Italian Spiritual Symbols

Written by karen adams
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Italian Spiritual Symbols
The crucifix is a popular Italian symbol of the Roman Catholic Church. (crucifix image by Tom Davison from

Archaeologists uncover a significant amount of artefacts from Italy. From what these ancient finds show, Roman society resembled present day humanity in their mannerisms and customs. Italian spiritual symbols possess several meanings. For instance, the Roman Catholic church is a general symbol of faith in Italian society, due to its long history in Italy. However, multiple symbols exist within Catholic faith. Outside of Roman Catholicism, there are even more ancient Italian symbols that signify historical superstition and power.

Roman Catholic Symbols

In Italy, Roman Catholicism is an important and historical religion. Vatican City is ruled by the Pope, the highest authority in the Catholic faith. Many symbols in Catholicism are similar to other symbols in Christianity. The crucifix or cross is one of the well-known symbols, which signifies the death of Jesus Christ, another figure of Roman Catholicism. Another symbol of Roman Catholicism is light and darkness. The architecture of a Catholic church uses the idea of light as the altar is built in the East, in addition to the lighting of candles for Easter Vigil. Other symbols relating to the Catholic faith are alpha and omega, signifying beginning and end; Chi Rho, used to symbolise Christ; bread and wine or wheat and grapes, meaning Eucharist; and lamb, to symbolise Christ as a Paschal Lamb. You will also find the use of fish, doves, ships and rainbows in the Catholic faith to mean other symbols of Christ and Holy Spirit.


The Arlecchino or Harlequin signifies a poor character in Italian storytelling. Often, he portrays a coming of age or enlightened character. In history, the Arlecchino comes from a theory that "damned devils" rose from the dead to play tricks on the living. In spiritual stories, he is often a thief who fails at foiling the innocent. Arlecchino characters usually take on a light, humorous role in Italian myths, but his status is quite low, playing the pauper while being smarter than the average peasant. Saint Arlecchino is a modern play focusing on the Arlecchino trying to steal the papacy.

Italian Horn

The Italian Horn, also called Cornu, Cornicello, Wiggly Horn, Unicorn horn, Lucifer's horn or Leprechaun staff, is an amulet worn in Italy as a protection symbol against an "evil eye." Myths surround the Italian Horn in addition to protection, however. Some superstitions also include sexual power, and good luck befalls the wearer of the Italian Horn. If worn with a cross, the horn offers double protection or luck. In ancient Europe, before Christ, animal horns pointed to a moon goddess, considering the horns to be sacred symbols.


The symbol of the fasces means power in Italian. A fasces in ancient Rome was a bundle of rods bound to an axe or other weapon. Fasces combined with laurels signified a festive occasion but also could be cloaked if in mourning. Executioners, magistrates and even dictators used the fasces as a symbol of their authority. Benito Mussolini combined the symbol of the fasces with his fascist movement in Italy in 1921. He wanted to promote the idea of fascist organisations and trade unions with the idea of the fasces, linking the past and the present.

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