Symbols of Forgiveness

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As Lewis B. Smedes once said, to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. Forgiveness is often one of the most difficult things for a person to do, but it’s also one of the most important. Forgiveness brings peace, allowing you to let go of anger and hurt, and moving on with your life.

In the same way, asking for forgiveness can be equally difficult but equally rewarding. If you’re stuck in a rut, either because you’ve been hurt by someone or have hurt someone close to you, these symbols will serve as inspirations for forgiving and (if not forgetting) at least letting go.

List of symbols of forgiveness

Forgiveness Symbol

The forgiveness symbol is simplistic in its design. It features the outline of a circle, with two horizontal bars running through it and extending beyond the perimeter of the circle. This Native American symbol represents forgiveness, new beginnings, and letting go of the past.

The Cross

The Christian symbol of the cross is one of the most recognized symbols of forgiveness, within the Christian context. It represents forgiveness, salvation, and redemption, and Jesus’ victory over death and sin. According to the Bible, Jesus’ death on the cross was needed in order to bring forgiveness to the world and wash away the sins of the people.

Mpatapo – Knot of Reconciliation

This Adinkra symbol features a square formed in one single stroke, with each edge looping over itself to continue the shape. This tangled look represents the regrets, problems, and baggage people carry that messes their lives up, creating knots that they can’t seem to untangle. Mpatapo represents reconciliation, hope, and peacemaking. It encourages you to engage with and address the issues that are holding you back, for only then can you go forward.

Clasped Hands

A symbol of forgiveness is that of two hands clasped together. Shaking hands with someone is a sign of friendship and amity, therefore this symbol represents the act of letting bygones be bygones, putting the past behind you, and making a commitment to friendship.


Since ancient times, flowers have been used to convey messages. This tradition of using flowers to say what’s in your heart became highly popular during Victorian times, where whole conversations could be had with flowers.

If you would like to apologize or ask for forgiveness from someone you’ve hurt, the following flowers represent these sentiments. They show that you care about the other person’s feelings and would like to mend things with them.

White Tulip

Because tulips come out in all their glory during springtime, after the coldness of winter, they represent new beginnings, optimism, and hope. White tulips represent forgiveness, purity, and tranquility, and the desire to mend fences and begin afresh. These flowers are perfect to give along with an apology.

Blue Hyacinth

One of the most beautiful flowers to look at, hyacinths feature clustering towers of fragrant, little bell-shaped flowers. These flowers have several meanings based on their color, but the blue variety is often used to convey feelings of sorrow, regret, and a request for forgiveness. The color blue represents honesty, trust, and truth, and by giving a bouquet of these blue blooms, you can seek forgiveness for telling an untruth and make a promise that it won’t happen again.


One of the most lauded flowers in English poetry, daffodils represent optimism, happiness, rebirth, and forgiveness. Recognized by their trumpet-shaped blooms and bright, yellow color, daffodils are typically given in a bouquet as it’s believed that a single daffodil represents bad luck and sadness. Daffodils convey the wish to start a new chapter, and look forward to a more hopeful, optimistic future. They’re the perfect way to say I’m sorry.

Clementia and Eleos

Clementia was the goddess of forgiveness, compassion, mercy, and redemption in Roman mythology, and whose counterpart and inspiration was Eleos in Greek mythology.

Clementia is typically depicted holding a branch, and a scepter. The branch is believed to be an olive tree branch, which symbolizes peace.

On a side note, it’s interesting to note that the Greeks had a strong sense of justice and fairness, but not of forgiveness and mercy.

Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.

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