Types of Crosses, their meanings, and Secrets


Types of Crossings, their meanings, and Secrets
Types of Crossings, their meanings, and Secrets


The cross is an ancient symbol, which has known many types and different variations over time. For Christians, it is of fundamental importance. We discover the different types of crosses, their history, their secrets, and their symbolic meaning.


What is the cross? 

Probably, most of the people we know would answer this question by saying that it is the Christian symbol par excellence since it reminds of the crucified Christ, who sacrificed himself for the salvation of humanity. This is undoubtedly true, except that the symbol of the cross existed even before.

What shape is the cross? 

The geometry of a cross is very simple: two lines that intersect at right angles, dividing each other in half, in some cases, or so that the longest line is divided to have a longer and a shorter arm. The ease with which such a design can be reproduced makes us understand why it is one of the oldest symbols of humanity.
Christianity was not the first religion to use crosses as an object of devotion. Even in the Stone Age, and until pre-Christian times, cross-shaped representations were widespread. The so-called Celtic cross was the symbol of Odin for the Germanic peoples. It represented a cross enclosed in a circle. Even in ancient Egypt, there was a symbol that reminded a lot of the cross, the anj , a symbol of life. Islam, on the other hand, has never recognized the cross as a religious symbol, because it denies that Jesus died on the cross, having been replaced by a sosia.
The word "Cruz" comes from the Latin Crux. For the ancient Romans, it was a tool used to inflict terrible torture, the crucifixion, in fact. But, remaining within the sphere of symbols, we remember that in Roman numeration, the number 10 is written X, an element that is very reminiscent of a cross.
Upon reaching Christianity, as we have anticipated, the cross is the main symbol of religion. In fact, it reminds the death of Jesus, crucified by order of Pontius Pilate, Roman Procurator of Judea, who sentenced him to death. Paradoxically, from such a brutal and terrible act, the cross has been reborn and has been transmitted with a positive value, since the passion and death of Jesus coincide with the fulfillment of His mission of salvation for all men. A symbol of absolute love, therefore, of extreme sacrifice.
However, it took the cross and the crucifix a while to extend and be recognized. They began to be used importantly only from the fourth century. The custom of placing a cross on the altar of churches dates back to the Middle Ages.
Thus, we see the various types of crosses and crucifixes that have spread over the centuries, as symbolic-decorative motifs and with particular symbolic meanings.

Latin cross

latin cross, Types of Crossings, their meanings, and Secrets
Latin cross
It is the most typical of the crosses, which for Christians represents the Crucifixion of Jesus. It has two perpendicular arms, of which the transverse is shorter than the longitudinal.

Greek cross

Greekcross, Types of Crossings, their meanings, and Secrets
Greek cross
It is a cross formed by four arms of equal size that intersect at right angles. Typical of Byzantine art, it alternated over the centuries with the Latin cross as the basis for the church plant. Its four equal arms and the fact that it can be contained in a square, make the Greek cross the idealized cross, which represents the Divine Nature of Christ.

Cruz de Tau, also known as Cruz de San Antonio Abad or Crux commissa


Cruz de Tau, also known as Cruz de San Antonio Abad or Crux commissa
Cruz de Tau, also known as Cruz de San Antonio Abad or Crux commissa
The Tau is nothing but the last letter of the ancient Hebrew alphabet, which represents the fulfillment of the entire revealed word of God. Its shape actually resembles a cross, although without the upper arm. That is why the Christians adopted it. But another reason is that being the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, it contained a prophecy about the End Times, as well as the Greek letter Omega. It owes its fame and dissemination above all to San Francisco, who chose it as its symbol of devotion and as a seal, thanks to its deep spiritual conviction for which the salvation of each man resided on the cross of Christ.

Cross tree of life

cross tree of life, Types of Crossings, their meanings, and Secrets
cross tree of life
The link between the cross and the tree of life is also fascinating.
A legend says that the tree from which the wood of the Cross of Jesus was made was born from one of the three seeds (of cedar, cypress, and pine) placed in Adam's mouth when he died. Another legend tells that at the death of Adam, his son Set had placed in his mouth a twig of the Tree of Life, which had been donated by the Archangel Michael. From this twig, a new tree would be born.
The tree-shaped cross of life has arms similar to the branches of a tree, full of leaves, flowers, and fruits. Beyond the legends, its symbology is clear. The cross is the new Tree of Life, thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus, who affirmed his identity: "I am the life" (Jn 14.6; 6.53).

Eight-pointed cross

Eight-pointed cross,
Eight-pointed cross
The eight-pointed cross, also known as the Maltese cross, or St. John's cross, was a symbol of the Amalfi Marine Republic, at least since the eleventh century. It was also a symbol of the Hospital Orders of St. John of Jerusalem, on whose garments the white color stood out, reminiscent of the Purity of the Beatitudes.

