The Ark of the New Covenant

The Ark of the New Covenant is a symbolic object in the form of a boat. It is also a throne where the King sits, that is, Christ in the Blessed Sacrament inside a monstrance. It is also a container for the Holy Scriptures, which when proclaimed in the liturgy become the presence of Christ speaking to the world.

The name of the Ark of the New Covenant

The Ark of the New Covenant’s name originates in the Bible. It recalls the original Covenant: the spiritual experience of the people Israel and their pact with God given through Moses on Mount Sinai. The term New Covenant refers to the new and everlasting covenant given in Jesus Christ through the paschal mystery of his death and resurrection—as celebrated by Christians in the Eucharist.

The Virgin Mary—Ark of the Covenant

The Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, carried Christ in her womb. This is why the Church calls her the “Ark of the Covenant” in the prayer entitled Litanies of the Blessed Virgin.

The base of the Ark of the New Covenant

The base of the Ark of the New Covenant is in the form of a boat. It brings to mind Noah’s Ark, the vessel God commanded Noah to build. Here, however, the emphasis is more on the boat of Peter, the apostle to whom Christ entrusted his Church. (cf. Jn 1:42). Since the time of the New Covenant, a bark or boat has symbolized the Church: God’s pilgrim people setting sail, following Peter’s example (cf. Lk 5:4). The Church, sent out into the world by Christ, proclaims the Gospel to all nations through its words and deeds.

Five different kinds of wood were used to build the base of the Ark. They symbolize the universality of the Church, proclaiming that the good news of the Gospel is for all nations, called to become ONE body in Jesus Christ.

The angels in adoration before the mystery

In Israel, the cloud covering the Ark of the Covenant was the sign of God’s physical presence among his people. To speak to the Israelites, God descended to enter the small space between the spreading cherubim wings at the top of the ark. (cf. Ex 25:21).
The Ark of the New Covenant symbolizes the full mystery of Christ. Therefore, the angels are present in adoration.

The hold of the Ark of the New Covenant

The Ark’s hold was designed to receive messages on its travels—testimonies of Christian commitment. In article 14 of his encyclical God is Love, Benedict XVI reminds us that, “A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented.” The Eucharist and mission constantly call each other into being.

The Ark is carried

In Israel, the Ark of God was carried before his people as they marched through the desert. (cf. Nb 10:33–35). The Ark of the New Covenant is also carried in processions from one place of worship to the next, one church to the next, and one diocese to the next. A symbol of God’s presence, it accompanies the pilgrim Church, the people of God made up of believers of all ages as they follow in Christ’s footsteps. The Ark is also there to accompany anyone wishing to pursue the path of faith toward the mystery of Christ. Its symbolism invites anyone seeking the water of life to listen to Jesus’ words to the woman of Samaria, “If you only knew the gift of God.” (Jn 4:10a)

The eight icons

Four large icons—representing various moments in the paschal mystery—decorate the top of the Ark of the New Covenant:

The Last Supper The Passion and Death of Jesus The Vigil of Mary The Resurrection of the Lord

Four smaller icons bring to mind the Eucharist, table of the New Covenant, in its different forms:

The Multiplication of the Loaves The Wedding Feast at Cana The Washing of the Feet The Disciples at Emmaus


Description of the icons

Download detailed descriptions of each icon with Biblical references. Developed by Father Fernand Villeneuve, diocese of Hearst

Ark of the New Covenant replicas

Replicas of the Ark of the New Covenant are available for purchase at Art 3D, La Procure Ecclésiastique, and Éditions de la CECC.

To order posters and icons, visit the promotional items section of the website.

© 2008 International Eucharistic Congress