The Christian cross, seen as a representation of the instrument of the
crucifixion of Jesus The crucifixion of Jesus occurred in 1st-century Judea (Roman province), Judea, most likely in either AD 30 or AD 33. Jesus' crucifixion is described in the four canonical gospels, referred to in the New Testament epistles, attested to by # ...
, is the best-known
symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, Object (philosophy), object, or wikt:relationship, relationship. Symbols allow people to go beyond what is known or seen by creating linkages ...
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's la ...
. It is related to the
crucifix A crucifix (from Latin ''cruci fixus'' meaning "(one) fixed to a cross") is an image of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus on the Christian cross, cross, as distinct from a bare cross. The representation of Jesus himself on the cross is referred to in ...

(a cross that includes a ''corpus'', usually a three-dimensional representation of Jesus' body) and to the more general family of cross symbols, the term '' cross'' itself being detached from the original specifically Christian meaning in
modern English Modern English (sometimes New English or NE (ME) as opposed to Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th centur ...
(as in many other western languages). The basic forms of the cross are the with unequal arms and the with equal arms, besides numerous variants, partly with confessional significance, such as the tau cross, the double-barred cross, triple-barred cross, cross-and-crosslets, and many heraldic variants, such as the cross potent, cross pattée, cross moline, cross fleury, etc. For a few centuries the emblem of Christ was a headless T-shaped Tau cross rather than a Latin cross. Elworthy considered this to originate from Pagan Druids who made Tau crosses of oak trees stripped of their branches, with two large limbs fastened at the top to represent a man's arm; this was Thau, or god.

Instrument of Jesus' execution

John Pearson (bishop), John Pearson, Bishop of Chester (c. 1660) wrote in his commentary on the Apostles' Creed that the Greek word ''stauros'' originally signified "a straight standing Stake, Pale, or Palisador", but that, "when other transverse or prominent parts were added in a perfect Cross, it retained still the Original Name", and he declared: "The Form then of the Cross on which our Saviour suffered was not a simple, but a compounded, Figure, according to the Custom of the ''Romans'', by whose Procurator he was condemned to die. In which there was not only a straight and erected piece of Wood fixed in the Earth, but also a transverse Beam fastened unto that towards the top thereof".

Early Christian usage

There are few extant examples of the cross in 2nd century Christian iconography. It has been argued that Christians were reluctant to use it as it depicts a purposely painful and gruesome method of public execution.''Christianity: an introduction''
by Alister E. McGrath 2006 pages 321-323
A symbol similar to the cross, the staurogram, was used to abbreviate the Greek word for ''cross'' in very early New Testament manuscripts such as Papyrus 66, P66, Papyrus 45, P45 and Papyrus 75, P75, almost like a nomina sacra, ''nomen sacrum''. The extensive adoption of the cross as Christian iconographic symbol arose from the 4th century. However, the cross symbol was already associated with Christians in the 2nd century, as is indicated in the anti-Christian arguments cited in the ''Octavius (dialogue), Octavius'' of Minucius Felix, chapters IX and XXIX, written at the end of that century or the beginning of the next, and by the fact that by the early 3rd century the cross had become so closely associated with Christ that Clement of Alexandria, who died between 211 and 216, could without fear of ambiguity use the phrase (the Lord's sign) to mean the cross, when he repeated the idea, current as early as the apocryphal Epistle of Barnabas, that the number 318 (in Greek numerals, ΤΙΗ) in was interpreted as a foreshadowing (a Typology (theology), "type") of the cross (T, an upright with crossbar, standing for 300) and of Jesus (ΙΗ, the first two letters of his name ΙΗΣΟΥΣ, standing for 18). His contemporary Tertullian rejected the accusation of Christians being "adorers of the gibbet" (''crucis religiosi''). In his book ''De Corona'', written in 204, Tertullian tells how it was already a tradition for Christians to trace repeatedly on their foreheads the sign of the cross. The crucifix, a cross upon which an image of Christ is present, is not known to have been used until the 6th century AD. The oldest extant depiction of the execution of Jesus in any medium seems to be the second-century or early third-century relief on a jasper gemstone meant for use as an amulet, which is now in the British Museum in London. It portrays a naked bearded man whose arms are tied at the wrists by short strips to the transom of a T-shaped cross. An inscription in Greek on the obverse contains an invocation of the redeeming crucified Christ. On the reverse a later inscription by a different hand combines magical formulae with Christian terms. The catalogue of a 2007 exhibition says: "The appearance of the Crucifixion on a gem of such an early date suggests that pictures of the subject (now lost) may have been widespread even in the late second or early third century, most likely in conventional Christian contexts".Extract from ''The Earliest Christian Art'' (Yale University Press, 2007), pp. 227-232
/ref> The Jewish Encyclopedia says:

