Christian cross variants

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"✝" (Unicode character "Latin cross") redirects here. For the typographical symbol, see dagger (typography).
7th-century Byzantine solidus, showing Leontius holding a globus cruciger, with a stepped cross on the obverse side.
Double-barred cross symbol as used in a 9th-century Byzantine seal
11th-century Christ Pantokrator with a cross-shaped halo.

The Christian cross symbol is often shown in different shapes and sizes, in many different styles. It may be used in personal jewelry, or used on top of church buildings. It is shown both empty and in crucifix form, that is, with a figure of Christ, often referred to as the corpus (Latin for "body"), affixed to it.

The Greek cross is the most common Christian forms, the cross with arms of equal length, in common use by the 4th century. The standard Latin cross (with an elongated descending arm) is encoded at U+271D latin cross.

Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran depictions of the cross are often crucifixes, in order to emphasize that it is Jesus that is important, rather than the cross in isolation. Large crucifixes are a prominent feature of some Lutheran churches, as illustrated in the article Rood. However, some other Protestant traditions depict the cross without the corpus, interpreting this form as an indication of belief in the resurrection rather than as representing the interval between the death and the resurrection of Jesus.

Crosses are a prominent feature of Christian cemeteries, either carved on gravestones or as sculpted stelas. Because of this, planting small crosses is sometimes used in countries of Christian culture to mark the site of fatal accidents, or to protest alleged deaths.

In Catholic countries, crosses are often erected on the peaks of prominent mountains, such as the Zugspitze or Mount Royal, so as to be visible over the entire surrounding area.

List of variants[edit]

Basic forms[edit]

Basic variants, or early variants widespread since antiquity.

Image Name Description
Greek cross.svg Greek cross With arms of equal length. One of the most common Christian forms, in common use by the 4th century.
Christian cross.svg Latin cross Cross with a longer descending arm. Along with the Greek cross, it is the most common form. It represents the cross of Jesus' crucifixion.
Patriarchal or Archbishop Cross.svg Patriarchal cross (three-bar cross) Also called an archiepiscopal cross or a crux gemina. A double cross, with the two crossbars near the top. The upper one is shorter, representing the plaque nailed to Jesus' cross. Similar to the Cross of Lorraine, though in the original version of the latter, the bottom arm is lower. The Eastern Orthodox cross adds a slanted bar near the foot.
Heraldic Globus cruciger.svg Globus cruciger Globe cross. An orb surmounted by a cross; used in royal regalia.
Cross of the pope.svg Papal cross A cross with three bars near the top. The bar are of unequal length, each one shorter than the one below.
Coa Illustration Cross Staurogram.svg Monogrammatic Cross, or Staurogram or Tau-Rho Cross The earlier visual image of the cross, already present in New Testament manuscripts as P66, P45 and P75.[1]
Calvary cross.svg Stepped cross A cross resting on a base with three steps, also called a graded or a Calvary cross.
Jerusalem cross.svg Jerusalem Cross Also known as the Crusader's Cross. A large cross with a smaller cross in each of its angles. It was used as a symbol of the kingdom of Jerusalem

Association with saints[edit]

Image Name Description
Peter's Cross.svg Cross of St. Peter A cross with the crossbeam placed near the foot, that is associated with Saint Peter because of the tradition that he was crucified head down.
Te cross.svg Tau cross (Anthony's cross) A T-shaped cross. Also called the Saint Anthony's cross and crux commissa.
Saint Andrew's cross.svg Saltire or crux decussata An X-shaped cross associated with St. Andrew, patron of Scotland, and so a national symbol of that country. The shape is that of the cross on which Saint Andrew is said to have been martyred. Also known as St. Andrew's Cross or Andrew Cross.

Confessional or regional variants[edit]