The eight-pointed cross is a symbol of Byzantine origin. The eight points probably symbolize the beatitudes listed by St. Matthew:

  1. Blessed are the poor in spirit because theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
  2. Blessed are the meek because they will inherit the Earth
  3. Blessed are those that weep, for they shall receive consolation
  4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice because they will be satisfied
  5. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy
  6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God
  7. Blessed are those who work for peace because they will be called children of God
  8. Blessed are the persecuted because of justice because theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven

Alternatively, they could represent the Christian virtues:

  1. Loyalty
  2. Piety
  3. Frankness
  4. Courage
  5. Glory and honor
  6. Contempt for death
  7. Solidarity with the poor and the sick
  8. Respect for the Church

Or the eight principles that were the basis of the mission of the Knights of St. John:

  1. spirituality
  2. simplicity
  3. humility
  4. compassion
  5. Justice
  6. mercy
  7. sincerity
  8. endurance

Cross of San Emiliano de la Cogolla

Cross of San Emiliano de la Cogolla: Also known as the Visigothic Cross, it is a cross with the arms anchored, that is to say, they end in two outward curved points, as anchors, in fact. This cross is linked to the figure of San Emiliano, a hermit who lived in Spain in the sixth century. That is why the cross is also known by the Spanish definition of Cruz de San Millán.
Cross of San Emiliano de la Cogolla
Also known as the Visigothic Cross, it is a cross with the arms anchored, that is to say, they end in two outward curved points, as anchors, in fact. This cross is linked to the figure of San Emiliano, a hermit who lived in Spain in the sixth century. That is why the cross is also known by the Spanish definition of Cruz de San Millán.
The twelve vertices of the arms symbolize the twelve apostles. The fact that the points are directed outwards or inwards indicates the weakness of the Church, which is composed of men, saints, and sinners. The decoration that leads to the center of the cross is made of nettle leaves, to remember that following God's path can be very painful. The center of the cross of San Emiliano is composed of a flower with eight petals, which symbolize the eight beatitudes. In the center, there is a point that represents God. From the flower four trilobed buds branching out symbolize the Trinity.

The Coptic Cross

Coptic cross, Also known as the Ansata Cross, or Egyptian Cross, it has the shape of an inverted drop placed in the center of the horizontal arms. In practice, it resembles a key, and for this reason, it is also called the Key of life, the Key of the Nile or the Cross of Anj, in memory of the ancient Egyptian symbol of eternal life.
The Coptic Cross
Also known as the Ansata Cross, or Egyptian Cross, it has the shape of an inverted drop placed in the center of the horizontal arms. In practice, it resembles a key, and for this reason, it is also called the Key of life, the Key of the Nile or the Cross of Anj, in memory of the ancient Egyptian symbol of eternal life.
In practice, the Coptic cross is nothing more than the evolution of the ancient Egyptian ankh , which adorned the tombs of the pharaohs and was often represented in the hands of the gods. Then, the Coptic Orthodox Church endorsed this symbol and transformed it into its current appearance.

Cross with trilobed arms

It is typical of the Russian Orthodox Church and is formed by two perpendicular arms plus an oblique crossbar at the bottom. The latter recalls the support at the feet of the crucified Christ. The arms are closed by trilobed terminations that symbolize the Trinity, like the clover from which this cross originates.
Cross with trilobed arms
It is typical of the Russian Orthodox Church and is formed by two perpendicular arms plus an oblique crossbar at the bottom. The latter recalls the support at the feet of the crucified Christ. The arms are closed by trilobed terminations that symbolize the Trinity, like the clover from which this cross originates.

Russian cross

Also known as the Byzantine cross or the Orthodox cross, it has three horizontal crossbars: the first one at the top is the titulus Crucis, the tablet with the inscription of the condemnation of Jesus, the lower one, slightly oblique, the suppedaneum, the support of wood on which Jesus Christ crucified rested his feet. Born in the Byzantine context, it is the symbol of the Russian Orthodox Church and other Slavic churches.
Russian Cross
Also known as the Byzantine cross or the Orthodox cross, it has three horizontal crossbars: the first one at the top is the titulus Crucis, the tablet with the inscription of the condemnation of Jesus, the lower one, slightly oblique, the suppedaneum, the support of wood on which Jesus Christ crucified rested his feet. Born in the Byzantine context, it is the symbol of the Russian Orthodox Church and other Slavic churches.

Mariana cross

Used as heraldry by Pope John Paul II, it consists of a Latin cross and the letter M that symbolizes the Virgin Mary at the foot of the cross on Calvary.

Papal Cross or Triple Cross

Formed by a long longitudinal arm and three transverse arms. The three crossbars represent the triple role of the Pope:
  1. bishop of Rome;
  2. Patriarch of the West;
  3. the successor of the apostle San Pedro.
Usually, it is supported by the Lamb of God.

Crucifix of San Damián

It is the cross worshiped by Francis of Assisi, before which he received the Lord's request to repair his house. In it, Jesus is wounded, but also triumphant, determined and proud despite his suffering. In the head, it has an aura that encloses one more cross, a symbol of His imminent glory. The imposing figure of Jesus is surrounded by smaller figures, each with a precise symbolic meaning.
Crucifix of San Damián
It is the cross worshiped by Francis of Assisi, before which he received the Lord's request to repair his house. In it, Jesus is wounded, but also triumphant, determined and proud despite his suffering. In the head, it has an aura that encloses one more cross, a symbol of His imminent glory. The imposing figure of Jesus is surrounded by smaller figures, each with a precise symbolic meaning.

Saint Andrew's Cross

The cross of San Andrés (in Latin: crux decussata) has, unlike the other crosses, the arms placed diagonally. In practice, they form an X. It is said that St. Andrew the apostle knew martyrdom on a cross that had this shape.
Saint Andrew's Cross
The cross of San Andrés (in Latin: crux decussata) has, unlike the other crosses, the arms placed diagonally. In practice, they form an X. It is said that St. Andrew the apostle knew martyrdom on a cross that had this shape.
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