The olive branch has long been a symbol of peace. The olive leaf was referenced in Genesis 8:11 "When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth." (NIV). This was taken as a symbol that the flood waters had receded and there was peace.
Later in history, the olive branch represented peace in Greek and Roman cultures. Here, wreaths of olive branches were given to the winners of the Olympic games and were presented by Roman envoys as a symbol of peace.
In Christian art, the olive branch is a symbol of peace. The Archangel Gabriel is sometimes depicted holding an olive branch. This is used as a sign of the return of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Olive branches are also seen on Christian tombs in the catacombs.
I use olive branches and leaves in a variety of ways in the Peace Collection. The inspiration for the collection is John 14:27.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."