A crucifix (from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...
''cruci fixus'' meaning "(one) fixed to a cross") is an image of
Jesus Jesus; he, יֵשׁוּעַ, '' Yēšū́aʿ''; ar, عيسى, ʿĪsā ( 4 BC AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunc ...
on the
cross A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two intersecting lines or bars, usually perpendicular to each other. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally. A cross of oblique lines, in the shape of the Latin letter X, is also termed ...

, as distinct from a bare cross. The representation of Jesus himself on the cross is referred to in English as the ''corpus'' (Latin for "body"). The crucifix is a principal symbol for many groups of
Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to 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 Jes ...
, and one of the most common forms of the Crucifixion in the arts. It is especially important in the
Latin Rite Latin liturgical rites, or Western liturgical rites, are Catholic rites of public worship employed by the Latin Church , native_name_lang = la , image = San Giovanni in Laterano - Rome.jpg , imagewidth = 250px , ...
of the
Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide . As the world's old ...
, but is also used in the
Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a Communion ( ...
, most Oriental Orthodox Churches (except the Armenian & Syriac Church), and the
Eastern Catholic Churches The Eastern Catholic Churches or Oriental Catholic Churches, also called the Eastern-rite Catholic Churches, Eastern Rite Catholicism, or simply the Eastern Churches and in some historical cases referred to as ''Uniates'', are twenty-three East ...
, as well as by the
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Martin Luther, a 16th-century German Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Pro ...
, Moravian and
Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation. Adherents of Anglicanism are called ''Anglicans''; th ...
Churches. The symbol is less common in churches of other
Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of the Catholic Church, errors in the Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholi ...
denominations, and in the
Assyrian Church of the East The Assyrian Church of the East ( syc, ܥܕܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ ܕܐܬܘܖ̈ܝܐ, ʿĒḏtā ḏ-Maḏnḥā ḏ-ʾĀṯūrāyē, ar, كنيسة المشرق الآشورية), officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ( syc ...
and Armenian Apostolic Church, which prefer to use a cross without the figure of Jesus (the ''corpus''). The crucifix emphasizes Jesus' sacrifice—his death by
crucifixion Crucifixion is a method of punishment or capital punishment in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden beam and left to hang perhaps for several days, until eventual death from exhaustion and asphyxiation. It was used as a punishment ...
, which Christians believe brought about the redemption of mankind. Most crucifixes portray Jesus on a Latin cross, rather than any other shape, such as a Cross of Tau, Tau cross or a Coptic cross. Western crucifixes usually have a three-dimensional ''corpus'', but in Eastern Orthodoxy Jesus' body is normally painted on the cross, or in low relief. Strictly speaking, to be a crucifix, the cross must be three-dimensional, but this distinction is not always observed. An entire painting of the Crucifixion of Jesus including a landscape background and other figures is not a crucifix either. Large crucifixes high across the central axis of a church are known by the Old English term rood. By the late Middle Ages these were a near-universal feature of Western churches, but are now very rare. Modern Roman Catholic churches and many Lutheran churches often have a crucifix above the altar on the wall; for the celebration of Mass (liturgy), Mass, the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church requires that "on or close to the altar there is to be a cross with a figure of Christ crucified".


