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The symbol of Satan, also of evil. The tempter in Eden appeared as a speaking serpent, subtle in his questioning, the easier to seduce Eve. In connection with Mary the serpent represents the fulfillment of the prophecy "I will make you enemies of each other, you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. It will crush your head and you will strike its heel" (Genesis 3:15). A coiled serpent with an apple in its mouth, seen encircling the globe of the earth, appears as an emblem of the evil spirit being overcome by Christ through Mary in images of the Immaculate Conception.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.