A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.
Emblem of the Epiphany. A second-century scene of the Magi in the catacombs displayed a star, "and in front of them was the star they had seen rising, it went forward and halted over the place where the child was" (Matthew 2:9). The star is a symbol of Christ: "I am of David's line . . . the bright star of the morning" (Revelation 22:16). "A star from Jacob takes the leadership, a sceptre rises out of Israel" (Numbers 24:17). The eight-pointed star seen in conjunction with Mary's symbol of the "Tower of David" in the Litany of Loreto is illustrative of Christ's glory. The star is also the symbol of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose brilliance never dims and to whom the famous titles Ave Maris Stella and Stella Matutina are addressed. In some icons Mary's mantle is studded with stars and she is often crowned with them. "A great sign appeared in the heavens, a woman adorned with the sun, standing on the moon and with twelve stars on her head as a crown" (Revelation 12:1-3). St. Dominic carries a star in his halo, and St. Nicholas of Tolentino has one on his breast--both distinctive emblems for these saints.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.