The standard, four-pointed Latin crucifix consists of an upright post or ''stipes'' and a single crosspiece to which the sufferer's arms were nailed. There may also be a short projecting Titulus (inscription), nameplate, showing the letters INRI (Greek: INBI). The Russian Orthodox crucifix usually has an additional third crossbar, to which the feet are nailed, and which is angled upward toward the penitent thief Saint Dismas (to the viewer's left) and downward toward the impenitent thief Gestas (to the viewer's right). The corpus of Eastern crucifixes is normally a two-dimensional or low relief icon that shows Jesus as already dead, his face peaceful and somber. They are rarely three-dimensional figures as in the Western tradition, although these may be found where Western influences are strong, but are more typically icons painted on a piece of wood shaped to include the double-barred cross and perhaps the edge of Christ's hips and halo (religious iconography), halo, and no background. More sculptural small crucifixes in metal relief are also used in Orthodoxy (see gallery examples), including as pectoral crosses and blessing crosses. Western crucifixes may show Christ dead or alive, the presence of the spear wound in his ribs traditionally indicating that he is dead. In either case his face very often shows his suffering. In Orthodoxy he has normally been shown as dead since around the end of the period of Byzantine Iconoclasm. Eastern crucifixes have Jesus' two feet nailed side by side, rather than crossed one above the other, as Western crucifixes have shown them since around the 13th century. The crown of thorns is also generally absent in Eastern crucifixes, since the emphasis is not on Christ's suffering, but on his triumph over sin and death. The "S"-shaped position of Jesus' body on the cross is a Byzantine art, Byzantine innovation of the late 10th century, though also found in the German Gero Cross of the same date. Probably more from Byzantine influence, it spread elsewhere in the West, especially to Italy, by the Romanesque art, Romanesque period, though it was more usual in painting than sculpted crucifixes. It's in Italy that the emphasis was put on Jesus' suffering and realistic details, during a process of general humanization of Christ favored by the Franciscan, Franciscan order. During the 13th century the suffering Italian model (''Christus patiens'') triumphed over the traditional Byzantine one (''Christus gloriosus'') anywhere in Europe also due to the works of artists such as Giunta Pisano and Cimabue. Since the Renaissance the "S"-shape is generally much less pronounced. Eastern Christian blessing crosses will often have the Crucifixion depicted on one side, and the Resurrection of Jesus, Resurrection on the other, illustrating the understanding of Orthodox theology that the Crucifixion and Resurrection are two intimately related aspects of the same act of salvation. Another, symbolic, depiction shows a triumphant Christ ( la, Christus triumphans), clothed in robes, rather than stripped as for His execution, with arms raised, appearing to rise up from the cross, sometimes accompanied by "rays of light", or an Halo (religious iconography), aureole encircling His Body. He may be robed as a prophet, crown (headgear), crowned as a king, and vested in a Stole (vestment), stole as Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament#High Priest .7C Chief Priest, Great High Priest. On some crucifixes a skull and crossbones are shown below the corpus, referring to Golgotha (Calvary), the site at which Jesus was crucified, which the Gospels say means in Hebrew "the place of the skull." Medieval tradition held that it was the burial-place of Adam and Eve, and that the cross of Christ was raised directly over Adam's skull, so many crucifixes manufactured in Catholic countries still show the skull and crossbones below the corpus. Very large crucifixes have been built, the largest being the Cross in the Woods in Michigan, with a high statue.


In the early Church, many Christians hung a
cross A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two intersecting lines or bars, usually perpendicular to each other. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally. A cross of oblique lines, in the shape of the Latin letter X, is also termed ...

on the eastern wall of their house in order to indicate the direction of prayer, eastward direction of prayer. Prayer in front of a crucifix, which is seen as a Sacramentals, sacramental, is often part of devotion for Christians, especially those worshipping in a church, also privately. The person may sit, stand, or kneel in front of the crucifix, sometimes looking at it in contemplation, or merely in front of it with head bowed or eyes closed. During the Middle Ages small crucifixes, generally hung on a wall, became normal in the personal cells or living quarters first of monks, then all clergy, followed by the homes of the laity, spreading down from the top of society as these became cheap enough for the average person to afford. Most towns had a large crucifix erected as a monument, or some other shrine at the crossroads of the town. Building on the ancient custom, many Catholics, Lutherans and Anglicans hang a crucifix inside their homes and also use the crucifix as a focal point of a home altar. The wealthy erected proprietary chapels as they could afford to do this. Catholic (both Eastern Catholicism, Eastern and Latin Church, Western), Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravian, Anglican and Lutheran Christians generally use the crucifix in public religious services. They believe use of the crucifix is in keeping with the statement by Saint Paul in Scripture, "we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God". In the West altar crosses and processional crosses began to be crucifixes in the 11th century, which became general around the 14th century, as they became cheaper. The Roman Rite requires that "either on the altar or near it, there is to be a cross, with the figure of Christ crucified upon it, a cross clearly visible to the assembled people. It is desirable that such a cross should remain near the altar even outside of liturgical celebrations, so as to call to mind for the faithful the saving Passion of Jesus, Passion of the Lord." The requirement of the altar cross was also mentioned in pre-1970 editions of the Roman Missal, though not in the original 1570 Roman Missal of Pope Pius V. The Rite of Funerals says that the Gospel Book, the Bible, or a cross (which will generally be in crucifix form) may be placed on the coffin for a Requiem Mass, but a second standing cross is not to be placed near the coffin if the altar cross can be easily seen from the body of the church. Eastern Christian liturgical processions called crucessions include a cross or crucifix at their head. In the
Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a Communion ( ...
, the crucifix is often placed above the iconostasis in the church. In the Russian Orthodox Church a large crucifix ("Golgotha") is placed behind the Holy Table (altar). During Matins of Good Friday, a large crucifix is taken in procession to the centre of the church, where it is venerated by the faithful. Sometimes the ''soma'' (corpus) is removable and is taken off the crucifix at Vespers that evening during the Gospel lesson describing the Descent from the Cross. The empty cross may then remain in the centre of the church until the Paschal vigil (local practices vary). The blessing cross which the priest uses to bless the faithful at the benediction, dismissal will often have the crucifix on one side and an icon of the Resurrection of Jesus on the other, the side with the Resurrection being used on Sundays and during Paschaltide, and the crucifix on other days. Exorcist Gabriele Amorth has stated that the crucifix is one of the most effective means of averting or opposing demons. In folklore, it is believed to ward off vampires, incubi, succubi, and other evils. Modern Iconoclasm, iconoclasts have used an inverted (upside-down) crucifix when showing disdain for Jesus Christ or the Catholic Church which believes in Divinity of Jesus, his divinity. According to Christian tradition, Saint Peter was martyred by being Cross of St. Peter, crucified upside-down.


