Halo (Aura, Nimbus)

A Halo in religious art is a symbolic representation of the aura or nimbus of light believed in many cultures to surround a Godly or enlightened person. Halos are used especially in Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, and Hindu religious images to depict holiness. Halos can also be found in ancient Roman and Greek art, which were direct influences on the practice in Christian art.


The practice is more than likely a holdover from the identification of deities with the sun.

Hindu Krishna; Apollo with halo; pre-Christian Buddha


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Halo aura | Memorialtees
March 12, 2012 at 3:46 pm


Bruce Canyon March 23, 2013 at 2:17 am

I’m with Lara on this one, it was definitely a representation of God’s Sun atop the Cross of the Zodiac.

James Sharp August 4, 2011 at 1:48 pm

The halo might have originated from an optical illusion. This is not to denigrate the halo as a significant symbol of religion but it could indicate an important physical link to historical events. Thousands of years ago prophets may have addressed crowds in the open from a raised area so everyone could hear. As there were no microphones in those days onlookers in the crowd would have to look closely at their lips to understand what is being said. The human eye being fixed in this position would experience an effect called instantaneous contrast caused by areas of the retina becoming de-sensitized by the bright sky in the background and remaining sensitive in the dark ares of the figure. Because the eye would be scanning across the face the sensitive area of the retina would go off-register causing the illusion of a glow. This illusion, not appearing in everyday life, may have been attributed to the orator and when verbal descriptions of the event were interpreted later by others including artists it may have led to the birth of the halo we know today.

Charles January 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm

The halo is obviously a universal symbol depicting spiritual enlightenment or at least a high level of spiritual evolution. To my mind, it represents the human energy field, which we call the “aura”. It is just that in the case of highly evolved people, this luminescence is more obvious, and therefore remarked upon more readily. In the case of the art mentioned above it is simply an affirmation that we are all self-effulgent, which means that we shine with our own light.

Lara-Rose July 27, 2010 at 7:22 am

I’m quite certain that the origins of the “halo” originate fro the idea of heliocentric pagan beliefs that the SUN was God, that was adapted to represent the SON as God (in other words Jesus Christ) so theoretically it is not a original Christian symbol it was first used long before Christianity was unveiled to depict the life giving, therefore worthy features for worship of the sun. Example include, bringing life to plants and providing safety from the dark predator filled night. So I have to disagree and feel that this “halo” is not a genuine Christian symbol created for their purpose.

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