153 large fish (MERGED)


Is there any significance in the number 153?


St Jerome says that zoologists had identified 153 different kinds of fish. The point seems to be that the Apostles (Fishers of men) will gather all the fish (believers) from all nations into the net of the Church. The fact that the net is not torn points to the unity of Jesus’ Church.


Fascinating theology. Do you have a reference for which of his writings this is?


Yes I would say it is significant then!
Thank you very much :wink:


Some biblical scholars believe that the number number 153 represent the number of countries that were believed to exist during them times.


Here's a chunk, stolen from Wikipedia (don't worry I'll go to Confession ;)):

The precision of the number of fish in this narrative has long been considered peculiar, and many scholars, throughout history, have argued that 153 has some deeper significance. Jerome, for example, wrote that Oppian's Halieutica listed 153 species of fish, although this could not have been the intended meaning of the Gospel writer because Oppian composed Halieutica after the Gospel text was written, and at any rate never gave a list of fish species that clearly adds up to 153.[7][8] It has also been noted that the Tetragrammaton occurs 153 times in the Book of Genesis.[9]

Augustine of Hippo argued that the significance lay in the fact that 153 is the sum of the first 17 integers (i.e. 153 is the 17th triangular number), with 17 representing the combination of divine grace (the 7 gifts of the Spirit) and law (the Ten Commandments).[10][11] Theologian D. A. Carson discusses this and other interpretations and concludes that "If the Evangelist has some symbolism in mind connected with the number 153, he has hidden it well,"[12] while other scholars note "No symbolic significance for the number of 153 fish in John 21:11 has received widespread support."[13]

Writers claiming a major role for Mary Magdalene have noted that in Greek isopsephy her epithet "η Μαγδαληνή" bears the number 8 + 40 + 1 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 30 + 8 + 50 + 8 = 153, thus, it is suggested, revealing her importance.[14] Similarly, the phrase "τὸ δίκτυον" (the net) used in the passage bears the number 1224 = 8 × 153,[14] as do some other phrases. The significance of this is unclear, given that Koine Greek provides a choice of several noun endings[15] with different isopsephy values.[16] The number 153 has also been related to the vesica piscis, with the claim that Archimedes used 153 as a "shorthand or abbreviation"[14] for the square root of 3 in his On the Measurement of the Circle. However, examination of that work[17] does not find the number 153 used in that way.[4]

Evagrius Ponticus referred to the catch of 153 fish, as well as to the mathematical properties of the number (153 = 100 + 28 + 25, with 100 a square number, 28 a triangular number and 25 a circular number) when describing his 153-chapter work on prayer.[18] Louis de Montfort, in his fifth method of saying the Rosary, connects the catch of 153 fish with the number of Hail Marys said (3 plus 15 sets of 10),[19] while St Paul's School in London was founded in 1512 by John Colet to teach 153 poor men's children, also in reference to the catch.


Yes, I heard this mentioned in a homily on the Friday after Easter. The Gospel reading for that day was the same as today’s, except with the “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” section omitted.


Yea MarcoPolo, his commentary on Ezekiel (14, 47). Dr Hahn alludes to this in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible.


See my post on this thread: Question about today’s Gospel Reading (April 14th)

Fr. Barron thinks it represents all the people of the world whom the Church is charged to draw to the Faith in her preaching ( net ) throughout the world. The ancient world thought that there were 153 species of fish; thus, they represent the people of the world who are to be converted; that is, drawn in with the net of the Church’s preaching.




[quote="IneedGod, post:1, topic:322968"]
Is there any significance in the number 153?


I can't believe there were 8 whole answers on a Catholic site on this ... and I can still be the first to mention the 153 "Hail Mary's" said in a full rosary (three between the creed and the first decade, then 15 mysteries worth of decades (150).

Pope John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries, which would run the total to 203 -- but the original Rosary was called the "Angelic Psalter" (a way for the common folk and those who could not read to join with the monks who used to sing all 150 Psalms before the Renaissance when the rosary was popularized by St. Dominic and others).

The 153 fish was considered a miracle. The Rosary was touted as very powerful (for its
perseverance in prayer, meditation on the central mysteries of Christianity, and the power of prayer to work miracles).

The Dominican Sisters that taught me as a child were reputed to say a full rosary (15 decades - and the initial 3 Hail Marys for 153) each day. Some of them wore their large rosaries around their waist like a rope!

This one sister (forget her name now ... but one of my fourth grade teachers) used to walk up and down the aisles (as we did our tests or assignments) - and spun a couple of decades of the ponderously long rosary like a lasso about to be thrown.

