SYMBOLOGY.biz > Christian Symbols > Decending Dove Of Peace
In Christianity and Judaism, a dove is generally a sign for peace
. This comes from the Old Testament: a dove was supposedly released by Noah after the Great Flood in order to find land. The dove came back carrying an olive branch in its beak, telling Noah that the Great Flood had receded and there was land once again for Man. (Genesis 8:11). This symbolized that God was ending his "war" with mankind. The appearance of the rainbow (Genesis 9:12-17) at the end of the Flood story also represents peace, whereby God directs His "bow" toward Himself, an ancient symbol of a cessation of hostilities. The motif can also represent "hope for peace" and even a peace offering from one man to another, as in the phrase "extend an olive branch". Often, the dove is represented as still in flight to remind the viewer of its role as messenger.
In the New Testament, the dove is also a symbol of the Holy Spirit, as in Matthew 3:16 (King James Version) "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove
, and lighting upon him"