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Dictionary

A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.

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SHELL

An emblem of baptism since the twelfth century. Once pouring water was the accepted mode for baptizing, the shell became a handy accesory. Also a symbol for the pilgrim, explaining probably why the shell is an emblem of St. James the Apostle, whose shrine is a famed place of pilgrimage. It is also the emblem for St. Augustine, who had a vision of a child (believed to be Christ) who told him that he could sooner empty the ocean with a shell than understand the Trinity. The shell is likewise one of the numerous symbols of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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