The dove as a Christian symbol is of very frequent occurrence in ancient ecclesiastical art. According to Matthew 3:16, during the Baptism of Jesus the Holy Spirit descended like a dove and came to rest on Jesus. For this reason the dove became a symbol of the Holy Spirit and in general it occurs frequently in connection with early representations of baptism. It signifies also the Christian soul, not the human soul as such, but as indwelt by the Holy Spirit; especially, therefore, as freed from the toils of the flesh and entered into rest and glory. The Peristerium or Eucharistic dove was often used in the past, and sometime still used in Eastern Christianity, as Church tabernacle.
However the more ancient explanation of the dove as a Christian symbol refers to it as a symbol of Christ: Ireneaus in the 2nd-century explains that the number 801 is both the sum of the numeric values of the letters of the word “dove” (in Greek: Ρεριστερα) and the sum of the numeric values of the letters Alpha and Omega, which refers to Christ. In the Bible story of Noah and the Flood, after the food a dove returns to Noah bringing an olive branch, and this scene recalled to the Church Fathers Christ who brings salvation through the cross. This biblical scene led to interpreter the dove also as a symbol of peace.