Talk:Sign of the cross

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The gesture[edit]

Two fingers[edit]

Which two fingers were used in Russia? Index and thumb? Or index and middle while thumb is folded over the palm?


Index and middle - look at Old Believers' ways today. Rdmauriello 02:17, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

Dixit position, not the sign of the cross[edit]

The two fingers are not raised in blessing at all: this is from the Roman symbol for "I speak," (dixit). People who want to interpret the visual arts need to take an art history course or three first.198.176.188.201 (talk) 17:59, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

Illustration?[edit]

Could we have an illustration of the gesture proceedure?

  • & a list of films in which the gesture is made? Dogru144 17:02, 8 April 2007 (UTC)


An illustration would be OK (maybe I'll try to make one with clergy/monks), but the list is irrelevant to both the article and the films. adriatikus | 17:43, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

Gesture for Latin Rite?[edit]

It is said: "As one moves through the Sign, one recites, at the forehead, "Lord "; at the stomach, "Jesus Christ", on the right shoulder, "Son of God"; and on the left shoulder, "have mercy on us" followed by a bow(to the ground during great lent). Joining two fingers together-the index and the middle finger-and extending them, with the middle finger slightly bent, represents the two natures of Christ: His Divinity and His Humanity." Even though the definition is correct for eastern tradition, I know that people in the Latin Rite do it rather differently. First, it's not "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, and Have Mercy on Us", but "In the name of the father, and the son, and the holy spirit, Amen". No bow after crossing, and use all five fingers instead of joining the two fingers. Olentz 17:24, 25 May 2007 (UTC) The Latin Rites of the west are under anathema.OldFaith123 2:24PM, 30, May 2007 (AKST)

It certainly does turn it into a symbol of death by focusing less on the Trinity and more on the wounds of the crucifixion. Rather like Catholicism in generally though, too much emphasis on the Crucifixion (a past event, although gravely important) and suffering, and little at all on Christian joy. Why does it seem to me that Catholicism is a religion of death, and ultimately is the cause of the "Culture of Death" that they always talk about?

Sectarian variations of the cross gesture[edit]

Disputed[edit]

I can't find anywhere online (granted, it's at a late hour and I'm not looking quite as hard as I might at an earlier time) that substantiates the article's claim as to why Western and Eastern Christians make the Sign in different directions (left-right vs right-left). So I decided to be cautious and put up a dubious tag. -Penta 07:07, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

It isn't correct at all. The difference is a mix-up that comes from mirroring the bishop or priest when he blesses the congregation. It became western practice over time, but as I was taught in seminary, right-to-left was still common up until about 200-years ago.

-User:rdmauriello 17:29, 22 May 2006 (EDT)

If you look at the online Catholic Encyclopedia (the link is already attached to this item), it says the following:

At this period the manner of making it in the West seems to have been identical with that followed at present in the East, i.e. only three fingers were used, and the hand traveled from the right shoulder to the left. The point, it must be confessed, is not entirely clear and Thalhofer (Liturgik, I, 633) inclines to the opinion that in the passages of Belethus (xxxix), Sicardus (III, iv), Innocent III (De myst. Alt., II, xlvi), and Durandus (V, ii, 13), which are usually appealed to in proof of this, these authors have in mind the small cross made upon the forehead or external objects, in which the hand moves naturally from right to left, and not the big cross made from shoulder to shoulder. Still, a rubric in a manuscript copy of the York Missal clearly requires the priest when signing himself with the paten to touch the left shoulder after the right. Moreover it is at least clear from many pictures and sculptures that in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the Greek practice of extending only three fingers was adhered to by many Latin Christians. Thus the compiler of the Ancren Riwle (about 1200) directs his nuns at "Deus in adjutorium" to make a little cross from above the forehead down to the breast with three fingers". However there can be little doubt that long before the close of the Middle Ages the large sign of the cross was more commonly made in the West with the open hand and that the bar of the cross was traced from left to right. In the "Myroure of our Ladye" (p. 80) the Bridgettine Nuns of Sion have a mystical reason given to them for the practice: "And then ye bless you with the sygne of the holy crosse, to chase away the fiend with all his deceytes. For, as Chrysostome sayth, wherever the fiends see the signe of the crosse, they flye away, dreading it as a staffe that they are beaten withall. And in thys blessinge ye beginne with youre hande at the hedde downwarde, and then to the lefte side and byleve that our Lord Jesu Christe came down from the head, that is from the Father into erthe by his holy Incarnation, and from the erthe into the left syde, that is hell, by his bitter Passion, and from thence into his Father's righte syde by his glorious Ascension".

