The Jerusalem cross, also known as Crusaders' cross or the "Five-fold Cross", is a heraldic cross or Christian symbol consisting of a large cross potent surrounded by four smaller Greek crosses, one in each quadrant. It is not to be confused with the Lorraine cross, which has also been called the "Jerusalem cross".
There are variants to the design, also known as "Jerusalem cross", with either the four crosslets also in the form of Crosses potent, or conversely with the central cross also in the form of a Greek cross.
Origins and classical heraldry
The design originates with the coat of arms worn by Godfrey of Bouillon during the First Crusade, and it remained in use as the armorial of the Kingdom of Jerusalem throughout its duration (1099–1291).
The symbolism of the five-fold cross is variously given as the Five Wounds of Christ, Christ and the four quarters of the world, Christ and the four evangelists. The "false blazonry" used for the Kingdom of Jerusalem ("metal upon metal", i.e. or (gold) on argent (silver)) was connected to Psalms 68:13, which mentions a "dove covered in silver, and her feathers with yellow gold". The symbolism of five crosses representing the Five Wounds is first recorded earlier in the 11th century, with the consecration of the St Brelade's Church under the patronage of Robert of Normandy (before 1035); the crosses are incised in the church's altar stone.
The Latin Empire of 1204–1261 used an extended variant of the Jerusalem cross, where each of the four crosslets was itself surrounded by four smaller crosslets (a "Jerusalem cross of Jerusalem crosses").
In late medieval heraldry, after the failure of the Crusades, the Crusader's cross was used for various Crusader states. The 14th-century Book of All Kingdoms uses it as the flag of Sebasteia. At about the same time, the Pizzigano chart uses it as the flag of Tbilisi (based on the latter example, the Crusader's cross was adopted as the flag of Georgia in 2004).
The restored papal Order of the Holy Sepulchre (1847) uses the Jerusalem cross as its emblem. It is also used by the Custodian of the Holy Land, head of the Franciscan friars who serve at the holy Christian sites in Jerusalem.
In the early 20th century, the Jerusalem cross also came to be used as a symbol of world evangelisation in Protestantism. A derived design known as the "Episcopal Church Service Cross" was first used during World War I by the Anglican Episcopal Church in the United States. The Jerusalem cross was chosen as the emblem of the Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag (German Evangelical Church Congress) in the 1950s, since the 1960s shown in a simplified form where the central Cross potent is replaced by a simple Greek cross.
The Unicode character set has a character ☩, U+2629 CROSS OF JERUSALEM in the Miscellaneous Symbols table. However, the glyph associated with that character according to the official Unicode character sheet is shown as a simple cross potent, and not a Jerusalem cross.
- William Woo Seymour, The Cross in Tradition, History and Art, 1898, p. 364
- William Woo Seymour, The Cross in Tradition, History and Art, 1898, p. 356
- The design with the crosslets as crosses potent is medieval, e.g. found in 13th-century stonework in the Nor Varagavank monastery, Armenia (image); another example is found in the Norman church at Bozeat, Northamptonshire, England (image).
- this is apparently reported in an 1829 vexillological publication (Собрание штандартов, флагов и вымпелов, употребляемых в Российской империи ("Collection of banners, flags and pennants, used in the Russian Empire", St. Petersburg, 1829, reprinted 1833 (facsimile); the historicity of this is doubtful, c.f. Russian Navy: early flags (crwflags.com).
- [unreliable source?]
- Hunt Janin , Four Paths to Jerusalem: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Secular Pilgrimages, 1000 BCE to 2001 CE, McFarland, 2002, p. 169.
- A Prayer Book for the Armed Services: For Chaplains and Those in Service, Church Publishing, Inc., 2008, p. 10.
- the standard version is depicted in this 1961 stamp, the simplified version in a 1963 stamp.
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