Christian cross variants

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Christian cross variants
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 cruciform halo.

This is a list of Christian cross variants. The Christian cross, with or without a figure of Christ included, is the main religious symbol of Christianity. A cross with figure of Christ affixed to it is termed a crucifix and the figure is often referred to as the corpus (Latin for "body").

The term Greek cross designates a cross with arms of equal length, as in a plus sign, while the term Latin cross designates a cross with an elongated descending arm. Numerous other variants have been developed during the medieval period.

Christian crosses are used widely in churches, on top of church buildings, on bibles, in heraldry, in personal jewelry, on hilltops, and elsewhere as an attestation or other symbol of Christianity. Crosses are a prominent feature of Christian cemeteries, either carved on gravestones or as sculpted stelae. Because of this, planting small crosses is sometimes used in countries of Christian culture to mark the site of fatal accidents, ors, such as the Zugspitze or Mount Royal, so as to be visible over the entire surrounding area. 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.

Several Christian cross variants are available in computer-displayed text. The Latin cross symbol ("✝") is included in the unicode character set as "271D". For others, see Religious and political symbols in Unicode.

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 (or Roman) 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.
PatriarchsCross.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.
PopesCross.svg Papal cross A cross with three bars near the top. The bars 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
Celtic-style crossed circle.svg Ringed cross A cross featuring a ring or nimbus. This type has several variants, including the cruciform halo and the Celtic cross.[2]

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 (St. Andrew's cross) 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.
Cross Santiago.svg Cross of Saint James A red Cross of Saint James with flourished arms, surmounted with an escallop, was the emblem of the twelfth-century Spanish military Order of Santiago, named after Saint James the Greater.
Grapevine cross.svg Grapevine cross Also known as the cross of Saint Nino of Cappadocia, who Christianised Georgia.
Nasrani cross Saint Thomas Cross The ancient cross used by Saint Thomas Christians (also known as Syrian Christians or Nasrani) in Kerala, India.[3]
Phillip cross Cross of Philip the Apostle The philosopher's cross is not, as might be supposed, an attribute of the apostle and martyr, Philip. This is represented in iconography predominantly with an upright Latin cross with a long foot and a book as a sign of recognition. The underlying Philip's cross could have originated from the common symbolic representation of these two identifiers, whereby a Latin cross lies diagonally above a lying (possibly open) book to refer to the apostle.

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.
Bolnisi cross.svg 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.
CelticCross.svg Celtic Cross Essentially a Latin cross, with a circle enclosing the intersection of the upright and crossbar, as in the standing High crosses.
Original Coptic cross.svg Coptic cross The original Coptic cross has its origin in the Coptic ankh.
Coptic-Cross.svg Coptic cross The Coptic cross as depicted in Rudolf Koch's The Book of Signs (1933).
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.
Eastern Syriac Cross.svg East Syrian cross Syriac Orthodox cross.
Simple crossed circle.svg Gnostic cross Cross used by the early Gnostic sects.
Maltese cross.svg Maltese cross A cross with eight-pointed cross having the form of four "V"-shaped elements, each joining the others at its vertex, leaving the other two tips spread outward symmetrically. It is the cross symbol associated with the Order of St. John since the middle ages, shared with the traditional Knights Hospitaller and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and by extension with the island of Malta.
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.
Coa Illustration Cross Carolingian.svg "Carolingian cross" Cross of triquetras, called "Carolingian" by Rudolf Koch for its appearance in Carolingian-era art.[4]
Triquetra-Cross-alternate.svg "Alternate Carolingian cross" A cross composed of four interlaced triquetras, for a total of 20 crossings.
RosecrossPlexi.jpg Rose Cross A cross with a rose blooming at the center. The central symbol to all groups embracing the 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 4 Cyrillic S's (C) in each of its angles, which represent the imperial motto of the Palaiologos dynasty when he resurrected the Byzantine Empire: King of Kings, Ruling Over Kings (βασιλεὺς βασιλέων, βασιλεύων βασιλευόντων - Basileus Basileōn, Basileuōn Basileuontōn). A national symbol of Serbia and symbol of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
OrthodoxCross.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.
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.
Western Syriac Cross.svg West Syrian cross Syriac Orthodox cross.
Coa Illustration Cross Sideways.svg Nordic cross/Scandinavian cross All of the Nordic countries except Greenland have adopted such flags in the modern period, and while the Scandinavian cross is named for its use in the national flags of the Scandinavian nations, the term is used universally by vexillologists, in reference not only to the flags of the Nordic countries.

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 Mary being 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.[5]
Symbol budynku kościelnego.png
Set01-church.svg
Ordnance Survey cross symbols Used on Ordnance Survey maps to represent churches and chapels. A cross on a filled square represents a church with a tower; and a cross on a filled circle represents a church with a spire. Churches without towers or spires are represented by plain Greek crosses. More recently, these symbols have started to refer to non-Christian places of worship as well, and the cross on a filled circle can now also mean a place of worship with a dome.[6]

Types of artifacts[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.[7] 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 Catholic, 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. ^ Herren, Michael W.; Brown, Shirley Ann (2002). Christ in Celtic Christianity: Britain and Ireland from the Fifth to the Tenth Century. Boydell Press. p. 192–200. ISBN 0851158897. 
  3. ^ "NSC NETWORK – Analogical review on Saint Thomas Cross- The symbol of Nasranis-Interpretation of the Inscriptions". Nasrani.net. Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  4. ^ Rudolf Koch, Christliche Symbole (1932)
  5. ^ accessed on 2012-04-21
  6. ^ Ordnance Survey map legend, accessed 13 May 2016
  7. ^ "General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 117" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-12-10.