What Was the Origin of the Halo?

About the origin of the religious symbol the halo seen in various works of art as a kind of crown around the heads of angels and saints.


What Was the Origin of the Halo? Surprisingly, the halo is both pagan and un-Christian in origin. Many centuries before Christ, natives decorated their heads with a crown of feathers. "They did so to symbolize their relationship with the sun-god: their own 'halo' of feathers representing the circle of light that distinguished the shining divinity in the sky. Indeed, people came to believe that by adopting such a 'nimbus' men turned into a kind of sun themselves and into a divine being."

Later in history, the Roman emperors who began to think of themselves as divine beings wore a crown in public to imitate the sphere of light from the sun.

The need to preserve art objects also added to the development of the halo. "Statues were kept not in museums but in the open. Therefore they were subject to deterioration through various causes. To protect them from the droppings of birds, the rain and the snow, a circular plate--either of wood or brass--was fixed upon their heads!"

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