Symbolisms of the Reformed Faith

The Twelve Mosaic Crests



In The Sanctuary of Central Presbyterian Church

Brantford, Ontario, Canada


The location of The Twelve Mosaic Crests symbolizing the church history of the Reformed Faith throughout the world are on the northern interior wall extending to the southern wall in the sanctuary of Central Presbyterian Church. Each of the crests are artistically represented and historically dated. The family names of the generous donors are engraved on the plaques below the crests.

The Historical Background
of The Reformed Faith Crests


GENEVA

Geneva

- This is the Seal of the Calvinistic Church of Switzerland. On a silver grey background there is a circle with the words in Latin which being translate are "Geneva, the Sun, the Shield, of this Church". These words surround a red centre with a golden sunburst having in its own centre the I.H.S. These three letters represent the first two and the last letters in the Latin scrip representing the name of Jesus. The small shields in the upper corners are the insignia of two of the Protestant cantons, Geneva on the left and Berne, the one with the bear, on the right. The lower shields are the personal insignia of Calvin and Beza - that of Calvin, which shows a burning heart in an outstretched hand was always accompanied by his own motto, "I give Thee my heart, O Lord, simply and sincerely." The year 1541, which appears on this shield is the year in which Calvin was formally invited by the people of Geneva to return and be their religious leader.

ITALY

Italy

- Here again we have a silver gray background with a blue centre in which there is a burning candlestick surrounded by seven stars. These seven stars refer to the seven Churches mentioned in Revelation 1, verse 20. The candlestick was the insignia of the Protestant churches in the Piedmont Valley. The branches on each side of the centre panel are oak leaves on one side and olive leaves on the other. Across the top are the Latin words meaning, "The light shines in the darkness". The date 1540 on this shield is the date of the first General Synod of the Reformed Church of Italy. The reason why this shield is placed second rather than first is interesting. Calvin first came to Geneva in 1536 and worked there with the Reformer Morrel. Morrel visited the Protestants in Italy and encouraged them to form a church in the Reformed tradition. This they did in 1540. In the meantime, Calvin had been ejected from Geneva. He was asked to return in 1541 when the church there was formally established. There is little doubt, however, that it was the influence of Calvin and Morrel working out of Geneva which established the Italian Branch of the Reformed Church in 1540.

FRANCE

France

- Here we have a blue background with the Maltese Cross. The Maltese Cross got its name because it was used by the Knights of Malta. There are four fleur de lis, or lilies, on the four corners of the shield - these lilies are the floral emblem of France. The dove beneath the Cross symbolizes the Holy Spirit. The date 1559 is the date of the first General Synod of the French Reformed Church. In 1555, the ideas of John Calvin began to take root in his homeland; and in 1559, the Confession Gallicana started the principles of the French Reformers. The form of government for Presbyterianism came from France. Each local church had a "session" of minister and a group of lay-elders. Above this body was the presbytery, composed of the ministers and an equal number of elders of all churches located with in it. The Provincial was the next court, including all the Presbyteries of the province, and above this was the General Synod, representing all of France. In 1598, the Edict of Nantes was passed giving both Roman Catholics and Protestants the same rights before the law; unfortunately it was revoked in 1685 and nearly 4,000,000 Huguenots or French Protestants fled the country forever. France never recovered from the loss of these talented people.

SCOTLAND

Scotland

- Here we have a blue background with a large St. Andrew's Cross. St. Andrew was, of course, the patron saint of Scotland. In the centre is a gold circle with the words, "Nec Tamen Consumebatur" - "nevertheless not consumed". The Burning Bush is in the centre of the circle representing the Church, the Body of Christ, exposed to fires of persecution yet remaining unscathed in the flames. The Thistle is a Scottish symbol possibly dating from the founding of the Order of the Thistle established by James II in 1687. The date 1560 is the date of the first Scotish Confession. In 1557, some of the Scottish people made a covenant for mutual protection against the Roman Church. With the death of Queen Mary Tudor and the accession of Queen Elizabeth, John Knox (1505-1572), in 1559 was able to return permanently to Scotland and establish a Reformed Church. The Church of Scotland was established by an Act of Parliament in 1592 and was so recognized by later Parliaments. It was given complete autonomy in 1639. The crest at its centre, The Burning Bush of Exodus, God's first revelation to Moses.

HOLLAND

Holland

- Here against a lovely blue background with a large St. Andrew's Cross, St. Andrew's of course, the patron saint of Scotland. In the centre is a gold circle with the words, "Nec Tamen Consumebatur" - "nevertheless not consumed". The Burning Bush is in the centre of the circle representing the Church, the Body of Christ, exposed to fires of persecution yet remaining unscathed in the flames. The Thistle is a Scottish symbol possibly dating from the founding of the Order of the Thistle established by James II in 1687. The date 1560 is the date of the first Scotch Confession. The principles of the Protestant Reformation began to permeate Holland soon after 1521. From 1566 to 1576, there were ten years of war in The Netherlands, with the despotism or oppression of the Spanish Duke of Alva on the one hand the republicanism of William of Orange and his followers on the other hand. In 1576, William of Orange and his supporters triumphed. The freedom of religion was assured to the Dutch people.

