Swastikas in Christianity

I have no wish to reignite the board’s many swastika debates (though you can find my strongly held opinion on the matter in the linked threads); however, I saw something very odd this weekend and I wonder if anyone can shed some light on it.

I was in Coventry Cathedral on Sunday, and saw a tomb of Bishop Huyshe Wolcott Yeatman-Biggs who died in 1922. On the band around his mitre are three distinct swastikas. Here’s a pic of one of them. Note that they are also pointing in the same direction as the Nazi symbol.

Anyone have any ideas about the semiotics of the swastika in a Christian context? I’ve googled, and while many people mention the swastikas, nobody says what it symbolises.

(N.B. his effigy is holding a model of the mediaeval cathedral: he was responsible for its restoration. Why are there raindrops on his effigy in my picture? Because his tomb lies in cathedral that was burned to the ground by Nazi incendiary bombs. Now that’s irony.)

Not specifically about Christianity, but Cecil had a few things to say about swastikas.

The Wikipedia page on Swastikas seems to be saying (in a rather sketchy way) that they have been used in Christianity as just another decorative variant of the cross symbol.


There was a Swastika Laundry in Dublin up until at least the mid 1970s.

I’ve seen swastikas in the chapel of Abbotsholme School in Derbyshire… the school has a tradition of mysticism though (school symbol is a pentangle) and was founded with a strong esoteric streak it its ethos, so although the school is christian it’s from an eastern-influenced perspective which might be why swastikas appear.

It’s not just the direction, as seen in the first two pics the Wiki page, it’s also whether it’s upright or at a 45° angle (and there are exceptions to both (half way down the section)).

It’s an incredibly old, amazingly wide spread, symbol.
IMHO it’s always cool to see them* (outside of that narrow other usage).

CMC fnord!
*I recently noticed, and approvingly commented on, the recently added swastika on my Indian born Hindu Doctor’s front door. :cool:

I visited the dig of a 4th century church in Ohrid, Macedonia last year, and there were swastikas in the iconography. Although Macedonians are Orthodox today, this dates from before the split between Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox.

You can see a picture if you have Facebook. Another picture, with swastikas pointed in both directions.