Further information: Crosses in heraldry
Image Name Description
Armenian cross2.jpg Armenian cross Symbol of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and a typical feature of khachkars. Also known as the "Blooming Cross" owing to the trefoil emblems at the ends of each branch.
Ascension of the Cross bas-relief, Jvari Monastery.jpg Bolnisi cross Ancient Georgian cross and national symbol from the 5th century AD.
Caucasian Albanian Cross.svg Caucasian Albanian cross Ancient Caucasian Albanian cross and national symbol from the 4th century AD.
Croix copte égyptienne.svg Coptic ankh Shaped like the letter T surmounted by an oval or circle. Originally the Egyptian symbol for "life", it was adopted by the Copts (Egyptian Christians). Also called a crux ansata, meaning "cross with a handle".
Armenian Catholicossate of Cilicia - khatchkar.jpg Armenian cross-stone (Khachkar) A khachkar (cross-stone) is a popular symbol of Armenians.
Cantercross.svg Canterbury cross A cross with four arms of equal length which widen to a hammer shape at the outside ends. Each arm has a triangular panel inscribed in a triquetra (three-cornered knot) pattern. There is a small square panel in the center of the cross. A symbol of the Anglican and Episcopal Churches.
Monasterboice 12.jpg Celtic Cross Essentially a Latin cross, with a circle enclosing the intersection of the upright and crossbar, as in the standing High crosses.
Coptic-Cross.svg Coptic cross The original Coptic cross has its origin in the Coptic ankh.
Coptic cross.svg New Coptic Cross This new Coptic Cross is the cross currently used by the Coptic Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. It evolved from the older Coptic Crosses depicted above. A gallery of Coptic Crosses can be found here.
SaintNinoCross.jpg Grapevine cross Also known as the cross of Saint Nino of Cappadocia, who Christianised Georgia.
Original Coptic cross.svg Gnostic cross Cross used by the early Gnostic sects.
Cathar cross.svg Occitan cross Based on the counts of Toulouse's traditional coat of arms, it soon became the symbol of Occitania as a whole.
RosecrossPlexi.jpg Rose Cross A cross with a rose blooming at the center. The central symbol to all groups embracing the Esoteric Christian philosophy of the Rosicrucians.
Cross of the Russian Orthodox Church 01.svg Russian Orthodox cross (See Suppedaneum cross, below).
Serbian Cross1.svg Serbian cross A Greek cross with a Cyrillic letter S in each of its angles. A national symbol of Serbia and symbol of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Cross of the Russian Orthodox Church 01.svg Suppedaneum cross Also known as Russian cross, Slavic or Slavonic cross. A three-barred cross in which the short top bar represents the inscription over Jesus' head, and the lowest (usually slanting) short bar, placed near the foot, represents his footrest (in Latin, suppedaneum). This cross existed in a slightly different form (with the bottom crossbeam pointing upwards) in Byzantium, and it was changed and adopted by the Russian Orthodox Church and especially popularized in the East Slavic countries.
Mar Thoma Sliva.jpg Saint Thomas Cross The ancient cross used by Saint Thomas Christians (also known as Syrian Christians or Nasrani) in Kerala, India.[2]
Macedonian cross.svg Macedonian cross, also known as Veljusa Cross (Вељушки крст). Macedonian Christian symbol, symbol of the Macedonian Orthodox Church.
Anuradhapura Cross-Vector.svg Anuradhapura cross A symbol of Christianity in Sri Lanka.

Modern innovations[edit]

Image Name Description
Marian Cross.svg Marian Cross A term invented to refer to Pope John Paul II's combination of a Latin cross and the letter M, representing the Mary present on Calvary.
Christian Universalist symbol.svg Off Center Cross of Christian Universalism. The off-center cross was invented in late April, 1946, in a hotel room in Akron, Ohio, during the Universalist General Assembly, where a number of Universalist ministers pooled their ideas.[3]

Types of artefacts[edit]

Image Name Description
Small crucifix.jpg Crucifix A cross with a representation of Jesus' body hanging from it. It is primarily used in Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox churches (where the figure is painted), and it emphasizes Christ's sacrifice— his death by crucifixion.
Echmiatsin altair.jpg Altar cross A cross on a flat base to rest upon the altar of a church. The earliest known representation of an altar cross appears in a miniature in a 9th-century manuscript. By the 10th century such crosses were in common use, but the earliest extant altar cross is a 12th-century one in the Great Lavra on Mt. Athos. Mass in the Roman Rite requires the presence of a cross (more exactly, a crucifix) "on or close to" the altar.[4] Accordingly, the required cross may rest on the reredos rather than on the altar, or it may be on the wall behind the altar or be suspended above the altar.
AbunaPaulos.jpg Blessing cross Used by priests of the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches to bestow blessings upon the faithful.
Kirkkoliput.jpg Processional cross Used to lead religious processions; sometimes, after the procession it is placed behind the altar to serve as an altar cross.
Lotharkreuz, Kaiserseite, Aachener Dom, Juni 2008.jpg Crux gemmata A cross inlaid with gems. Denotes a glorification of the cross, this form was inspired by the cult of the cross that arose after Saint Helena's discovery of the True Cross in Jerusalem in 327.
Thure Annerstedt.JPG Pectoral cross A large cross worn in front of the chest (in Latin, pectus) by some clergy.
Gotland-Stenkumla-Kirche 09.jpg Rood Large crucifix high in a church; most medieval Western churches had one, often with figures of the Virgin Mary and John the Evangelist alongside, and often mounted on a rood screen

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hutado, Larry (2006). "The staurogram in early Christian manuscripts: the earliest visual reference to the crucified Jesus?". In Kraus, Thomas. New Testament Manuscripts. Leiden: Brill. pp. 207–26. ISBN 978-90-04-14945-8. 
  2. ^ "NSC NETWORK – Analogical review on Saint Thomas Cross- The symbol of Nasranis-Interpretation of the Inscriptions". Nasrani.net. Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  3. ^ accessed on 2012-04-21
  4. ^ "General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 117" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-12-10.