Flaming Chalice (Unitarian Church)

The flaming chalice was originally the emblem of the Unitarian Church. The symbol was designed in the nineteen forties, and officially adopted in the seventies as an official symbol of the Unitarian Universalist Church.

According to Church literature, the chalice symbolizes generosity, the flame symbolizes truth, and the chalice and the flame together form a cross, symbolizing the Church’s Christian roots.

However, no particular meaning is considered canonical. According to the designer, artist Hans Deutsch, “No one meaning or interpretation is official. The flaming chalice, like our faith, stands open to receive new truths that pass the tests of reason, justice, and compassion.”

The design likewise is flexible, the most common being enclosed within a double circle representing the twin heritage of the Church.

The original design

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Religious Symbol Dictionary | symboldictionary.net
October 7, 2009 at 2:00 pm

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Caren Maene April 30, 2016 at 7:11 am

Hi I was raised a UU and can not find a copy of the original symbol which only had one circle. I am not sure why it is so hard to find now. It was the standard symbol used in UU jewelry as well as on all the literature in the 60′s, when I was a UU child. Can anyone help me find the original symbol as well as a piece of the jewelry?

thanks.

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Rev. J. Mark Worth July 15, 2014 at 9:36 am

Here’s another comment from a Unitarian Universalist: I’m told that Hans Deutsch, who designed the symbol for the Unitarian Service Committee, was borrowing from the followers of Jan Hus, a priest burned at the stake for heresy in 1415. Hus had shared the communion chalice with the people, symbolizing the equality of the priest and congregation (not done in the Catholic Church in those days). His followers combined the flame of his execution with the chalice he shared with the people, creating a symbol of religious liberty.

A more contemporary version of the flaming chalice can be seen at http://www.uua.org/

Best to you,
Rev. J. Mark Worth

Reply

Rev. Andrew Karlson April 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm

I’m glad to see the symbol of my faith in this excellent online resource–thank you!

I do have a little feedback, however. The symbol of the flaming chalice was originally the symbol for the Unitarian Service Committee. The USC was formed to assist people in Eastern Europe who were trying to escape Nazi persecution. It was, and remains, a separate entity from the Unitarian Universalist Association (not Church, as many of our atheist and agnostic members would remind us!) and works to advance human rights and social justice in the US and around the world.

Here is a link with a deeper story of the flaming chalice:
http://uua.org/publications/pamphlets/introductions/151248.shtml

Here is a link to the UUSC’s website:
http://uusc.org/about_UUSC

And here is the link to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s website:
http://uua.org

Again, thank you for the excellent website, and blessings.

Best,

Rev. Andrew

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