Can someone help me understand what the hand symbols/gestures in old paintings of the saints mean. The one where the thumb and ring finger are touching and the others are out? I cannot find any good place that explains them on the web. Thanks so much.
That’s the priestly hand of blessing.
The two extended fingers form IX, short from Ἰησοῦς Χριστος, Jesus Christ. Also, two for the two natures of Christ. (Note that the Greek is also the source of the IC XC abbreviation. Warning, my spelling in Greek is not reliable…)
Three joined in one for the Trinity.
Note that the two natures and the three in one are also present in the Byzantine posture for others when making the sign of the Cross… two fingers and thumb joined to form one point of contact, representing the trinity, and the two remaining pressed into the palm representing the Two Natures of Christ.