Types of Christian Crosses and Their Meaning

Types of Christian Crosses and Their Meaning

by Anelia Kuzmanova

A cross is a symbol of faith and popularly known as a religious symbol. Faith is defined as something that you cannot see but still believe. That is why most scriptures of religions that are centered on God is considered a myth. Stories meat to teach people values and to give hope. In any case, different religions have always been a way to unite people as well as provide hope to the hopeless. Believing in something that science cannot prove is exciting and is proof of higher power, that even the most intelligent human cannot explain. Some say that the scriptures are a storybook made to be accurate by the people who love power and control. In any case, there are believers and non-believers, it’s a free world and we can choose which to believe.

Brief History of Christianity

Christianity started with the birth of Jesus Christ. Mary, a virgin betrothed to a carpenter named Joseph. He learned that Mary was pregnant and was about not to continue with the marriage until an angel spoke to him, saying that Mary was carrying a child from the Holy Spirit. Being a just and religious man, he decided to continue with their marriage and kept it a secret. The angel once again came and spoke to the couple by means of a dream. Herod learned about the birth of the king of kings that is destined to rise up against the kings and free the slaves. The angel warned them of the kings' plan on killing all the newborns with age two years and below. They fled to Bethlehem to protect the child. David and Mary fled to Bethlehem for Joseph came for the line of David. There are some questions on why God chose Mary as a vessel to give birth to the human form of his beloved son. Some say it was already decided to be Mary’s fate. Some say it is because the prophecy said that Jesus would come from the line of David, which Joseph is from. So it is actually Joseph who was chosen not Mary, who was just about to marry Joseph. Some said that it is because Mary was a virgin and religious woman who did not question when the angel told her that she will carry the son of the Holy Spirit. Whatever the reason, only God knows. Jesus Christ then grew to be a carpenter, like Joseph. As he reaches the age of maturity, he then went to spread Gods words until he was crucified.

The sign of the cross has been around since the Stone Age in the form of hieroglyphics. Due to the death of Christ on the cross, it has become a symbol of the Christian religion. The cross with a human form on it is called a crucifix, while the bare one is called a Cross. Some questions surround the shape of the cross where the messiah died. For the Christians, it mostly a different version of a letter t shape with two pieces of wood. Some contradict this theory. They said that the Bible specifically said that Jesus will die on a tree, a single entity not a two plank of wood pieced together. Anyway, let us look at the different types of Christian cross.

Four Main Cristian Cross

Crux quadrata (Greek Cross)

Greek Cross

The Greek cross that symbolizes God himself. The ancient words of life and light are engraved on this version that is a sign of Christ as was said in the Holy Scriptures, only through him, a person can find pure light and eternal life. This version has four equal size arms; therefore, the name quadrata or square.

A design that came from a monastic center built by the Byzantines on Mount Athos in Greece. According to the myth, Athos, a giant, was battling Poseidon, the God of the sea. He threw a huge rock that landed on the water; therefore, the creation of the sacred place now called the Holy Mountain. During the fourth century, when Mary and Joseph were on their journey to visit a man named Lazarus, the couple took refuge on the island when they encountered a storm while at sea. This is the reason why the place is also called the garden of the Virgin Mary.

Monks who want to live a life of abstinence and seek a purposeful life come to live on Mount Athos.

Greek Phos Zoe Cross

Phos Zoe

A version of the Greek cross where the words Phos and Zoe are written intersecting each other. A symbol of Christ as the bringer of light and life for the humans who seek the path to enlightenment.

Greek baptismal cross

Greek baptismal cross

A type of a cross with bud design at the end. This is specially used during baptism. Baptism is a ritual to wash away all the sins. It is like being reborn. The purpose of Jesus Christ's death was to wash away our sins. Through him, we can enter the gates of heaven as long as we come to accept and repent our previous sins. Undergoing the baptismal rite signifies one’s full acceptance of spiritual life and following the will of God almighty. Like a little flower being introduced to the environment, the buds on the tips of the Baptismal cross signifies the newborn or a beginning of a journey. A person who just entered the journey that would bloom as he journeys to self-enlightenment. A baby in terms of faith that would grow as he accepts the true meaning and purpose of one’s life.

