7
SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been known to f...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.