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Good Shepherd, Sign of The

When Jesus was relating (Luke - xv) the parable in which one having lost a sheep goes into the wilderness to search for it, He said: "And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing." Hettner, a German writer on Greek customs, says: "When the Greek carries home his lamb, he slings it round his neck, holding it by the feet crossed over the breast. This is to be seen with us also, but the sight is especially: attractive at Athens, for it was in this manner that the ancients represented Hermes as the guardian and multiplier of flocks; so stood the statue of Hermes at Olympia. Occhalia. and Tanagra Small marble statues of this kind have even come down to us , one of which is to be seen in the Pembroke collection at Wilton House; another , a smaller one, in the Stoa of Hadrian, at Athens. This representation, however, appears most frequently in the oldest works of Christian arts in which the laden Hermes is turned into a laden Christ who often called himself the Good Shepherd, and expressly says in the Gospel of Saint Luke, that when the shepherd finds the sheep, he lays it joyfully on his shoulder." Now, although the idea of the Good Shepherd may have been of pagan origin, yet derived from the parable of our Savior in Saint Luke and his language in Saint John, it was early adopted by the Christians as a religious emblem. The Good Shepherd bearing the sheep upon his shoulders, the two hands of the Shepherd crossed upon his breast and holding the legs of the sheep, is a very common subject in the paintings of the earliest Christian era. It is an expressive symbol of the Savior's love of Him who taught us to build the new temple of eternal life-- and, consequently, as Didron says, "the heart and imagination of Christians have dwelt fondly upon this theme; it has been unceasingly repeated under every possible aspect, and may be almost said to have been worn threadbare by Christian art. From the earliest ages, Christianity completely made it her own." And hence the Christian Degree of Rose Croix has very naturally appropriated the sign of the Good Shepherd, the representation of Christ bearing his once lost but now recovered sheep upon his shoulders, as one of its most impressive symbols.

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