The monstrance is the ceremonial vessel used in during the Roman Catholic Mass to display the consecrated communion host. Although the monstrance has taken many shapes during the period of its use, it typically, takes the shape of a solar cross, with a clear central area made of glass or crystal. The host is usually placed in a small crescent shaped holder within the crystal, called a lunette due to its moon-like shape.
Upon the death of Pope John Paul II, the Vatican televised broadcast only an empty monstrance while preparing to announce the Pontiff’s passing.
An ornate Monstrance or Ostensorium
A common symbol of the ancient Assyrian/Mesopotamian Sun God Shamash. It is often referred to as the “Seal of Shamash,” and appears near images of the God, or to represent his presence when worn by Kings or in inscriptions.
The Seal of Shamash is a typical solar symbol, and probably represents the Sun Wheel, or solar calendar, much like the Celtic Cross or the Pueblo Zia. The four arms most likely represent the solstices and equinoxes, which were extremely important calendar days in ancient agrarian cultures.
Image of Shamash- Click for Gallery
A symbol of the Mesopotamian Goddess Ishtar (Anath, Astarte, Inanna). The eight points represent the movements of the planet Venus associated with this Goddess, and the eight gates of the city of Babylon.
In Buddhism, the eight auspicious signs symbolize the eight-fold path of Buddhist practice, and are commonly found on numerous decorative objects, on temples, and used as good luck symbols. They are:
The dharma chakra (literally, ‘wheel of Law’) Buddhist emblem resembling a wagon wheel, with eight spokes, each representing one of the eight tenets of Buddhist belief. The circle symbolizes the completeness of the Dharma, the spokes represent the eightfold path leading to enlightenment: Right faith, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right endeavor, right mindfulness, and right meditation. It is drawn from an Indian symbol, but instead of representing Samsara, or endless rebirth, it symbolizes overcoming obstacles. The Dharma wheel is one of the eight Ashtamangala, or auspicious symbols of Tibetan Buddhism. Sometimes, the wheel is flanked by deer, which refer to the deer park in which the Buddha is said to have given his first sermon.