You could hear her coming up behind you "whir, whir, whir, Woop, woop, woop!" Possible a nervous habit - possibly a well crafted warning to those who would copy off a neighbor's paper! Lol.

The only other way to describe that action is to compare it to a cartoon I saw of a wolf wearing a zoot suit ... who'd spin his pocket watch by his side, just off the hip, by its long chain (as part of the image of "cool").

I can't see the number 153 without thinking of the rosary for those reasons.

And thinking of Jesus' little miracle ... and the humble obedience of Peter that led to it as being somehow related to the power of a rosary, reverently prayed, leading to other "little miracles."

I say little because ... while the 153 fish might have made Peter and his friends temporarily "rich" for the day (when they had been poor and unsuccessful after a night time of hard work unrewarded) ... Peter was about to get less worldly marching orders (feed my sheep).

We too can be changed when we kneel and pray even just five decades of a rosary (the usual amount done in a day -- 53 being another number that catches my attention when I see it).


Joyful Mysteries:
1st Mystery: Humility: "we ask for humility of heart"
2nd Mystery: Charity: "we ask for a perfect love of our neighbour"
3rd Mystery: Love of the poor: "we ask for detachment from the things of this world, love of poverty and
love of the poor"
4th Mystery: Purity: "we ask for the gift of wisdom and purity of heart and body"
5th Mystery: Conversions: "we ask you to convert us and all sinners, heretics, schismatics and pagans"

Sorrowful Mysteries:
1st Mystery: Contrition: "we ask for perfect sorrow for our sins and perfect conformity to your holy will"
2nd Mystery: Spirit of mortification: "we ask for the grace to mortify our senses"
3rd Mystery: Detachment from the worldly: "we ask for a deep contempt of the world"
4th Mystery: Patience: "we ask for great patience in carrying our cross after you all the days of our life"
5th Mystery: A holy death: "we ask for a great horror of sin, a love for the Cross and the grace of a holy
death for us and for those who are now in their last agony"

Glorious Mysteries:
1st Mystery: Faith: "we ask for a lively faith"
2nd Mystery: Hope: "we ask for a firm hope and a great longing for heaven"
3rd Mystery: Truth: "we ask for your holy wisdom that we may know, taste and practice your truth and
share it with everyone"
4th Mystery: Devotion to Our Mother: "we ask for the gift of true devotion to her in order to live a good life
and have a happy death"
5th Mystery: Perseverance: "we ask for perseverance and an increase in virtue up to the moment of our
death and thereafter the eternal crown that is prepared for us"



Jerome, what you wrote is exactly what Father said in his homily today. :yup:

Also, Father pointed out that it was specified that these were “large” fish, rather than just “fish”. In other words, all of those 153 fish were “keepers” … none were thrown back. :slight_smile:

He didn’t mention it, but just now as I’m writing this, I was reminded of John 10:28:

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.


This is great :)
Love new ( to me) discoveries! I get excited :D
Bless you all for your answers.


In the Gospel of John for the Third Sunday of Easter, Chapter 21 Verse 11 states:
Peter went aboard and dragged the net ashore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them;

What is the significance of the 153?


Various Doctors and theologians have speculated on it. Some of them add and multiply numbers of the disciples, the Trinity, etc. See the major theories nicely summarized here.

Then there’s the view of the 18th cen. Scripture scholar Robert Witham, who calls it “a figure of the great number to be converted by the labours of the apostles” (qtd. in Haydock). In other words, according to Witham there’s no significance to the number 153, other than it being large, and symbolizing a large number of converts.


We are the fish. The net is the Church.

Jesus told Peter, the head of the Church, where to cast the net so that we could be caught. Jesus guides the Church.

There were 153 nations known at that time. Fish in Peter’s net from every nation.

Peter dragged the net to the shore to lay at Jesus’ feet. If we want to meet Jesus we need to be in Peter’s net which is the Church.

The net was not torn. The Greek word for torn is schism. The Church will be without schism at the end of time.



Yes. This is what my theology professor told me .
That the number represented ALL MANKIND.


More discussion in this thread :slight_smile:




153 = “measure of the fish”



I always find it interesting that if you add 1+5+3 you get 9. Which is 3x3.
3, being the number of the Trinity, is a very holy number.
3x3 would be the ultimate number of holiness.
To me, 153 fish seems very significant in that respect.


I always find it interesting that if you add 1+5+3 you get 9. Which is 3x3.
3, being the number of the Trinity, is a very holy number.
3x3 would be the ultimate number of holiness.
To me, 153 fish seems very significant in that respect.

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