The main attribute of a person who believes in God is a cross or crucifix. Along with that, Christians often wear other types of religious-themed jewelry: Christian rings, pendants with icons, medallions, etc. Believers use jewelry as amulets to protect themselves from evil and enlist the support of higher powers. Even in the 21st century, in the age of technology and science, spiritual people haven’t ceased wearing church rings. Believers think that a ring with the engraving "Bless and Save" or Biblical motives will protect from evil spirits and evil eyes.
A bit of History
The most famous museum of the Vatican has gathered a huge collection of ancient Christian artifacts. The collection includes the first icons, censers, medallions, and Christian crosses of III-IV centuries. The exhibition also showcases the very first rings. In the times of early Christianity when the religion just started spreading across Europe, people didn’t wear crosses. They used rings as the symbols of faith.
There are several references to rings in the Bible. For example, Pharaoh gave Joseph his ring as a symbol of power. In the same way, Artaxerxes gave his ring to Haman to seal a royal decree. After his return, the prodigal son received a ring from his father as a symbol of dignity. As you can see, the rings mentioned in the Bible are signets that served as a symbol of dignity and authority.
Ancient Christians wore thin, simple rings without inscriptions, made of iron, bronze, gold or silver. They featured a round disk with engraved letters XP (Chi Rho). These are the first letters of the Greek word ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ (Christos), which means Christ. Such rings bore deep significance for people of faith. They denoted the reunion of a man with God, the unity with him, and eternity.
In Europe, the tradition to wear rings came along with Christianity from Byzantium in the II millennium BC. Much later, people started adorning rings with words from prayers. Not only were such pieces of jewelry symbols of faith but also amulets against evil spirits. Rings with prayers were widespread in the XIX century and you can still find them in church shops or jewelry stores.
An Amulet or Jewelry?
Many centuries ago, Christian rings served as identification marks, through which people recognized their fellow believers. Later, believers started carving the words of prayers on their rings to give properties of an amulet.
Not every person has faith in his or her heart when buying a ring with religious symbols. Many individuals purchase them as stylish jewelry or a gift. Some believers are shy to openly show their faith. Therefore they pick jewelry with prayers engraved on the inside.
Even among the priests, there is no consensus about whether a ring is an amulet or a symbol of faith. This said, ministers of god point out that the main goal of Catholic ringlets is to remind a person about faith and his/her belonging to Christ.
There are many stories about the miraculous features of consecrated jewelry. People often notice that a ring suddenly changes its color, turns black, suddenly breaks, or gets lost inexplicably. Church officials often attribute such cases to the fact that a ring staves off the trouble away from its owner.
The most famous church rings are the bishop and papal rings. The former are handed to newly elected bishops, while the latter are given to the Pope.
A ring is presented to a bishop at the ceremony of enthronement. This ring is considered to be a symbol of the bishop's engagement with the church.
Bishops and popes adored their rings so much that they did not want to part with them even after death. That is why the magnificent collections of bishop rings have been found in papal sarcophagi and preserved to this day. Many scholars believe that the clergy borrowed the tradition of wearing rings from ancient pagan priests who were dedicated to serving Jupiter.
Ancient pagan symbols engraved on precious stones testify to pagan influence as well. In many cases, jewelers added an inscription to such an engraved gem to give a pagan symbol a mew Christian meaning. Sometimes, however, gems were not supplemented with any text because a gem was simply considered as ornamentation that has no specific purpose.
In the Middle Ages, Bishop rings started being decorated with amethysts, which were recognized as the canonical precious stone of the Church. Bishops received amethyst rings without engraving as a symbol of the purity and integrity of faith.
The Ring of the Fisherman
One of the symbols of Popes is the papal ring that is also called The Ring of the Fisherman or the Piscatory Ring. Each Pope who assumes office wears this piece of jewelry on the ring finger of his right hand. The first Pope, St. Peter, was a fisherman by profession. First, he was a catcher of fishes, then he became a fisher of men. In honor of his craft before consecration, all popes wear the ring of the fisherman.
As a rule, the papal ring depicts apostle Peter in a boat throwing nets in Lake Gennesaret. The design of rings is created individually for each Pope and his name is minted above the image of Peter. After the death of a pontiff, his ring is broken with a special silver hammer. This is done with the aim to officially declare the throne vacant. Due to the fact that this signet also performed the function of a personal seal (Popes sealed personal letters and some documents), it was destroyed to prevent false decrees on behalf of the deceased pontiff. Today, popes do not use their signets as a seal (for this purpose they have a modern stamp with red ink) but the tradition to break the papal ring has been preserved in the Vatican ceremony.
Most of the papal rings are made of gold. However, even this rule has exceptions. For instance, Pope Francis became one of a few pontiffs who rejected such luxury as a golden ring. He opted for a simple silver ring with gold plating. On top of that, instead of the traditional image of Apostle Peter in a boat throwing nets, his signet depicts Peter with the keys, which are a symbol of papal authority.
Popular Symbols in Christian Rings
Christian jewelry is characterized by moderation and modesty as apostolic exhortations prohibit wearing ‘gold, pearls, or precious stones’.
