JESSE TREE SYMBOLS
The Sun: Just as the natural sun gives light and life to all upon
whom its rays fall so Christ, the Rising Dawn, dispels darkness
and brings eternal life and light.
The Tablets of the Law: The Law of Moses as symbolized in the
tablets which God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai was fulfilled in
Christ Who brings a law of love.
The Key of David: The key is the emblem of authority and power.
Christ is the Key of the House of David Who opens to us the full
meaning of the scriptural prophecies, and reopens for all mankind
the gate of Heaven.
Bethlehem: Seven hundred years before Christ's birth, Micheas
prophesied that the Savior would be born in the town of
Bethlehem. Bethlehem, which means "House of Bread," was
appropriately designated as the birthplace of Christ, the Bread
The Root of Jesse: The flower which springs up from the root of
Jesse is another figure of Christ. Isaiah prophesled that the
Savior would be born from the root of Jesse, that He would sit
upon the throme of David, and in Christ this prophecy is
The Star of David: The six-pointed star is the emblem of the
Royal House of David even to this day. Christ Who is born of the
House of David, can truly claim this emblem as His own.
Jacob's Ladder: In a vision, Jacob saw a ladder reaching from
heaven to earth, with angels descending and ascending. Christ,
the Incarnate God, is the Ladder reuniting earth to heaven,
mankind to God.
Jonas in the Whale. As Jonas remained in the whale three days, so
Christ remained three days in the earth after His death.
The Temple: The Temple was God's dwellinq place among the Jews of
the Old Testament. His new Presence is within us.
The Crown and Sceptre: The crown and sceptre signify Christ's
universal kingship. As we sing in the fifth O Antiphon, Christ is
not only the King of the Jewish nation, but the "Desired One of
all," the cornerstone which unites both Jew and Gentile.
The Sword of Judith: Judith of the Old Testament, who killed with
a sword the leader of the Assyrian army, saved the Israelite
nation. She prefigured Mary whose "Fiat" brought salvation to all
The Burning Bush: God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning
bush, which burned but was not consumed, a symbol of the Virgin
Birth of Christ.
Noe's Ark: A savior, Noe preserved the natural life of all within
the Ark; Christ brings supernatural life to mankind and preserves
that life within His Mystical Body the Church.
The Ark of the Covenant: We address Mary as the Ark of the
Covenant because she, like the Ark of the Old Testament,
contained the most precious Gift of the New Law.
The Altar of Holocaust: Sacrifice was offered daily on the Jewish
altar of holocaust--a type of the Christian altar and the daily
sacrifice of the Mass.
The Apple: "O Happy Fault, whereby we have merited so great a
The Paschal Lamb: At the yearly Pasch, the Jews sacrificed a new,
unblemished lamb in thanksgiving for all that God had done for
them and as an atonement offerfng for all their sins. This
sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb was fulfilled in Christ, the "Lamb
who takes away the sins of the world."
The Pillar of Fire: In the Old Testament, God appeared in a
pillar of fire to lead His people through the desert, as Christ
leads us through the desert of life.
Manna: The manna which the Jews ate in the desert for forty
years was a symbol of Christ, the true Bread which descended from
For suggestions on how to use these symbols, consult the following
books under Jesse and "O" Antiphons (or O Antiphons), available
on Catholicism Online:
"Family Advent Customs," Helen McLoughlin
"Christmas to Candlemas in a Catholic Home," Helen McLoughlin
"Cooking for Christ," Florence Berger
"Homemade Christians," Mary Reed Newland
"The Year and Our Children," Mary Reed Newland
"Year of Our Lord in the Christian Home," Francis X. Weiser, S.J.
"Around the Year with the Trapp Family," Maria Augusta Trapp.