TJHudson 17:08, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

This doesn't really say anything. My understanding is that it the Greek way is the original way, and that the differences come in the way that the actions of the priest were mirrored by the congregation -- in the West, the tradition arose to simply mirror the hand of the priest when he made the benediction, in the East, the tradition arose to make the same gesture that the priest was making. Eventually, in the West, the priests started doing what the congregation was doing. At any rate, it is certain that the reason for the difference is not a papal decree, but a gradual process. Therefore, I am going to note this.

right to left[edit]

I can not find why the Orthodox go right to left. What is the true reason?

The reason is that the Son sits to right side of the Father. The Son died, rose and sits to the right of the Father, hence the hand goes from the head to the stomach (or chest) which represents the Hades, and then to the right of the head, or right of the Father.


I grew up (Melkite Greek Catholic) learning that it also mirrors the "Be on my mind, in my heart, bless my good works, and forgive me my sins" ditty that you teach kids. Personally, I'd think it has to do with aversions to things of the left. Thus, one goes to the right shoulder and then the heart, not the left shoulder. Rdmauriello 02:16, 27 May 2006 (UTC)


As a Byzantine Catholic I do not end the sign of the cross on the left shoulder; instead, I end on the left breast (i.e., over the heart). When I was catechized I was told to end on the left breast because the Spirit resides in our hearts. STK, 0922am, 02 February 2008.

STK - with all due respect, that's not how it's traditionally done. Traditionally, it's from shoulder to shoulder. InfernoXV (talk) 10:54, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

Lutherans and the sign of the cross[edit]

Lutherans do this? Really? I'm Lutheran (ELCA) and I've never once seen it done in church. PeteJayhawk 20:21, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

It's probably on analogy with the Anglican church which does it. Or maybe there are Lutherans who do it? -- the GREAT Gavini 06:43, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

I've seen it done both in ELCA lutheran churches in Minnesota and Lutheran churches in Argentina. Here's a definitive source: "Why do Lutherans make the Sign of the Cross?" from the ELCA Webpage. --Justinhaaheim 02:41, 18 February 2007 (UTC)

Difference on difference[edit]

The article says:

"the most accepted is that in the West, when the priest made the Sign over the people to bless them, the people mirrored the direction of his hand, rather than copying the motions, thus, they moved their hand left to right, the direction that the priest's hand moved from the point of view of the congregation. In the East, the people simply continued to make the same sign."

I have heard the complete opposite explanation, according to which Eastern Faithful mirror the motions of the priest, while Western Faithful copy the priest's motions. This also makes sense, as the above version is contradicted by actual practice in the Western rite (with which I am familiar): the sign of the cross is not mirrored, rather both priest and faithful move from the left to the right.

Are there any objections to changing this?

Str1977 (smile back) 19:34, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

This issue is still not addressed by a reference. Therefore I place the fact tag. Str1977 (talk) 09:02, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Bosnian war[edit]

This:

During the Bosnian war, Serbo-Bosnian troops raised two fingers in a sign of victory, Bosnian Croats raised three fingers and Muslims raised one (after the strict monotheism of Islam).

...is wrong. It was Serbs who raised three fingers, while Croats raised two. Raising three fingers is almost certainly related to the Sign of the cross. Still, I'm unfamiliar with the Bosniak gesture of raising one finger - can somebody check it up? GregorB 21:44, Apr 23, 2005 (UTC)

Some Muslims stretch one finger as a rite just before death to affirm their strict monotheism. However, I heard this from the Maghreb, not from Bosnia. Str1977 (talk) 09:03, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Double-cross[edit]

"The actual origin of the expression "double-cross" which dates in English from only 1834, has to do with "fixing" a horse-race in a pre-arranged swindle that is only very loosely connected with the sign of the cross."

Besides only being tangentially related to the article, this contradicts the Double cross page (which, according to the Jonathan Wild article, is wrong as well). Can we just remove this sentence entirely? 12.217.177.151 03:00, 21 October 2005 (UTC)


Catchphrase[edit]

I have never heard this used outside the middle school playground, and it's not particularly relevant or noteworthy, thus, erasure. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 72.150.192.197 (talkcontribs) 05:11, 2 August 2006.

