The Wreath and Torch
The laurel wreath is a common motif in architecture. In Greek mythology Olive tree is associated with the goddess Athena. The wreath is considered one of the oldest Greek symbols. They were worn by brides and awarded to victors, in wars and ancient olympics. They were made of wild olive-tree known as “kotinos” or of laurel which refers to the plant Laurus nobilis. Later the early Christians were familiar with many of the emblems of Greeks and used them with new ideas in their religion. They used the wreath and torch symbol to depict life and peace, death and victory through Jesus, the Christ. Since that time the torch and wreath have been used separately to convey many other meanings.
The laurel wreath refers to victory, glory, honor, saintliness and eternity, or heroism and achievement in arts. Whilst the torch refers to enlightenment and hope. Until the church banned such things, most people were buried at night. Torches furnished the light which both allowed the gravediggers to see and the bearers to scare off evil spirits and nocturnal scavengers and the flame signifies eternity. The upright torch can also refer to immortality, liberty and the scholastic world.
However we cannot decide what that symbol on the keystone means unless we study the building’s history and background, when was it built, who built it and for whom and what was its original function.