Protestant Reformation

In the Moravian Church, Nicolaus Zinzendorf had an experience in which he believed he encountered Jesus. Seeing a painting of a crucifix, Zinzendorf fell on his knees vowing to glorify Jesus after contemplating on the Five Holy Wounds, wounds of Christ and an inscription that stated "This is what I have done for you, what will you do for me?” The Lutheran Churches retained the use of the crucifix, "justifying "their continued use of medieval crucifixes with the same arguments employed since the Middle Ages, as is evident from the example of the altar of the Holy Cross in the Cistercian church of Doberan." Martin Luther did not object to them, and this was among his differences with Andreas Karlstadt as early as 1525. At the time of the Protestant Reformation, Reformation, Luther retained the crucifix in the Lutheran Church and they remain the center of worship in Lutheran parishes across Europe. In the United States, however, Lutheranism came under the influence of Calvinism, and the plain cross came to be used in many churches. In contrast to the practice of the Moravian Church and Lutheran Churches, the early Reformed Churches rejected the use of the crucifix, and indeed the unadorned cross, along with other traditional religious imagery, as idolatrous. John Calvin, Calvin, considered to be the father of the Reformed Church, was violently opposed to both cross and crucifix. In England, the Royal Chapels of Elizabeth I were most unusual among local churches in retaining crucifixes, following the Queen's conservative tastes. These disappeared under her successor, James I, and their brief re-appearance in the early 1620s when James' heir was seeking a Spanish marriage was the subject of rumour and close observation by both Catholics and Protestants; when the match fell through they disappeared.


In 2005, a mother accused her daughter's school in Derby, England, of discriminating against Christians after the teenager was suspended for refusing to take off a crucifix necklace. A British prison ordered a multi-faith chapel to remove all crucifixes "in case it offends Muslims." In 2008 in Spain, a local judge ordered crucifixes removed from public schools to settle a decades-old dispute over whether crucifixes should be displayed in public buildings in a non-confessional state. On 18 March 2011, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in the ''Lautsi v. Italy'' case, that the requirement in Italian law that crucifixes be displayed in classrooms of state schools does not violate the European Convention on Human Rights. Crucifixes are common in most other Italian official buildings, including law court, courts of law. On 24 March 2011, the Constitutional Court of Peru ruled that the presence of crucifixes in courts of law does not violate the secular nature of the state.Peru court upholds presence of crucifix in public places


Image:Small crucifix.jpg, A handheld crucifix Image:Baux-de-provence-eglise-st-vincent-crucifix.jpg, A crucifix in a church, with votive candles. File:Orth Kreuz.gif, Russian Orthodox crucifix, brass File:Распятие 01.jpg, Russian Orthodox crucifix, 19th - early 20th century File:Crucifixion icon orthodox cathedral vilnius.JPG, Orthodox crucifix in Vilnius File:Crucifix, ca. 1795-1862, 02.257.2427.jpg, ''Crucifix'', ca. 1795–1862, Brooklyn Museum File:Immeldorf Kirche 2467.jpg, Lutheran crucifix with the portrait of Luther at Saint George's church in Immeldorf, Lichtenau, Bavaria, Lichtenau File:Gereja Santa, Jakarta.jpg, A large crucifix at Gereja Santa, Jakarta, Indonesia File:S95CrucifixCourtroomNuremberg.jpg, A post–World War II crucifix in a courtroom in Nuremberg, Germany File:Garden of the Anglican Shrine - geograph.org.uk - 791188.jpg, A crucifix overlooks a fountain at the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham File:Pulpit of Canterbury Cathedral 08.JPG, Pulpit crucifix at the Canterbury Cathedral File:Christ Church Cathedral altar.jpg, Altar of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

See also

*Cloisters Cross *Christian symbolism *Cross necklace *Crucifer *Crucifix Decrees * Crucifixion in the arts *Feast of the Cross *Holy Face of Lucca *Jesus, King of the Jews *Master of the Blue Crucifixes *Papal ferula *Rood *Rosary


External links

Archæology of the Cross and Crucifix
{{Authority control Christian iconography Iconography of Jesus Sacramentals Christian religious objects Crosses by form Christian symbols Statues of Jesus, Christian terminology Crucifixion of Jesus in art, Anglican liturgy Lutheran liturgy and worship Objects believed to protect from evil Crucifixes,