Thursday, September 16, 2010


From Symbols in Christian Art & Architecture:

Cross (Alpha & Omega)
This Latin cross combined with the alpha and omega remind us that though Christ died on the cross for our sins, he now reigns in glory forever. Season: The Sundays after Pentecost, also Ascension Sunday and Christ the King Sunday

Cross (Anchor)
The anchor ymbolizes the Christian's hope in Christ. This cross was also the emblem of St. Clement, Bishop of Rome, who according to tradition was tied to an anchor and tossed into the sea by the emperor Trajan. Hebr. 6:17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. (NIV)

Cross (Ankh)

See Ankh.

Cross (Baptismal)
This Greek cross is superimposed on a Greek "chi", the first letter of the Greek word for "Christ." It forms a cross with eight arms. Since the number eight is symbolic of rebirth or regeneration, this cross is often used as a baptismal cross.

Cross (Budded)
This widely used cross calls to mind the Trinity because of its trefoil end caps. Season: The Sundays aftter Pentecost

Cross (Byzantine)
The Byzantine cross is generally used by the Greek Orthodox Church.

Cross (Calvary, Graded)
The three steps leading up to this Latin cross represent the hill of Calvary or, more often, faith, hope and love. 1Cor. 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (NIV)

Cross (Celtic, Irish)
One of the most ancient of cruciforms, this cross was used by the Celtic Christians in Great Britain and Ireland. Season: All

Cross (Conqueror's, Victor's)
This Greek cross is complemented with the first and last letters of the Greek name for Jesus (IC), the first and last letters of the Greek word for Christ (XC), and the Greek word for Conqueror (NIKA). The short bars above the letters indicate that they are abbreviations. Season: All, esp. Easter, Ascension Sunday, Christ the King Sunday

Cross (Crosslet)
A cross formed of four smaller crosses, this form represents the spreading of the gospel to the four corners of the earth. This ornamental version rests on a lattice forming four additional crosses. Season: The Sundays after Pentecost

Cross (Eastern)
This form of the cross is used primarily in the Russian Orthodox Church. The upper bar represents the inscription, abbreviated "INRI", that Pilate had placed above Jesus' head. The meaning of the slanted bar is lost in legend. One story holds that Jesus' legs were of unequal length, another that the earthquake that came at His death caused the cross to tilt. Another explanation (probably the correct one) is that the slanted bar forms St. Andrew's cross. St. Andrew is believed to have introduced Christianity to Russia.

Cross (Embattled)
This heraldic cross calls to mind the battlements of a fortress or castle, and thus may be used as a symbol of the "church militant" (the church at war, as opposed to the church triumphant — those who have gone to be with the Lord).

Cross (Fleur-de-lis)
Much like the cross fleurie (below), this cross is a reminder of the Trinity and of the Resurrection. Season: Easter, The Sundays after Pentecost

Cross (Fleurie)
The liliform end caps of this cross remind us of the Trinity. Season: Easter, The Sundays after Pentecost

Cross (Graded)

See Cross (Calvary, Graded).

Cross (Greek)
An ancient cruciform with arms of equal length. Season: All
Cross (Huguenot)
This cross was adopted following the 1598 Edict of Nantes that granted French Protestants, known as Huguenots, certain civil rights and protections in a nation that was largely Roman Catholic. Based on a Maltese cross, the design includes eight round points that represent the Beatitudes, four fleur-de-lis with three petals each that represent the 12 Apostles, and a descending dove representing the Holy Spirit.

Cross (Ionic)
This is the form of the cross taken by St. Columba to the island of Iona in the sixth century. Season: All

Cross (Jerusalem, Crusader's, Fivefold)
This complex form is composed of a central cross made of four tau crosses representing the Old Testament law. The four smaller Greek crosses represent the fulfillment of the law in the gospel of Christ. Others have interpreted it to represent the missionary work of the church - spreading the gospel to the four corners of the earth. Still others have acknowledged the five crosses to represent the five wounds of Christ on the cross (hands, feet and side). The cross appeared on the coat-of-arms Godfrey of Bouillon, the first ruler of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. It was embodied in the heraldry of the Crusaders. Season: Pentecost, The Sundays after Pentecost

Cross (Latin)
This most common of all cruciforms reminds us of the supreme sacrifice offered by Jesus for the sins of the world. The cross is empty to remind us of the resurrection and the hope of eternal life. Season: All

Cross (Latin with Proclamation)
These Latin letters INRI stand for the inscription that Pilate ordered placed on Jesus' cross: "Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum" - Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. John 19:19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. (NIV)
Season: Holy Week, esp. Good Friday

Cross (Maltese)
The eight outer points of this cross are symbolic of regeneration. They are sometimes said to represent the eight beatitudes. The cross was the emblem of the Knights of St. John, who were driven from Rhodes to the island of Malta by the Turks. Malta is the island where St. Paul was shipwrecked.

Cross (Natal)
This cross is shaped like a star, reminding us of the story of Jesus' birth and foretelling the purpose for which he was born. Season: Advent, Epiphany

Cross (Papal)
This cross is the official emblem of the papal office. It may be used by none other than the Pope himself. The three bars are sometimes said to represent the three crosses on Calvary. More probably they represent the Pope's three realms of authority: the church, the world and heaven.

Cross (Passion)
The pointed ends of this Latin cross represent the suffering of Christ at his crucifixion. Season: Lent, esp. Holy Week

Cross (Patée)
This cross is often confused with the Maltese Cross.

Cross (Patriarchal)
This is an ecclesiastical cross that is often seen carried by the patriarchs in works of art. The upper bar represents the inscription placed on the cross by Pilate. It was adopted by cardinals and archbishops as a hierarchical distinction.

Cross (Pommée)
The knobs, resembling apples, represent the fruits of the Christian life. Since knobs were used on pastoral staffs in ancient times as symbols of authority, this is sometimes referred to as the Bishop's Cross.

Cross (St. Andrew's)
According to tradition, St. Andrew felt unworthy to be crucified like his Lord, so he begged that his cross be made differently. It is a symbol of humility and suffering.

Cross (Tau)
The tau cross, made from the Greek letter "T", is the simplest of all crosses. It is often used as the cross of prophecy, or Old Testament cross, because it is the traditional sign that Israelites made with lamb's blood on their doorposts in Egypt on the night of Passover. A tau cross is often pictured as the pole on which Moses lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness. Season: Advent

Cross (Trinity)
This cross, with three fleur-de-lis at each point, is a reminder of the Trinity. Season: The Sundays after Pentecost

Cross (Triumphant, of Victory, & Orb)
This cross symbolizes the final triumph and reign of Christ over the world. It is often used in Christian art atop the scepter of Jesus as He reigns in glory. Season: Christ the King Sunday