You state that this catchphrase is acceptable practice for Roman Catholics. I would ask you to show the source for:
1) The Catchphrase itself
2) The fact that this 'catchphrase' is acceptable for Roman Catholics.
In fact, there is no official catchphrase and the section should be deleted. --Ologgio 18:54, 29 July 2006 (UTC)
Come off it, that's not hard. You will find the phrase used in the film Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me and here is a citation of that mentions it.
The phrase also features in a scene in Nuns on the Run in which Robbie Coltrane's character teaches the sign of the cross to Eric Idle using the mnemonic (and a citation). You should also note that Coltrane is a lapsed Catholic.
It really isn't that uncommon, and I'm rather surprised to find so many editors hiding behind anonymous accounts and trying to supress it. Here is another citation that suggests it originated in 1965, but I suspect its older. Here is another example of someone using the phrase informally to educate a Jewish friend.
You could of course go down to you local Catholic church and try asking the choristers after the service to see whether they know what the phrase means - let me know if they are all bemused. -- Solipsist 08:37, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
I had no idea it was in Austin Powers, but it's the first thing I think of if I need to remember the order. It's just a useful tidbit if you're not Catholic and don't use it all the time, that's why I added it. Of course, I hadn't read this page first and apparently it's already been removed. Quick on the draw much? 163.231.6.86 19:40, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Deleted section Offence[edit]

Reasons:

  1. I don't think it is the only offence, why including only this example ?
  2. It has no relevance to the article what one individual did once. It is not an example of a trend of some sort.
  3. Neither the state/church relation isn't relevant to the article, since the section was about one single incident. (Are there any states banning the sign of the cross? This would be relevant).

This is my edit: [1] adriatikus | 13:18, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

The Gesture - unreferenced[edit]

I've added unreferenced template per User talk:Oldfaith123. Comments and contribs to the section are welcome. Thank you. adriatikus | 00:47, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

Sources[edit]

Stoglov(One hundred Chapters) of 1551, CHAP. 31: The sign of the cross must be made according to the rules, in the form of a cross; and the right hand, that is, the dextral hand, must be used in crossing oneself, with the thumb and the two lower fingers joined together, and the extended index finger joined to the middle finger, slightly bent; thus should prelates [and] priests give their blessing and thus should men cross themselves. . . . It befits all Orthodox Christians to hold their hand thus, and to make the sign of the cross upon their face with two fingers, and to bow, as we said before. If anyone should fail to give his blessing with two fingers, as Christ did, or should fail to make the sign of the cross with two fingers, may he be accursed. . .

The Psalter printed under the Patriarchate of Patriach Joseph of Moscow

Blessed Theodoret

Patriarch Germogen(Who was starved to death by Catholic authorities during the Polish invasion of Russia in 1612)

Canon Six of the 318 holy Fathers("Let the ancient customs prevail, those of Egypt,…” )

Archpriest Avvakum

Timothy Ware

The oldest icons confirm the correct practice.

St. Anna Kashinsky

The Book of Answers, by Barbara Berliner

Saint Bede: “The antichrists, the heretics, though they invoke the name of Christ and make the sign of the Cross, they are nevertheless of the world; they savor worldly things” [Commentary on 1 John, 202]

Shadow of Antichrist by David Scheffel

Rewrite seems overly biased[edit]

Over a series of edits, this article has become seemingly biased. This article should be about the use of the sign of the Cross in all churches, and especially major churches, but it has become overly skewed towards the views of Russian traditionalists: including referring to Patriarch Nikon as 'Nikon the apostate'. Such bias is simply unacceptable in Wikipedia articles. Of course, the views of different groups can be expressed, but not to the extinction of other major views. I initially put a POV notice at the top of the article, but now it seems all so biased that I shall revert it whole scale. I suggest that those few authors who support the reverted text, rework it acceptably into the article (without using overtly biased language) and refrain from deleting the text in other parts of the article. These edits have been reverted before, so I now believe it's time to discuss them here. I think it is fair to consider further biased editing and failure to discuss edits as vandalism. — Gareth Hughes 14:50, 9 June 2007 (UTC)

I have just reverted that series of edits, but it seems that a clear Old-Believer bias has been creeping into the article for a while. I have reintroduced to the article a lot of material that has just been removed. I believe we need to sift through some of this stuff to streamline it, but I think it's better present than drifting around in the history somewhere. To those editors who are Old Believers: of course, the views of Old Believers is welcome if presented in an encyclopaedic style, but rewriting the entire article to suit a minority view is not acceptable. Editors who continue to add biased material to this article will be warned and then, if they persist, be blocked. — Gareth Hughes 15:08, 9 June 2007 (UTC)
Oldfaith123 (talk · contribs) seems to have taken offence to this, reverted the article a couple of times and dumped the text of a tract here, on my talk page and the user's own talk page. Clearly, this user does not want to edit this article in collaboration with others, and I have blocked their account for 24 hours. The talk page is open for further discussion, but anything else that looks like vandalism will be reverted and may lead to lengthier blocks. — Gareth Hughes 00:52, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

Article is biased[edit]

The article is biased towards the traditions of the Latin West. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Oldfaith123 (talkcontribs) 05:29, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

Failing to biased towards the traditions of Russian Old Believers is not the same thing as being biased towards the traditions of the Latin West. —Angr 08:33, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

Offensive language[edit]

"Romish practices" ??