Crux immissa

Also known as the Latin cross. This is the shape of the cross where Christ was crucified to death. There is much theory on theories on the kind of wood it came from. A version where the wood came from the tree of life that was once at the center of the Garden of Eden. The story says that the seed of the tree of life was placed in the mouth of Adam when he died. It grew into a tree. The tree was then cut and made into a bridge where the queen of Sheba had to cross to meet with the wise Solomon.

When Christ was destined to be crucified, it was said that the wood used was from the same bridge. The true cross was believed to be indestructible, having bathed with the blood of Christ and the remnants of Adam.

Centuries later, the true cross was found by Saint Helena through a dream. It was found in the tomb where Jesus Christ was placed. The monument had three crosses inside. Having no idea which one was used to crucify Christ, they put the crosses on top of a sick woman. One of the three crosses was said to heal the woman and therefore concluded to be the one Christ had used. The true cross was then chopped into pieces and used as a relic to be distributed to the churches. Some parts were used as a part of a cross where priests kiss as they pass, but no one dares touch wood. A portion of the true cross is also housed in the church that was built at the exact tomb of Christ in Jerusalem, The Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Crux commissa (Tau Cross)

Tau Cross

Tau or saint Anthony's cross. Tau symbol was said to be the original form of the crucifix. The logo looks like a capital letter T.

From the Egyptian tau, also known as the crux ansata. A symbol that represents immortality and resurrection. Tammuz, also known as Dumuzid, is the God of shepherds and fertility. He is married to a goddess named Inanna. Inanna destined to go the underworld but instead, she escaped and went back to the world of the living, she was chased after by the group of demons who told her that a person must take her place in the underworld. Fast forward to Inanna seeing Tammuz sitting on the throne being entertained by a group of female slaves. She then told the demons to take him in her place to the underworld. Prior to this happening, Tammuz had a dream that a horde of demons is about to capture him and bring him to hell, he escaped. But the demons were able to find him and took him to the underworld in place of his wife. His family mourned over his death, Inanna as well as regretted her actions. In the end, Inanna went back to the underworld to replace his husband, the Resurrection of Tammuz is a symbol of a god being brought back to life. Some historians who have interpreted the story written on tablets do not agree to the representation of Tammuz winning over death like how Christ triumphed over death because someone still took his place in the underworld, unlike Christ, who has fought with death and resurrected on his own.

The symbol denotes salvation for Christians. Why? According to the scriptures during the time when the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the men who have the mark on their forehead are the people who are going to be saved. As a symbol of a holy man that accepted the word of God and protected by the messiah to go up the paradise.

Crux decussata

Crux decussata

A cross is also known as Saint Andrew’s cross. It came from an initial during the later part of the fourth century, a time where pagans were slowly introduced to Christianity as they share a Cross.

A representation of the letter X. This version of a cross comes from the belief that Saint Andrew was crucified in an X shaped cross he claimed that he is unworthy of the design of the true cross, which Christ was formerly crucified. A humble and brave apostle of Christ.

As a Symbol of humility. Saint Andrew is a representation of a humble servant of the Lord, like all the apostles who believe that their deeds are nothing compared to the power and sacrifices of the redeemer. They think that without God, they are nothing.

Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. This explains the red shape design on their flags.

Pre Christian era

Celtic cross

Celtic Cross

Believed to be the precursor of the Christian cross. This is characterized by a circle intersecting the Latin cross. The ring represents the sun. The sun God that the pagans worship.

Carolingian cross

Carolingian cross

A version of the Christians' everlasting cross originated in the fifth century that incorporates the Celtic knot design. This specific cross is characterized by four triquetras connected at the center. A sign of the trinity of the father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is also a symbol of the life cycle of the Celtics, which is births, death, and rebirth.

Everlasting Cross

Everlasting Cross

A cross with the interlaced infinity sign. A symbol of immortality and infinite love. The love of God to humans who is willing to sacrifice his only son, allowed him to be tortured and slain to save his beloved humans. His passion continues up to the present time until the return of his son and brings with him the spirits of the pure.

Another version of the everlasting cross is represented by a cross with intertwined strings with petit fleur-de-lis in each inner angle. This specific design came from Bulgaria. The knots are a representation of the patron saints of Europe, Cyril, and Methodius.

Some of the everlasting crosses are as follows:

Assumptions cross - a symbol used by the Augustinians

Koru Cross – a version of the Maori cross that denotes a new beginning, progress, and power.

