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Goldie wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have recently been made aware of St. Rita, the patron saint of lost causes. I am very interested in iconography, so I've done a web search for images of her, and in several she is shown holding a human skull.

The web articles explained the head wound and the crucifix is rather
self-explanatory, however, please explain the symbolism of the skull.

I could certainly use the intercession of a patron of lost causes!

I also covet the prayers of your dear readers, as I will pray for you and the service that you provide with this web site.


  { Can you explain the symbolism of St. Rita holding a skull? }

Mike replied:

Hi Goldie,

Thanks for the question.

After looking at a few web sites, I found the probable answer to your question.

The skull at the base of the cross symbolizes Adam, the first man, believed to be the original sinner. The blood from the crucified Christ is intended to cleanse mankind (represented by Adam's skull) of its sins. People prayed to images of Christ so that He may offer supernatural gifts:

  • salvation of the world
  • peace
  • pardon of sin
  • bearing of sufferings
  • piety, or
  • a peaceful death.

I hope this answers your question.

You and your friends may also be interested in my new web site. It's about the very first Christians who lived from 100 A.D. to 787 A.D. We refer to them as the Early Church Fathers.

Pass the word!


Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
Suggestions for this web page and the web site can be sent to Mike Humphrey
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The Early Church Fathers Church Fathers on the Primacy of Peter. The Early Church Fathers on the Catholic Church and the term Catholic. The Early Church Fathers on the importance of the Roman Catholic Church centered in Rome.