In contrast to the richly decorated jewelry for clerics, Christian rings for believers remain more austere. It is due to the fact that vanity and pride, which can be seen through lush jewelry, are a sin.
Christian rings are often decorated with crucifixes and crosses. Other Christian symbols are widespread in jewelry production as well. It is interesting that some of these symbols originated in pagan cultures and were later redefined to conform to Christian beliefs.
So, the most popular symbols that are depicted on Christian rings are:
Angels. As messengers of God, angels are intermediaries between the Heaven and Earth. These creatures are not subject to the earthly laws of time and space, and their bodies are not made of flesh and blood. Angels can be depicted in different ways. For example, an angel with a fiery sword is a symbol of Divine justice and anger. Having banished our ancestors from heaven after their fall into sin, God sent Cherubim with a fiery sword to guard the road to the tree of life. An angel with a trumpet symbolizes resurrection and the Last Judgment.
Archangels. They are the highest angel’s rank. Archangel Michael, the messenger of God's judgment, is depicted as a warrior with a sword. Archangel Gabriel, a messenger of God's mercy, carries the gospel and a lily in the other hand. Archangel Raphael, God's healer and keeper, is depicted as a pilgrim with a staff and a knapsack. Archangel Uriel, is the fire of God, his prophecy and wisdom. He is drawn with a scroll or a book in his hands.
Grapes. In Christian art, grapes appear as a symbol of Eucharistic wine and, therefore, the blood of Christ. The vine is a generally accepted symbol of Christ and the Christian faith, based on the biblical metaphor. In particular, Christ says: "I am the true vine ..."
Dove is the Christian symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity. Holy Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit as a person distinct from God the Father and God the Son.
Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Mother of Jesus Christ. She is the daughter of Joachim and Anna and Joseph's wife. She is the most reverent and comprehensive image of Christianity. The Virgin Mary also has a symbolic meaning - she personifies the church.
A star. The wise men set off to the place of Jesus' birth seeing a sign - a star in the east.
A ship is considered to be the symbol of the Church, which safely takes us to heaven through the sea of life. Therefore, the main part of a temple is called nave - a ship. A cross on the mast symbolizes the message of Christ, which gives power to the church and guides it.
A Cross. A cross symbolizes divergent concepts in different religious traditions. One of the most frequently encountered meanings is the meeting of our world with the spiritual world. For the Jewish people, crucifixion was a method of shameful and cruel execution which caused insurmountable fear and horror. However, thanks to Christ, a cross became a welcome trophy that commands joyful feelings.
A boat is another symbol of the church. A boat’s net symbolized the Christian dogma, and the fish are the men converted to the Christian faith. Many of Jesus' disciples were fishermen before they became apostles. Jesus called them “fishers of men,” as if alluding to their former profession. Moreover, he compares the Kingdom of Heaven with a net thrown into the sea that catches fish of various kinds.
The Moon and the Sun. The moon symbolizes the Old Testament, and the sun - the New Testament. As the moon receives its light from the sun, so the Law (Old Testament) becomes understandable only when it is illuminated with the Gospel (New Testament). Sometimes, the sun is depicted as a star surrounded by tongues of flame while the moon is drawn as a woman’s face with a sickle. There are also explanations that the sun and the moon convey the two natures of Christ. Some scholars believe that that the sun is a symbol of Christ and the moon is the church.
Eye of the Lord. It is depicted as a symbol of divine omniscience, all-seeing and wisdom, inscribed in an equilateral triangle (the symbol of the Trinity). The all-seeing eye and the omniscient divine observe all men, whether we work or serve him, sleep or awake. He does not have an evil eye, He sees not only sin. For Christians, the all-seeing eye is a symbol of hope, not a threat.
The olive branch is a symbol of peace between God and men. It also denotes hope. A dove with an olive branch means the herald of peace.
An eagle rising to the sun is a symbol of the Resurrection. This interpretation is based on the idea that an eagle, unlike other birds, flies near the sun. It plunges into the water to renew its plumage and regain youth. An eagle is a symbol of a soul that seeks God, as opposed to a serpent, which symbolizes the devil.
Fish is one of the oldest symbols of Jesus Christ. In Greek, “fish” sounds like “IXThYS”. The letter "I" means "Jesus"; the letter "X" - Christ; “Th” is Theou, i.e. "God"; the letter "Y" is Yios, i.e. "Son", and the letter "S" is Soter, which means "Savior." Thus, the fish symbol translates as Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior.
A heart can often be seen in images of the XV century. It often radiates flames (fiery heart), which symbolizes spiritual burning.
The trefoil clover symbolizes trinity, union, balance, and also destruction. It can be symbolically replaced by one large leaf. Christianity borrowed it as a symbol of the Trinity. It is also the emblem of St. Patrick.
The rosary is a symbol of piety and service to the Church and people. Rosary is extremely simple and at the same time capacious and impressive model of time. The beads are connected by the same thread – it conveys some kind of continuum.