Egyptian Ankh

Egyptian Ankh

Simply a stickman shaped symbol. A circle on a Tau cross. A logo that denotes the key of life in ancient Egypt. A key to the afterlife. It can be seen in Egyptian drawing on crypts or tombs for the spirit of the dead to transcend to the eternal life. It can also be seen in the hands of the Anubis as a giver of life or rebirth to the afterlife. Early Christian belief that it is a sign of fruitfulness and fertility.

For Christians, the uppermost circle shape is a symbol of Jesus Christ. Christ is held to be the head of everyone. A husband's crown, being the head of the family. The husband is the head before the woman, for a woman must succumb to her husband. The same as with the children. When the crown of the family dies, the wife’s head would now be directly under Christ in place of the dead husband. There are versions of Ankhs that looks like the cross is wearing a robe. For some, it denotes the body of Christ.

The form of Christ is the illustration of the bread that he passed during the last supper, and his blood is the wine that the apostles drank from one cup. It was said that the body of Christ is pure and flawless. Like a lamb that people used to sacrifice for God. The healthiest and without any Flaw. After the rebirth, we would all have the body of Christ. A new and perfect form without blemish. His spilled blood to save all that accepts him as the savior and the son of God.

Swastika – crux gammata

Swastika – crux gammata

A symbol that originated from the Sanskrit words that mean prosperity and luck. It might be more popular as a symbol of the Nazis. This is also a version of the triskelion of the Celts. A four-arm of equal length that looks like a rotating arm. A symbol used in different religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Due to its shape, it was said to be a precursor of the Christian cross.

Different Versions of the Christian Cross

Crucifix

Crucifix

A version of the cross with the form of Jesus Christ on it. Corpus is referred to as the body of Christ. Crucifixion is a form of punishment for a person condemned of a crime such as those who go against the law, the order, and religion. Christ, having been convicted of crucifixion, was stripped of all his clothing and underwent whipping with the use of a scourge. An object made of nine strands of leather or thick cords with knotted ends. Scourging is a form of torture. After the whipping, he then carried his cross to the location to Golgotha, a hill on Jerusalem, his last stop. He was hanged with a nail on each hand, his feet were tied and nailed to the wood. A crest of thorns placed on his head. Researchers traced that Christ was only on the cross for only six hours. To confirm his death, a soldier had to piece him on the side where blood and water came out.

A sign of sacrifice and redemption. Jesus Christ was the son of God even before he took his human form. He was with him before the creation of Earth. Due to God’s love for humans, he sent his beloved son to give humans a chance for redemption. To praise him and ask for forgiveness in exchange for everlasting life.

Byzantine Empire Crosses

Christo gram Chi Rho

Christo gram Chi Rho

A cross characterized by the letters of Chi and Rho is the first two letters of the Greek word Christos. The combination of eth letter P and the letter X.

The story of King Constantine having a vision in the form of a dream telling him that having the Christian symbol on his shield would win him the war. Immediately upon waking up, he ordered his soldiers to mark their shields with the emblem. True enough, they won the battle against Maxentius. Deeply moved by the realization of the vision on his dream, he then orders the halt in persecuting Christians. Emperor Constantine is the first Christian Roman king that had his baptism on his death bed. The symbol can be seen in on his crown, coins, and sarcophagus and on the helmets on his soldiers.

A sign of victory and Christ resurrection from death.

A symbol that existed before the Christian era, a symbol that denotes good-fortune for the pagans.

Patriarchal Cross

Patriarchal Cross

A version of a Latin cross with an additional shorter horizontal line on top of the central horizontal line. A symbol of a Christ as a ruler and Christian faith.

Originated in the tenth century, used as the coat of arms of Hungary. A version f the cross used by the patriarch of a church.

The uppermost short beam represents where the name of the person being crucified is placed. For Christ, the inscription of the INRI sign is usually placed on this part. These four letters mean Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. This was set by Pontius Pilate, the king who ordered the death of Christ. A name which Jesus declared that offended the said king.

On a deeper level, A symbol of a Christ as a ruler and Christian faith. The uppermost short beam embodies Christ, who rules over the Christian Churches, which is represented by the second longer beam. Or the resurrection of the renaissance of Christ over death.