HUNGARY

Hungary

- Here again we have a silver gray background; in the upper left hand corner is the sun with a face, which probably refers to Reveiation 1:16, where the Lord is described in the following terms - "and his countenance was as the sun shineth in His strength." The Phoenix which we see in the centre of this shield is a symbol of the Resurrection. The Palm Tree is a symbol of victory. The Lamb with the banner on its shoulder represents the Resurrection and when we have a Cross on the banner it is a sign of triumph. The two open books means the dissimination of truth by both text and doctrine. The lettering is Hungarian and refers to Roman 8: verse 31, "if God be for us, who can be against us." After the middle of the 16th Century, Reformed churches sprang up all over Hungary and in spite of severe persecution between 1593 and 1606, a great portion of them survived. The fight for the Reformation was led by Stephen Boecsky. His victory was affirmed by the Peace of Vienna of 1606 and established religious liberty and political autonomy for the churches.

GERMANY

Germany

- Here we have the red and black German colours and a silver circle with the words, "The Reformed Fellowship of Germany". In the centre of the circle is an open book - again we have the thought of the dissemination of truth by Word of Doctrine with the words in Latin - "The Word of God endureth forever." The date 1563 is that of the Heidelburg Catechism. Although Lutheranism was dominant tradition of Germany and Scandinavian countries, the crest symbolizes the Reformed Faith in Germany.

ENGLAND

England

- The Seal of the Presbyterian Church in England is a silver gray with a red Latin Cross, the Cross of St. George. There are two entwined circles here, one containing the Burning Bush and the other an open Bible with the words, "The Word of God Endureth Forever". A dove representing the Holy spirt is above the circles and in each corner there is a rose, the floral emblem of England. The date 1572 is the date of the establishment and organization of the Presbytery of Wandsworth, the first of the English Presbyteries. Presbyterian ideas were evident in England in the time of Edward VI (1537-1553) King of England and Ireland (1541-1547). Crammer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, held that there was no difference in priets and bishops, in Apostolic times, and he favoured the creation of provincial synods and a council of Presbyters in each diocese. The 39 Articles of the Church of England are infused with the Reformation. In 1876, all branches of the Presbyterian Church were united in one organization called the Presbyterian Church of England.

MORAVIA - BOHEMIA

Moravia - Bohemia

- This is the modern Czechoslovakia. This Seal is in two halves, the blue half, that of Moravia, shows a checkered eagle; this is the insignia of the Holy Roman Empire. The Bohemian side has a rampant lion. In the centre there is an oval with a chalice signifying the Lord's Supper. A palm branch is, also, introduced here signifying victory and a closed book which indicates mystery. A banner at the bottom has the Latin words, "Truth Always Triumphs". The date 1609 is the date of the first Bohemian Protestant Confession. Beginning with the Hussite Movement of the 15th Century, the Moravians established a Reformed Church. Peter of Chelcic in 1495 held the Bible was the only standard of faith and practice. His chief stress was on conduct not doctrine, and this emphasis has remained with the "Moravian Brethen". In the Bohemian Confession of 1609, the principles of the Reformation were reaffirmed.

IRELAND

Ireland

- The Irish crest is a red St. Andrew's Cross against a silver background with an oval centre which contains a elongated Burning Bush. This is an unusual type of Burning Bush; it is superimposed with shamrocks, the floral insignia of Ireland. The shamrock was also used traditionaly by St. Patrick as a symbol of the Trinity. The Latin inscription, "Ardens sedvirens", is translated, "The Church burning yet living". The date on this particular Seal, 1642, is the date of the establishment of the Presbytery of Carrick-fergus, the first of the Irish Presbyteries. The St. Andrew's Cross on this Seal indicates that the Irish Church, like the Canadian, is a daughter Church of the Church of Scotland. The Presbyterian Church of Ireland dates from the reign of James I (1566-1625), King of England (1603-1625), who settled people from both Scotland and England in Northern Ireland. In 1625, Presbyterians and Episcopalians drew close together in Ireland. Archbishop Usher's "Confession of Faith", admitted the validity of Presbyterian ordination.

WALES

Wales

- The crest or shield of Wales is gold and black, which are the Welsh colours, with the plain cross of St. George, with five daffodils, the daffodil being the national flower of Wales. This Church is a great deal younger than most of the other Churches and arose, actually, from a great evangelical revival which culminated in a schism in the Church in 1811, and which brought into existance the Calvinistic Methodist Church of Wales, which subsequently became the Presbyterian Church of Wales. The Welsh Church originated in the great revivals of 18th Century Britain. Its ministers were presbyterially ordained after 1811, and a confession of Faith was adopted in 1823.

CANADA

Canada

- With the shield of Canada we have a Burning Bush surrounded by a Glory and set in a blue background with white highlights representing the blue of our Canadian skies and waters and the white of our snow. The bush is an Acacia with flowers and lambent flame. The roots of the bush are firmly established in the earth. This is to signify that our Reformed tradition belongs to all men everywhere, if they will. The date 1875, is the date of the Union of the various Presbyterian bodies in Canada, which led to the establishment of the Presbyterian church in Canada. In 1875, the various united bodies of the Presbyterian churches amalgamated in Montreal to form the Presbyterian Church In Canada.

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