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Rome Reports

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Catholic symbolism hidden in “The Lord of the Rings”

J.R.R. Tolkien is considered by many experts as one of the best writers of the English language. His acclaimed fantasy novel, “The Lord of the Rings” is widely read and admired across the world. 

Born in 1892 Tolkien, along with his brother, were raised by Oratorian and a student of Card. John Henry Newman, Fr. Francis Xavier Morgan. This is because their parents died when they were young. 

As Joseph Pearce notes, writer and expert on Tolkien, the famous writer wanted to communicate the importance of his Catholic faith through his stories.  

Director of Book Publishing at the Augustine Institute

“He said for instance and I am quoting him word for word, 'The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work, unconsciously so at first, consciously in the revision.'” “He actually went through and made sure any quirks in the story that were not true to a Catholic understanding of reality, to Catholic theology, he actually corrected the text consciously to ensure that the 'The Lord of the Rings' conformed with a Catholic worldview.”

According to Joseph Pearce, there are many important events and dates which occur in “The Lord of the Rings” that are connected to Catholicism. 

Director of Book Publishing at the Augustine Institute

“The wearing of the ring is the committing of sin, the act of sin. However, the bearing of it, the carrying of it is like carrying the cross. So Frodo becomes a cross bearer and therefore a Christ figure. Another interesting thing is the fellowship of the Ring leave Rivendell on December 25. So Frodo's journey from Rivendell to Mount Doom, Golgotha, is the life of Christ, from his birth to his death.”

He also notes how in the novel the ring is destroyed on March 25, the annunciation of Our Lady. This day is also traditionally believed to be the date Christ was crucified. Therefore, the destroying of the ring is on the same day Christ becomes a man and also the day He destroyed sin.  

According to Joseph Pearce, although many people at first overlook the Catholicism in The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien intended to communicate the faith through the form of storytelling, an approach Christ used also in His parables. 

Director of Book Publishing at the Augustine Institute

“So if Christ himself sanctifies stories, by teaching us some of the important lessons through the telling of stories, we can see how stories, how fiction can be a very powerful way of conveying truth.”

He adds how Tolkien's subtle way of using this fantasy novels to communicate the faith also enables non-Christians to enter the story and move closer to Christ.