Russian Orthodox Cross

Russian Orthodox Cross

An eight-point version of the Patriarchal cross. It has an additional slanted short beam under the patriarchal cross. The top shorter horizontal wood. The reason behind the slanted lower beam or the foot bar is Dimas. The thief beside Christ during crucifixion who was crucified on the same day as Christ. Dimas, according to the Holy scriptures, have said to believe in Christ before he dies, Jesus told him that he is forgiven and would be a part of the people who will live with him in God’s paradise. The upper slanted beam is pointing to Dimas's location during the said crucifixion. Another interpretation of the slanted beam is the top point is leading to the heavens, and the lower part is pointing to the underworld. Places where a person is destined to go depending on his decision to follow or reject Christ as his savior.

Russian Cross

Russian Cross

A version of the Latin cross with a slanted horizontal line below the main long horizontal line of the Latin cross. A six-point cross to replace the orthodox cross. A portion of the coat of arms of the government of Kherson of the Roman Empire.

Cross of Lorraine

Cross of Lorraine

A French version of the Patriarchal cross. A double. A cross with a double horizontal; beam if the same length. The design originated in Jordan in the form of a shepherd crook. A cross also used by the knights of Templar on their shield. The symbol denotes Christ over the head of the Christian religion, the same as the Patriarchal cross, the only difference is the meaning behind the foot bar. The foot bar represents the passage in the Bible where humans must worship God worship the footstool on his feet: therefore, the incorporation of the lower beam on the Cross design. The knight of Templars is considered as the soldier s that protects the religion. They swore by blood an oath to protect the church of the Sepulcher that they take until their death.

Crusaders Cross

Crusaders Cross

Saint George cross is a version of the cross characterized with a prominent central cross with four small crosses in each angle. A version that has a variety of meanings. One would be Christ being the center and, the four stars are the gospel writer and preachers, namely Matthew, Luke, John, and Mark.

Another meaning would be Christ as the center, spreading the word of God in four directions of the Earth. Some also say that the four little stars are the nails embedded on Christ's body, and the horizontal part of the cross is the spear piercing his side as the soldier confirms his death.

Grapevine cross

Cross grapevine

Of all the plant species, why a grapevine? There is a passage in the bible wherein it talks about the gentiles and the Hebrews. Christ is the owner of the vineyard, and the Hebrews are the grapevines. The veins must continue to be fruitful for it not to be cut out of the crops for Christ can always get a foreign species and incorporate inside the vineyard that bears fruits. The grapevines pertain to the Hebrews that is a native race to the Holy land. Hebrews were given the first chance to learn and follow the word of God. One a Hebrew does not accept and live a life according to God’s purpose. The opportunity to worship would be given to outsiders, such as the Gentiles who are willing and wanting to be a portion of the group. According to the scriptures, each of us has our own role and way of worship. Some are meant to be preachers, some followers. Preachers must go out of their way to spread the words of God. While the followers have to fulfill their own part as a way of worship. For example, a mother’s approach would be taking care of her children and family. A father’s form of worship is taking care of the needs of his family. A farmer's way of worship is to till the soil and produce good quality of produce.

Mariner’s cross

Mariner’s cross

A cross in the figure of an anchor. An anchor keeps the boat stable and rooted to the ground. The symbol that denotes the strengths and stability of one’s faith. A ship can sail anywhere and can encounter huge waves and storms, but an anchor firmly fixed on the ocean floor would keep the boat from straying from its course. A spirit that accepts Jesus Christ would never get lost from the path of enlightenment fro he would always be the light that would show you the right way and your strength that you can hold on to in spite of the problems or difficulties that you may encounter.

It can also be seen on the Congregation’s seal. The Seal sign combined with the Holy cross. It is characterized by a bottom anchor shape, a sash with the initials of Joseph, Mary and Jesus, three hearts, the weeping heart of Mary, the sacred heart of Jesus, and the heart of Joseph with a cross on the uppermost part. Used as a seals coat of arms that denotes being a believer of Christ.

Nancy Cross

A version of the Cross of Lorraine. What makes it unique is the thistle at the center of the two horizontal bars, which is a sign of bravery. Another fascinating part would be the tips of the points having tiny cross shapes. Seven cross points that represent the seven sacraments of God.

