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Dove (The)


The dove, in Christian art, symbolises the Holy Ghost. In church windows the seven rays proceeding from the dove signify the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. It also symbolises the human soul, and as such is represented coming out of the mouth of saints at death.

A dove with six wings is emblematic of the Church of Christ.

The seven gifts of the Holy Ghost are: (1) counsel, (2) the fear of the Lord, (3) fortitude, (4) piety, (5) understanding, (6) wisdom, and (7) knowledge.

Doves or pigeons not eaten as food in Russia. (See Christian Traditions.)

Doves or pigeons. The clergy of the Church of England are allegorised under this term in Dryden’s Hind and Panther, part iii. 947, 998–1002.        

“A sort of doves were housed too near the hall … [i.e. the private chapel at Whitehall]

Our pampered pigeons, with malignant eyes,

Beheld these inmates [the Roman Catholic clergy].

Thoʹ hard their fare, at evening and at morn,

A cruse of water and an ear of corn,

Yet still they grudged that modicum,”


Soiled doves. Women of the demimonde.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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