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Catholic Dictionary




A symbol of the Church, usually with a cross on her sails. Frequently the ship is represented in full sail plowing through turbulent waters that are testing her progress. St. Hippolytus spoke of the Church as a "boat beaten by the waves but never submerged." Fishermen saints were often represneted with the ship as their emblem, so too the Apostle St. Jude. St. Brendan, the Irish navigator, and St. Francis Xavier both are symbolized by ships. St. Elmo or Erasmus is called the patron saint of sailors, and the phenomenon of St. Elmo's fire, often seen at sea, has been named after him.