Types of Crosses Engraved on Christian Rings
XP (Chi Rho) is one of the earliest cruciform symbols in Christianity. It is formed by putting together the first two letters of the Greek version of the word Christ. Although technically, Chi Rho is not a cross, it is associated with the crucifixion of Christ and symbolizes his status as the son of Lord. It is believed that Emperor Constantine was the first to use this symbol in IV AD.
On the eve of the battle at the Milvia Bridge in 312 AD, The Lord appealed to Constantine and ordered that the image of Chi Rho be painted on the shields of the soldiers. After Constantine’s victory in the battle, Chi Rho became the official emblem of the empire. Archaeologists have found evidence that Chi Rho was depicted on the helmet and shield of Constantine and his soldiers.
Latin Cross, also known as the Protestant Cross and the Western Cross. The Latin cross (crux ordinaria) serves as a symbol of Christianity, despite the fact that it was the symbol of the pagans long before the founding of the Christian church. Its images are found on the Scandinavian sculptures of the Bronze Age that embody Thor, the god of war and thunder. The cross is considered to be a magical symbol. It brings good luck and drives evil away. Some scholars interpret the cross as a symbol of the sun or a symbol of the Earth, the arms of which designate north, south, east, and west. Others point out its similarity with the human figure.
Tau-cross resembles the Greek letter "T" (tau). It is the key to supreme power. In biblical times, it acted as a symbol of protection. It is also known as the cross of St. Anthony (the founder of Christian monasticism, IV century). Since the beginning of the XIII century, it became the emblem of Francis of Assisi. In heraldry, it is called the Almighty Cross. Tau cross symbolizes the abolition of the disobedience of old Adam and the transformation of Christ into our Savior, new Adam.
Greek cross. Unlike the traditional Latin cross, the arms of the Greek cross are of the same length. The Greek cross is historically considered to be the earliest. It is also known as the square cross or the cross of St. George. This form of the cross was traditional for Byzantium, which is why it is called Greek.
Jerusalem Cross. Otherwise known as the Crusader Cross, it consists of five Greek crosses that denote the five wounds of Christ. According to other versions, it symbolizes 4 Gospels and 4 corners of the world (4 smaller crosses) and Christ himself (the large cross).
The baptismal cross. It consists of a Greek cross combined with a Greek letter "X", the initial letter of the word Christ. This cross means rebirth, and therefore, it is associated with the rite of baptism.
The Cross of Saint Peter. When Peter was sentenced to martyrdom, he asked to crucify him upside down out of respect for Christ. Thus, the inverted Latin cross is attributed to Peter. In addition, it serves as a symbol of the papacy. Unfortunately, this cross is also used by Satanists, whose goal is to ‘invert’ Christian believes, including the Latin cross.
How to Choose and wear Christian Rings
You need to wear Christian rings in a certain way, following strict rules. Otherwise, they won’t be able to guard against evil people and bad luck. The first and foremost, you should keep the faith in God and live a righteous life.
It is best to buy Christian rings in church shops. There, they are sanctified by holy water and special prayers. It is believed that only consecrated items have protective properties. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t buy rings elsewhere. Our online store offers a great selection of Christian and bishop rings with religious motifs and symbols. You can consecrate such jewelry in a church and it will have the same property as rings purchased in a church shop.
As for metals, the best choice for Christian rings is silver. If you don’t want jewelry to harm your energy, you shouldn’t wear products made of different metals.
You should treat holy things with respect. Do not scatter them around. Try to keep rings close to yourself at all times. Be very attentive and don’t lose them because the loss of a consecrated ring can mean the loss of divine grace.
Catholic Rings for Men, Women, and Children
There is a wide range of Christian rings available on the market. Most items are universal meaning that they are suitable for everyone regardless of gender and age. You just have to choose the right size.
Christian rings designed specifically for men often feature a prayer to Jesus. The popular images carved or embossed on rings for males are Saint Nicholas of Myra, Archangel Michael, and Archangel Gabriel. Such rings and signets look very solid and majestic.
Christian jewelry for women has more subtle and refined designs. Such rings are often covered with enamel and decorated with floral ornaments or precious stones or gems. The most widespread motifs are images of Madonna and other holy women.
Christian rings for children do not differ from items for adults. They carry the same significance. However, they rarely feature precious stones and their designs are rather simplistic.
Gold and Silver in Christian Jewelry
The most common metal for Catholic rings and jewelry is silver. It symbolizes purity, innocence, and chastity. You should remember that silver jewelry often oxidizes. Therefore, your rings may tarnish with time. You shouldn’t attach any negative meaning to the change of color. This is a natural process. You can quickly remove an oxide film from the surface with a soft cloth, chalk, and baking soda.
Christian gold rings were rare among the early Christians. This is due to the fact that expensive and abundant jewelry did not correspond to the teachings of the early church. Today, the church does not forbid gold items but as a righteous Christian, you should only wear modest and small rings of precious metals. Gold Christian rings symbolize the divine glory of Christ. Such pieces of jewelry are worn mainly by men and clergymen. Unlike silver, gold rings do not tarnish.