Nasrani Cross

Nasrani Cross

A version of the cross from India named after doubting Thomas or Saint Thomas. Saint Thomas traveled to India and introduced Christianity. A man named Thomas doubted the resurrection of Christ from the grave. He said that he would only belive once his fingers touched the wounds from the nails and thrust his hand into the wound where the spear pierced. Jesus Christ then let him feel his wounds that humbled Thomas. He then started preaching the word of God and was living proof of Christ's resurrection.

The cross is characterized by a dove on its uppermost part that symbolizes the Holy Spirit flying into people's hearts. The pomegranate buds on the tips of the cross points that denote the beginning of spiritual life for baptism and resurrection of the savior Jesus Christ. The buds are also a sign of the four primary gospel writers and the curled part of the buds for apostles. The next part of this elaborate design is the menorah, a throne-like pedestal where the cross sits. The meaning of the menorah is based on the design. A lotus designed menorah denotes innocence and holiness. The national flower of India that also means spiritual rebirth. A branched design menorah is a symbol of the prophecy wherefrom the scriptures indicating branches shall grow out from a stem, which is Christ. The bottom part of the Nasrani Cross is the steps of cavalry. These steps mean faith, hope and love. Another passage from the Bible that says love is the root of belief and faith. The love of God, the promise of redemption, and the faith of the unseen. The last and most important part is the cross. A version of the Greek cross that denotes the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, a symbol of love from God to humans and proof of the powers of God almighty.

Lily Cross

Lily Cross

A version of the Latin cross adorned with white lilies. These are commonly used in funerals, which explains it being called a funeral cross. The lily represents the rebirth or transition of the soul into a pure spirit. Lilies were also believed to cast away evil spirits that might enter the dead person's body.

Fleur de Lis cross

Fleur de Lis cross

A Latin cross with lily petals design. The points of the arms resemble the buds of lilies or a barbed spear that made it a popular model as heraldry in France. A lily is a symbol of purity and innocence. The flower is associated with the Virgin Mary. Who was as pure and innocent as the lily as she carries the savior Emmanuel in her womb. She is also known as a lily of the valleys. The symbol was used by Edward the third on his coat of arms as he took over the French crown in the eleventh century.

At present, the fleur-de-lis cross is commonly known as the Gothic cross. A cross is worn by the people who are a fan of the Goth style and the belief of vampires and others.

Nail Cross

Nail Cross

The cross of suffering is a version of the Latin cross with sharp points depending on the design. This design highlights the sufferings of the Messiah as he sacrifices himself to wash off human sins. The pointed upper sharp tip represents the nails while the bottom point represents the edge of the spear that pierced through the side of Jesus Christ. The two types of Passion cross are as follows:

  1. Passion Cross with three sharp points and a halo
  2. Passion cross with four-point sharp tips

Maltese cross

Maltese cross

Saint John’s cross is a type of a cross that looks quite the same as the Celtic cross with our middle circle. A cross with four arms with equal lengths, the tips of the cross has a broader end that denotes the head of the nails used on Christ’s hands and feet. Some may take the shape of four triangles that meet at the center. Imagine a rotating windmill, that is how a Pattee cross would look like. Also, a symbol that denotes the birth, death, and resurrection of the redeemer.

An eight-point design that denotes eternity. A symbol of the life cycle of birth, death, and rebirth as Christ was said to resurrect on the eight-day after he went to Jerusalem.

Catacombs cross

Catacombs cross

A type of cross seen on graveyards and catacombs. A cross with four words that mean leader, light, king, and law, which all pertains to Emmanuel as the king of all kings, leader of all men, the doctrine of God and, the light to the path of enlightenment. A mark of believers of Christian faith for a peaceful sleep as their spirit waits for the second return of the savior Jesus Christ.

The insignia of the cross in whatever form would always be a symbol and reminder of the Supreme Being. Whatever religion you might believe, it seems that the logo still symbolizes the supreme God. For the believers of God and Christ, it would always denote redemption. Any person, whatever crime he had committed, can still be forgiven when he accepts Christ as his savior and ask for forgiveness. He would have to change how he lives and follow the words of God. A chance to be with him in heaven. A place said that even your wildest imagination is at par. A paradise where there is neither pain nor sadness. An eternity with God singing his praises.

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