Christian cross variants
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, 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. 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
Basic variants, or early variants widespread since antiquity.
|Greek cross||With arms of equal length. One of the most common Christian forms, in common use by the 4th century.|
|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.|
|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.|
|Globus cruciger||Globe cross. An orb surmounted by a cross; used in royal regalia.|
|Papal cross||A cross with three bars near the top. The bars are of unequal length, each one shorter than the one below.|
|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.|
|Stepped cross||A cross resting on a base with three steps, also called a graded or a Calvary cross.|
|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
|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.|
|Tau cross (Anthony's cross)||A T-shaped cross. Also called the Saint Anthony's cross and crux commissa.|
|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
|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||Ancient Georgian cross and national symbol from the 5th century AD.|
|Caucasian Albanian cross||Ancient Caucasian Albanian cross and national symbol from the 4th century AD.|
|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 cross-stone (Khachkar)||A khachkar (cross-stone) is a popular symbol of Armenians.|
|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.|
|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||The original Coptic cross has its origin in the Coptic ankh.|
|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.|
|Grapevine cross||Also known as the cross of Saint Nino of Cappadocia, who Christianised Georgia.|
|Gnostic cross||Cross used by the early Gnostic sects.|
|Occitan cross||Based on the counts of Toulouse's traditional coat of arms, it soon became the symbol of Occitania as a whole.|
|"Carolingian cross"||Cross of triquetras, called "Carolingian" by Rudolf Koch for its appearance in Carolingian-era art.|
|Rose Cross||A cross with a rose blooming at the center. The central symbol to all groups embracing the philosophy of the Rosicrucians.|
|Russian Orthodox cross||(See Suppedaneum cross, below).|
|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.|
|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.|
|Saint Thomas Cross||The ancient cross used by Saint Thomas Christians (also known as Syrian Christians or Nasrani) in Kerala, India.|
|Macedonian cross, also known as Veljusa Cross (Вељушки крст).||Macedonian Christian symbol, symbol of the Macedonian Orthodox Church.|
|Anuradhapura cross||A symbol of Christianity in Sri Lanka.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
Types of artifacts
|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.|
|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. 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.|
|Blessing cross||Used by priests of the Eastern Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches to bestow blessings upon the faithful.|
|Processional cross||Used to lead religious processions; sometimes, after the procession it is placed behind the altar to serve as an altar cross.|
|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.|
|Pectoral cross||A large cross worn in front of the chest (in Latin, pectus) by some clergy.|
|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|
|Nasrani Minnu||Wedding pendant with cross made of 21 beads used by Saint Thomas Christians of India|
- Crosses in heraldry
- Christian symbolism
- Stations of the Cross
- Crucifixion in the arts
- Christ Carrying the Cross
- The Raising of the Cross
- Descent from the Cross
- Cultural, political, and religious symbols in Unicode
- 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.
- Rudolf Koch, Christliche Symbole (1932)
- "NSC NETWORK – Analogical review on Saint Thomas Cross- The symbol of Nasranis-Interpretation of the Inscriptions". Nasrani.net. Retrieved 2011-12-10.
- accessed on 2012-04-21
- Ordnance Survey map legend, accessed 13 May 2016
- "General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 117" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-12-10.