Our Symbol: The Flaming Chalice
A flame within a chalice (a cup with a stem and foot) is a primary symbol of the Unitarian Universalist faith tradition. Many of our congregations kindle a flaming chalice in gatherings and worships and feature the chalice symbol prominently.
Hans Deutsch, an Austrian artist, first brought together the chalice and the flame as a Unitarian symbol during his work with the Unitarian Service Committee during World War II. To Deutsch, the image had connotations of sacrifice and love.
The double circles frequently seen around the chalice are a reference to a quote from the poem, “Outwitted”, by Edwin Markham. Markham was officially the poet laureate of Oregon from 1923 to 1931 and was frequently associated with the Universalist church.
“He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic , rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In !”
To Unitarian Universalists today the flaming chalice is a symbol of hope, the sacred, the quest for truth, the warmth of community, the light of reason, and more.
We light a flaming chalice in worship to create a reverent space for reflection, prayer, meditation, and singing.