Unitarian Universalist Congregation
of Northern Chautauqua

companionship on life's sacred journey

Our Symbol: the Flaming Chalice

A flame within a chalice (a wide-lipped stemmed cup), like that which you can see at the top of this page, represents the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and is a symbol of the Unitarian Universalist (UU) faith.

“At the opening of Unitarian Universalist worship services, many congregations light a flame inside a chalice. This flaming chalice has become a well-known symbol of our denomination. It unites our members in worship and symbolizes the spirit of our work.” -Dan Hotchkiss

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. Unitarian Universalists today have many different interpretations of the image. To many, the cup represents religious community, while the flame represents ideas including the sacrificial flame, the flame of the spirit, and more.

The flaming chalice image has changed many times over the past 65 years. There is no single interpretation of today’s flaming chalice symbol. Modern chalice designs often incorporate two overlapping circles which, for many people, represent our Unitarian and Universalist heritages. Other images include additional elements, some of which are merely decorative and others which are very meaningful.

Our current official UUA logo (at the top left of each UUA.org web page) was designed to offer a visual representation of a modern and dynamic faith. Unitarian Universalist congregations are free to use the UUA’s logo in their congregational work, but they are not required to do so. Because of this, you may see many different styles of flaming chalices and other images used by UU congregations.