The Eye of Providence (or the all-seeing eye of God) is a symbol, having its origin in Christian iconography, showing an eye often surrounded by rays of light or a glory and usually enclosed by a triangle. It represents the eye of God watching over humanity (the concept of divine providence).
In the modern era, a notable depiction of the eye is the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States, which appears on the United States one-dollar bill.
The Eye of Providence is sometimes associated with Freemasonry, although it is a Christian symbol. Often in Freemasonry, however, it is shown with a cloud rather than a trinitarian triangle. The Eye first appeared as part of the standard iconography of the Freemasons in 1797, with the publication of Thomas Smith Webb’s Freemasons Monitor.
Here, it represents the all-seeing eye of God and is a reminder that humanity’s thoughts and deeds are always observed by God (who is referred to in Masonry as the Great Architect of the Universe). Typically, the Masonic Eye of Providence has a semi-circular glory below it. Sometimes this Masonic Eye is enclosed by a triangle.
Popular among conspiracy theorists is the claim that the Eye of Providence shown atop an unfinished pyramid on the Great Seal of the United States indicates the influence of Freemasonry in the founding of the United States.
However, common Masonic use of the Eye dates to 14 years after the creation of the Great Seal. Furthermore, among the members of the various design committees for the Great Seal, only Benjamin Franklin was a Mason (and his ideas for the seal were not adopted). Indeed, many Masonic organizations have explicitly denied any connection to the creation of the Seal.