In contemporary Christianity

File:Salvadordelmundo.jpg, Cross on each side of the Monumento al Divino Salvador del Mundo pedestal Image:CROSS1601.JPG, A man holding several Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Orthodox pectoral crosses In Christianity, communicants of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Churches are expected to wear a cross necklace at all times; these are ordinarily given to believers at their baptism. Many Christians, such as those in the tradition of the Church of the East, continue the practice of hanging a Christian cross in their homes, often on the direction of prayer, east wall. Crosses or crucifixes are often the centre of a Christian family's home altar as well. Catholics, Eastern Orthodoxy, Orthodox Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, members of the major branches of Christianity with other adherents as Lutheranism and Anglicans, and others often make the Sign of the Cross upon themselves. This was already a common Christian practice in the time of Tertullian. The Feast of the Cross is an important Christian feast. One of the twelve Great Feasts in Eastern Orthodoxy, Orthodox Catholic is the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14, which commemorates the consecration of the basilica on the Holy Sepulchre, site where the True Cross, original cross of Jesus was reportedly discovered in 326 by Helena of Constantinople, mother of Constantine the Great. The Catholic Church celebrates the feast on the same day and under the same name (''In Exaltatione Sanctae Crucis''), though in English it has been called the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Anglican bishops place a cross [+] before their name when signature, signing a document. The dagger (typography), dagger symbol (†) placed after the name of a dead person (often with the date of death) is sometimes taken to be a Christian cross. In many Christian traditions, such as the Methodist Churches, the altar cross sits atop or is suspended above the Altar#In Western Christian churches, altar table and is a focal point of the chancel. In many Baptist churches, a large cross hangs above the baptistry.

Rejection among various religious groups

Although Christians accepted that the cross was the gallows on which Jesus died, they had already begun in the 2nd century to use it as a Christian symbol. During the first three centuries of the Christian era the cross was "a symbol of minor importance" when compared to the prominence given to it later, but by the second century it was closely associated with Christians, to the point where Christians were mocked as "adorers of the gibbet" (''crucis religiosi''), an accusation countered by Tertullian. and it was already a tradition for Christians to trace repeatedly on their foreheads the sign of the cross. Martin Luther at the time of the Reformation retained the cross and
crucifix A crucifix (from Latin ''cruci fixus'' meaning "(one) fixed to a cross") is an image of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus on the Christian cross, cross, as distinct from a bare cross. The representation of Jesus himself on the cross is referred to in ...

