The Great Inscription
An inscription (Matthew 28:19-20) runs along the upright section of the roof under the coffered ceiling: “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to fulfill all that I have commanded you, and behold I am with you all days even until the consummation of the world.”
Symbols on the Ceiling
North side from Saint Joseph’s Chapel to Fourth Avenue
THE LAMB OF GOD: John proclaims Jesus “the lamb of God” when he comes to the Jordan to be baptized (John 1:29).
KEYS AND CROWN: Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom (Matt 16:15) establishing his church under the leadership of Saint Peter.
SHELL AND WATER: The traditional symbol for the Sacrament of Baptism.
FLEUR-DI-LIS: The Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven, is symbolized by the lily flower.
CIBORIUM: A symbol of the Eucharist.
TOWER OF IVORY: Represents the Virgin (Song of Songs 7:5), the three windows symbolize the Holy Trinity.
BIRDS PLUCKING GRAPES: Souls quench their thirst on the Eucharist.
MENORAH: Ancient symbol of worship in the Jerusalem temple.
South side from Fourth Avenue to the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary
FLOWERING CROSS: The life giving Cross of Jesus Christ, flanked by pendants proclaiming him our “alpha” and “omega”, the beginning and the end.
SHIP: The faithful are gathered with Saint Peter as helmsman.
LOAVES AND FISHES: (Matthew 15: 32-39; Mark 6:34-44) Jesus, the only true food.
LILIES OF THE FIELD: (Matthew 6:28) We must place our trust in God as our Father.
BASKET OF LOAVES: (MARK 8:1-21) The second feeding of a multitude by Jesus out of compassion for the crowd, while refusing to give a sign to the insincere.
THISTLE: The thistle signifies the suffering Christians must accept as part of life.
ANCHOR AND CROSS: The combination of an anchor and cross has long symbolized that the soul anchored in Christ shall come through life’s journey safely.
CHI RHO: The series of symbols concludes with the divine monogram for Christ made from the first two Greek letters in the word Christ, signifying “Jesus Christ, Son of God.