(see under Methodism)

Good catch. I changed it to "practices perceived to be typically Roman Catholic". —Angr 19:13, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Removing unsourced statements[edit]

I am removing the following paragraphs that have been tagged as lacking sources since March:

  • In the western Church, the direction gradually changed during the first millennium from right-to-left to left-to-right. The reasons for this are unclear and heavily disputed, however, the most accepted is that in the West, when the priest made the Sign over the people to bless them, the people mirrored the direction of his hand, rather than copying the motions, thus, they moved their hand left-to-right, the direction that the priest's hand moved from the point of view of the congregation. In the Byzantine-Rite East, the people simply continued to make the same sign. The Ethiopians, though further removed from the West, make the sign of the cross left-to-right.
  • Whatever the reason, by the 13th century, after the Great Schism between East and West had already occurred, Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) who met with Saint Francis of Assisi, directed that the Sign of the Cross be made with three fingers pressed together, two fingers held tightly in the palm and the hand moves from the forehead to the belly and from the right side to the left shoulder. He also acknowledged that some (in the far West) did the sign with two fingers and from left to right – this was not correct.

If anyone can find and cite sources for these, feel free to re-add them. —Angr 15:48, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

More frequent in Eastern traditions?[edit]

I have marked as {{dubious}} the claim that the Sign of the Cross is more frequent in Eastern Christianity than Western Christianity, because the examples given in the rest of the paragraph (upon entering or leaving a church building, at the start and end of personal prayer, or passing the main altar (which represents Christ). Additionally, Eastern Christians sign themselves whenever all three persons of the Trinity are addressed as well when approaching an icon) are all times when Western Christians (especially Roman Catholics, but also High-Church Anglicans) would also cross themselves. Except possibly when approaching an icon, since Western Christianity doesn't make as much use of those. Other times when Western Christians cross themselves are before and after receiving Communion, and at the beginning of the Benedictus. —Angr 15:43, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Not at all dubious if you've been to an Eastern Church. InfernoXV 18:29, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm not denying that Eastern Christians cross themselves at those points, just pointing out that Western Christians do too. —Angr 18:56, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
I've added where else Easterns cross themselves - and it's a whole lot more than Westerns. InfernoXV 20:11, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
I attend both Greek Catholic and Roman Catholic services regularly, and I can assure you that the Sign of the Cross is made many more times during the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (or BtG) than during RCC services. Majoreditor 13:04, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Technically, you are supposed to make the sign of the cross at every "Lord have mercy" in a litany, and at many other points in the service. This could mean crossing oneself as much as 50 times in a liturgy! —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.234.185.74 (talk) 23:20, 30 June 2008 (UTC)

Position of the fingers while crossing oneself in the Latin Church[edit]

It is nice to see the details given about the position of the fingers in many Eastern Churches, but I think the position of the fingers for the Western/Roman Catholic Church needs to be more detailed.

Maybe it should include various practices of positions of the fingers, such as open hand, or index and middle fingers extended with middle finger slightly bent, and pinky and ring fingers folded in close to the palm with the thumb joining them. I know this is the prescribed position when a priest is to give a blessing.

--Minimidgy (talk) 19:14, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

way to remember[edit]

what about "spectacles, testicles, wallet, and watch"? that should definately be in the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.12.28.54 (talk) 07:01, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

No, it shouldn't. This is an encyclopedia, not a repository of old jokes. And it's not even a good mnemonic anymore since most people nowadays keep their wallet in their back pocket and their watch on their wrist. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 15:42, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

Eastern Catholics[edit]

The article tells us that Western Christians and the "Oriental Orthodox" (as opposed to Eastern Orthodox) sign left-to-right, while the Eastern Orthodox sign right-to-left. What about Eastern Catholics? —Angr 19:48, 23 June 2008 (UTC)

Those of the Byzantine tradition do it the Byzantine way, those of the Oriental tradition do it the Oriental way. InfernoXV (talk) 20:06, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
Are those of the Oriental tradition all 8 of the churches listed at Eastern Catholics#List of Eastern Catholic Churches that are not listed under "Byzantine (Constantinopolitan) liturgical tradition"? —Angr 20:16, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
Precisely so. InfernoXV (talk) 20:41, 23 June 2008 (UTC)

"spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch"[edit]

To all anon/IPs out there: this is an encyclopedia, not a playground or a place where you can be cool because you've seen some comedy film. Please grow up! The sign of your attempted maturity would be NOT adding the above mnemonic technique, because IT IS NOT ENCYCLOPEDIC and it transforms WP into garbage. Your school curricula isn't based on Hollywood, is it? – Thank you. adriatikus | talk 01:00, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

Movie? What movie are you talking about? I learned of the rhyme from other people, and I’m not even Christian. Clearly the rhyme exists and all kinds of people know of it; and no doubt lots of children (and probably even adults) have used it to remember the order. How (specifically) is that not encyclopedic? 99.255.3.117 (talk) 00:44, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
If only it were only anons/IPs who keep adding this unencyclopedic trivia. But registered users often do, too. —Angr 06:27, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

The "spectacles" line can be heard in 2005's The World's Fastest Indian, with Anthony Hopkins. Tex (talk) 14:26, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

Christian hand guestures not mentioned in this article although available within Wikipedia[edit]

It seems that you should also present the following hand signs of Christianity, that are already found within Wikipedia! This sign consists of the ring finger of the right hand touching the right hand thumb, with the other three fingers raised! Just how do you miss something as obvious as this? Your site monitors seem to not be doing their job!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sankt_Petersburg_Auferstehungskirche_innen_2005_d.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Byzantinischer_Mosaizist_um_1020_001.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/12/Byzantinischer_Mosaizist_um_1118_001.jpg

Regards, 69.92.23.64 (talk) 20:57, 21 October 2009 (UTC)Ronald L. Hughes

This article is about the Sign of the Cross, not about Christian hand gestures in general. And Wikipedia doesn't have "site monitors", just volunteer editors. +Angr 06:30, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

If the above representations are not symbols of the Cross, then what can they be? They all seem to show the representation of Christ using various symbolic gestures with the hand(s) and fingers! Thus, if they do not fit within this narrow catagory, then perhaps a new article, concerning "Christian hand gestures in general" might well be in order? Regards, 69.92.23.64 (talk) 13:02, 28 October 2009 (UTC)Ronald L. Hughes

Excuse me! I should have written; Just why have your "volunteer editors" ignored this? Just how could a "volunteer" ingnore these as anything but "Christian gestures?" They represent Christian saints, etc., their hands seem to send some type of message, etc.? Some times the gesture is impossible to duplicate, etc.! Regards,69.92.23.64 (talk) 21:39, 18 May 2010 (UTC)Ronald L. Hughes

File:BASIL.jpg Nominated for Deletion[edit]

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WP:CAPS[edit]

check usage in in modern sources In ictu oculi (talk) 12:12, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Film[edit]

Does anyone know the sequence of the Sign by the Spaniard in Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides after the Fountain of Youth was not-so-completely destroyed? Thanks!

98.148.218.165 (talk) 03:09, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

Protestant views[edit]

Just came through out of curiosity, and while the Protestant views section is a good idea, it would be nice if the article touched on a few denominations that rejected it. At present it just says that it was rejected as Roman Catholic, but I'm sure there is more to it than just that. --Pstanton (talk) 08:01, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was moved. --BDD (talk) 22:34, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

Sign of the CrossSign of the cross – Lower case in every general dictionary in OneLook except this one (14 of 15), and throughout article. I am prevented from doing this because that title is being used as a redirect to this page. Will Sandberg (talk) 16:37, 23 March 2014 (UTC)

  • Support – per MOS:CAPS. ENeville (talk) 17:19, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
  • Disagree It is customary for "cross" to be capitalized in a Christian religious context, when referring to the Cross on which Christ was crucified. That is why, I think, Cross is capitalized in the title. It makes sense to me, and I think, most readers. --50.46.147.37 (talk) 22:26, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia is religiously neutral and doesn't defer to any particular religion. You'll notice that Mohammed (PBUH) is a red link. walk victor falk talk 23:27, 2 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Support per MOS:CAPS. walk victor falk talk 23:27, 2 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Support I'm a bit amazed that the cross is usually left miniscule; however, it does appear that this is the standard usage according to dictionaries. Religion is irrelevant; Wikipedia would capitalize the word, if such were the usage is reliable sources. Since most sources don't capitalize, Wikipedia shouldn't either. Xoloz (talk) 18:30, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.