The dove was an early symbol of purity, as in Canticle of Canticles, 5 and 6; of peace, as in the story of the Deluge; of simplicity and innocence, as in Matthew 10. In early Christian art it typified the Holy Ghost; and after, as the soul, it is sometimes seen flying from the mouth of the dead.

As a symbol of the Holy Spirit it is specially connected with Baptism (Matthew 3). In pictures of the Annunciation it signifies the Incarnation of Our Saviour by the power of the Holy Ghost. It also symbolizes marytrdom and the Church. The dove with an olive branch was used on a sarcophagus to signify peace and hope of Resurrection; in flight, it represents the Ascension of Christ or the entrance of saints into glory.

Since early medieval times the Holy Eucharist was reserved for the sick in a dove-shaped vessel suspended to the baldichinum over the altar; later the dove was enclosed in a tower upon the altar. A vessel of like form was hung over the early baptisteries.

Associated in Art with

Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “dove“. Emblems of the Faith. CatholicSaints.Info. 2 January 2020. Web. 1 December 2021. <>