Cross of St. Peter

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A Cross of Peter is an inverted Latin cross
"Peter cross" redirects here. For the British illustrator, see Peter Cross.
"Inverted cross" redirects here. For the gymnastics move, see Rings (gymnastics)

The Cross of St. Peter or Petrine Cross is an inverted Latin cross traditionally used as a Christian symbol, but in recent times also used as an anti-Christian symbol (a meaning different from that of traditional Christian symbolism).

In Christianity[edit]

Peter's Cross on a Lutheran church

The origin of the symbol comes from the Catholic tradition that Simon Peter was crucified upside down, as told by Origen of Alexandria. The tradition first appears in the "Martyrdom of Peter", a fragmented text found in, but possibly predating, the apocryphal Acts of Peter, which was written no later than 200 A.D. It is believed that Peter requested this form of crucifixion as he felt he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner that Jesus died. As such, some Catholics use this cross as a symbol of humility and unworthiness in comparison to Jesus.

According to Roman Catholicism, the pope is Peter's successor as Bishop of Rome. Therefore the Papacy is often represented by symbols that are also used to represent Peter — one example being the Keys of Heaven, another the Petrine Cross.

Anti-Christian imagery[edit]

The Cross of St. Peter has sometimes become associated with anti-religious imagery, as it is used to represent the opposite of Christianity by inverting its primary symbol, the Latin Cross. As a result, the symbol has become popular within anti-religion groups.[1] It has appeared in films such as The Masque of the Red Death, Rosemary's Baby, Exorcist: The Beginning, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Ghost, The Devil Inside, Paranormal Activity, Constantine, Devil, Phoonk, The Omen, The Conjuring, Omen, and Gummo. It is also a recurring motif in punk rock and heavy metal, where it is embraced as symbol of anti-authoritarianism and defiance (but not necessarily Anti-Christian), and is featured in the iconography of the band Bad Religion, as well as in the logo of punk-themed fashion label Cheap Monday and throughout the rock opera, American Idiot (musical), which is based on the music of Green Day. The hip-hop collective, Odd Future, also utilizes the inverted cross. Some black metal bands also use the Cross of St. Peter in their name designs.


  1. ^ Ogechukwu, Nwaocha (17 July 2010). The Secret Behind the Cross and Crucifix. Strategic Book Publishing. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-60860-850-8. 

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