On this plain rounded-top white marble tablet in the Springhill Cemetery at Nashville, Tennessee, the anchor cross is carved into the oval inset at the top of the gravestone. The anchor cross is an ancient Christian symbol that has been found in catacomb burials as early as the First Century and as late as the Third Century. Romans persecuted early Christians—feeding them to the lions, forcing them battle to the death in the arenas, or burning them at the stake. The Christians who hid in the catacombs and practiced their religion in secret left messages of hope carved next to the anchor cross symbols. In this way, the anchor was used by early Christians as a disguised cross.
Some Church historians believe that the anchor cross was adopted when Emperor Trajan had Saint Clement tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea for proselytizing and converting Romans to Christianity. Others believe it was a clever way to disguise the most Christian of symbols—the cross.
Over time, the anchor served as a symbol of Christ and his anchoring influence in the lives of Christians. Just as an anchor does not let a moored boat drift, the anchoring influence of Christ does not allow the Christian life to drift. The anchor cross is also called the Mariner’s Cross. It is viewed as a symbol of hope. It can also represent a “fresh start”.