in the Lutheranism, Lutheran Church, which remains an important feature of Lutheran devotion and worship today. Luther wrote: ''Crux sola est nostra theologia'', "The cross alone is our theology." On the other hand, the Beeldenstorm, Great Iconoclasm was a wave of rejecting sacred images among Calvinists of the 16th century. Some localities (such as England) included polemics against using the cross in worship. For example, during the 16th century, a minority of theologians in the Anglican and Reformed traditions Nicholas Ridley (martyr), Nicholas Ridley, James Calfhill, and Theodore Beza, rejected practices that they described as cross worship. Considering it a form of idolatry, there was a dispute in 16th century England over the baptismal use of the sign of the cross and even the public use of crosses. There were more active reactions to religious items that were thought as 'relics of Papacy', as happened for example in September 1641, when Sir Robert Harley (1579–1656), Robert Harley pulled down and destroyed the cross at Wigmore. Writers during the 19th century indicating a Pagan origin of the cross included Henry Dana Ward, Mourant Brock, and John Denham Parsons. David Williams, writing of medieval images of monsters, says: "The disembodied phallus is also formed into a cross, which, before it became for Christianity the symbol of salvation, was a pagan symbol of fertility." The study, ''Gods, Heroes & Kings: The Battle for Mythic Britain'' states: "Before the fourth century CE, the cross was not widely embraced as a sign of Christianity, symbolizing as it did the gallows of a criminal." This reaction in the Anglican and other Reformed Churches was short-lived and the cross became ubiquitous in these Christian traditions. Jehovah's Witnesses do not use the symbol of the cross in their worship, which they believe constitutes idolatry. They believe that Jesus died on a single upright torture stake rather than a two-beam cross, arguing that the Greek term ''stauros'' indicated a single upright pole. Although early Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, Watch Tower Society publications associated with the Bible Student movement taught that Christ was executed on a cross, it no longer appeared on Watch Tower Society publications after the name ''Jehovah's witnesses'' was adopted in 1931, and use of the cross was officially abandoned in 1936. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that Jesus died on a cross; however, their prophet Gordon B. Hinckley stated that "for us the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ." When asked what was the symbol of his religion, Hinckley replied "the lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship." Prophet Howard W. Hunter encouraged Latter-day Saints "to look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of your membership." Images of LDS temples and the Angel Moroni (who is found in statue on most temples) are commonly used to Symbolism in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, symbolize the faith of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In April 2020, under President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson, the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Church formally adopted an image inspired by Christus (statue), Thorvaldsen's Christus statue underlain with the Church's name as an official symbol of the faith.

Notable individual crosses

File:Ruthwell 002.jpg, The Ruthwell Cross, a stone Anglo-Saxon cross located in Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire (8th century) File:VA23Oct10 101-crop-horz.jpg, Easby Cross (9th century) File:Mainistir Bhuithe cross Muiredach.jpg, Muiredach's High Cross (10th century) File:Oviedo croix Victoire.jpg, Victory Cross, Cathedral of San Salvador of Oviedo (10th century) File:Concepción Santa Cruz 45.jpg, Holly Cross with which the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife was founded in Spain (1496). File:A Commonwealth Cross of Sacrifice or War Cross.jpg, Cross of Sacrifice or War Cross, from a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery (1920) File:Coventry Cathedral burnt cross.jpg, A wooden cross at Coventry Cathedral, constructed of the remnants of beams found after the Coventry Blitz File:SPA-2014-San Lorenzo de El Escorial-Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caídos).jpg, Cross in Valle de los Caídos near Madrid, the highest cross in the world (Juan de Ávalos 1959) File:Millennium Cross in Skopje (1).jpg, The Millennium Cross in Skopje, North Macedonia, one of the biggest crosses in the world (2000) File:World Trade Center Cross.jpg, The World Trade Center Cross rises from the World Trade Center wreckage. File:Grabkreuz mit Nägeln.jpg, Grave cross with Nail (fastener), nails - Evros (regional unit), Evros / Greece File:Anoniem, Reliekkruis van het Heilige Kruis (ca. 1228 - 1250), TO 25, KBS-FRB (2).jpg File:Se piovesse il tuo nome (Catedral de Almudena), grattage dell'artista Giovanni Guida.jpg, ''Latin cross'' by Giovanni Guida

See also



* Philip Schaff, ''History of the Christian Church'', ch. 6,
Christian Art: § 77. The Cross and the Crucifix
(1910 ed. [1858–1890]) *William Wood Seymour
''The Cross in Tradition, History and Art''

External links

Encyclopaedia Britannica article
''Cross: religious symbol'', with a clearer systematic presentation and chronology of Christian and pre-Christian use

* [https://web.archive.org/web/20040407014344/http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761570847/Cross.html#s4 MSN Encarta]( 2009-10-31), "Cross"
An Explanation of the Russian Orthodox Three-Bar Cross

Variations of Crosses - Images and Meanings
{{DEFAULTSORT:Christian Cross Christian crosses, Christian symbols, Cross Cross symbols Christian behaviour and experience