All my life have I been steeped in Catholic Tradition but I ‘ve taken it for granted, merrily assimilating them as part of the Catholic me. I have always known the shepherd is symbolic of Christ. I can’t even remember when I acquired this knowledge. I never questioned why or where it originated. Well, on my trip to Rome I realised just how much Tradition is part of the Catholic Faith. It rests on it firmly and unequivocally, as far back as the times the time of our ancestors in the Old Testament!
I attended part of a course on Catechises (that of passing on of the Faith) at Maryvale College, in which the above symbol was presented as a matter of course during discussion. It was pointed out as being the symbol present on the cover of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This changed my perception of the symbol: a simple picture of a shepherd with his sheep, used to grace the cover of the document outlining the Tradition of the Church? It must be of much significance then!
Well, it is.
On the inside cover of the CCC is this explanation for the use of the symbol:
‘The design of the logo on the cover is taken from a Christian tombstone in the catacombs of Domitilla, in Rome, which dates from the end of the third century A.D. This pastoral image, of pagan origin, was used by Christians to symbolize the rest and the happiness of that the soul of the departed finds in eternal life
This image also suggests certain characteristics aspects of the Catechism: Christ, the Good Shepherd who leads and protects his faithful (the lamb) by his authority (the Staff), draws them by the melodious symphony of the truth (the panpipes and makes them lie down in the shade of the ‘tree of life’, his redeeming Cross which opens paradise.’
On this trip to Rome, I didn’t get to the catacombs of Domitilla, but did visit the catacombs of St Calistus. The photograph above, is of this wonderful symbol used by the Christians of ancient Rome to communicate their affinity with Christ and with one another. As it was used as pagan symbol the adoption of it by the Christian communities in Rome ensured that they would meet safely to participate in the Eucharist without fear of reprisal or capture.
The objective of this post? To point out that the links to Catholic
Connection Tradition runs deep and wide. It is far reaching and extensive. I experienced it in the garden and catacombs of fellow Christians who have gone before me.
Take a little time to unearth them and see for yourself.
I give thanks and pray about this as written by St Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:3:
‘We are indebted to give thanks to God for you always, my brethren, as it is necessary, because your faith grows all the more and the love of each and every one of you increases toward his neighbour.’