The ancient symbolism of the Vesica Piscis

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The Vesica Piscis, known also as Almond, is a decorative symbol used by several cultures from Europe, Asia and Middle East. 

Graphically it is the central part of a figure obtained by the overlap of two circles. In fact, the centre of one circle is located on the circumference of the other. The name derives from the similarity to the swim bladder of a fish. 

 

the vesica piscis

 

During the Middle Age the Vesica Piscis spread due to the knights and monastic orders, assuming a Christian connotation like the Ichthys figure. The symbol rotated ninety degrees is, in fact, similar to a fish. 

 

the vesica piscis

 

In the Christian iconography the fish is a symbol of Christ. The book of Luke (5,10) contains these words: “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people”.

Moreover, the word Ichthys (fish in ancient Greek) was used as an acronym of Iesùs CHristòs THeù HYiòs Sotèr (Jesus Christ son of God).

 

the vesica piscis
The symbol in the facade of the church of San Francesco, San Gimignano (SI)

 

The Vesica Piscis symbol has two meanings. It is the link between God and man (the two circles) which passes across the intermediation of Christ, the Ichthys. Additionally, it is also an almond, symbol of life and fertility. 

 

Samuele Corrente Naso

(Translation by Daniela Campus)

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