The Anchor and the Ark are emblems of a well-grounded
hope and a well-spent life.
The Anchor is an emblem of hope, peculiarly a Christian,
and thence a Masonic symbol.
The following and foregoing information may be found
in Mackey’s Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Volume 1, 1929.
It is first found inscribed on the tombs in the catacombs in Rome, and the idea
of using it is probably derived from the language of Saint Paul.
(Hebrews 6:19): “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and
Primitive Christians looked upon life as a stormy voyage, and glad were the
voyagers when it was done, and they had arrived safe in port. Of this, the anchor
was a symbol and when their brethren carved it over the tomb, it was to them an
expression of confidence that he who slept beneath it had reached the haven of
eternal rest. …Kip, Catacombs of Rome, page 112.
Sacred and Legendary Art, I, page 34, Mrs. Jameson: “The anchor is the
Christian symbol of immovable firmness, hope and patience; and we find it very
frequently in the catacombs and on the ancient Christian gems.”
This representation of the anchor is the peculiar attribute of Saint Clement,
and is often inscribed on churches dedicated to him.
The ark, (or ship) has been adopted as a symbol of the voyage of life; but,
unlike the anchor, it was not confined to Christians, but was with the heathens
also a favorite emblem of the close of life.
Kip thinks the idea may have been derived from them by the Christian
Fathers, who gave it a more elevated meaning.
In Freemasonry, the ship has been substituted by the ark.
Mrs. James says in the above work that “the Ark of Noah floating safe amid
the deluge, in which all things else were overwhelmed, was an obvious symbol of
the Church of Christ…The bark of St. Peter tossed in the storm and by the
Redeemer guided safe to land, was considered as symbolical.”
In the Third Degree, whose teachings all relate to life and death, “The
anchor and the ark are emblems of a well-grounded hope and a well-spent life.
They are emblematical of that Divine ark which safely wafts us over this
tempestuous sea of troubles, and that anchor which shall safely moor us in a
peaceful harbor where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary shall find
Such is the language of the lecture of the Third Degree, and it gives all the
information that is required on the more mysterious (esoteric) meaning of these
The Anchor, as a symbol of hope, does not appear to have belonged to the
ancient and classic system of symbolism.
End Albert Mackey. Credit and full acknowledgment for information about the anchor and the ark is given to Albert Mackey, Mackey’s Revised
Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Volume 1, 1929.