Trinity Sunday

Trinity, the longest season of the year, begins today, and with it begins the Fool‘s journey through the houses of the Upper Arcana, presided over by the seasonal arcana of the (19) Sun. During this season I also display an image of The Holy Family, by Raffaello Sanzio, the original of which I saw at an exhibition of treasures from the Hermitage Museum at an exhibition in Hiroshima back in the 1990s.

The Holy Family as Earthly Symbol of the Trinity

The Holy Family may be seen as an earthly symbol of the Trinity, as noted by the 18th century Jesuit commentator, Cornelius à Lapide,

Symbolically, in this marriage and family union of Joseph with Mary there was an image of the sacred Trinity. For Joseph represented the eternal Father, the Blessed Virgin the Holy Spirit, both because she was the most holy, and because she had conceived by the Holy Spirit. Christ represented Himself, even the Son of God. Hence, as there is in the sacred Trinity essentially one God in three Persons, so here was there one marriage and one perfect family, consisting of three persons, namely, Joseph, Mary, and Christ… This family was then, as it were, a heaven upon earth…

Cornelius à Lapide, S.J., The Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew, 1:18 trans. Thomas W. Mossman, Loreto Publications, 2008, p. 30. Source:

The Doctrine And Symbols of the Holy Trinity

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is most succinctly expressed in the Athenasian Creed:

…the Catholick Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
Neither confounding the Persons: nor dividing the Substance.
For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son: and another of the Holy Ghost.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son: and such is the Holy Ghost.
The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate: and the Holy Ghost uncreate.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible: and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal: and the Holy Ghost eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals: but one eternal.
As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated: but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.
So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty: and the Holy Ghost Almighty.
And yet they are not three Almighties: but one Almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God.
And yet they are not three Gods: but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord: and the Holy Ghost Lord.
And yet not three Lords: but one Lord.
For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity: to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;
So are we forbidden by the Catholick Religion: to say there be three Gods, or three Lords.
The Father is made of none: neither created, nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created, but begotten.
The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons: one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.
And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other: none is greater, or less than another;
But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together: and co-equal.
So that in all things, as is aforesaid: the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

Book of Common Prayer

The doctrine is illustrated in the emblem that is displayed on the shields and banners of churches dedicated to the Holy Trinity and in various triangular or trefoiled symbols which are often seen in gothic church architecture of the high middle ages.

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace,
by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty, to worship the Unity: we beseech thee, that thou wouldest keep us steadfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer

The Old Testament Reading

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare if thou hast understanding.

Job 38: 4

The New Testament Reading

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the spirit.

John 3: 8

Liturgical Affirmation

Ego sum lux mundi.

Quisquis non reciperit regnum Dei velut parvulus, non intrabit in illud.

I am the light of the world. Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein

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