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Catholic Dictionary




The universal symbol of the Holy Spirit. At Christ's baptism the Spirit's presence was noted by a dive descending upon Christ (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10, with similar passages in John and Luke). Accompanying the dove in art are the Seven Gifts of the Spirit, usually represented as parted tongues of fire. The dove with its seven flames is also emblematic of the sacrament of confirmation. Doves in numbers symbolize souls and are often portrayed with the chalice, representing their being fed with the Precious Blood of Christ. Carrying an olive branch, the dove is a symbol of peace. Surrounding the cross, twelve in orderly array, they signify the Apostles, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Gregory the Great, and St. John Chrysostom all have the dove as one of their emblems.