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The Cross and all Its Glorious Variations

The Cross and all Its Glorious Variations


Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Matthew 10:24 – 25 (NIV)


The cross is undeniably the most famous and most used symbol for the Christian faith. It represents the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ in His crucifixion that resulted in the salvation of many people. An instrument that is being used for terrible torture and punishment has become a symbol of love, of hope, of faith for the risen Savior. Indeed, because of what Jesus did on the cross, the killing device became an emblem of life!


Because of the popularity of the cross in the Christian faith, different variations of it have been used throughout the centuries. Here are some of the variants of the cross and its origin and its meaning:


This cross has four equal arms. It is also called crux quadrata. It is also not originally intended to represent the cross that was used in the crucifixion of Christ. Instead, it represents various objects like the four directions of the earth, the spread of the gospel and the four elements.



This is also one of the most common forms of cross. It has a longer arm on the bottom and it’s also called crux ordinaria. Though this cross is a widely known symbol of Christianity, it was already used as a pagan symbol centuries or millennia before the Christianity has been founded. Still, it is a really popular symbol to represent the Christian faith. It usually has a simple and plain design in order to emphasize not the figure but the message of resurrection.


It is also called monogrammatic cross or tau-rho cross. The visual image of this cross has been proven to be already included in writing of New Testament manuscripts. This cross is composed of a tau (T) and rho (P), hence the name tau-rho cross. It is commonly associated as a symbol of salvation due to the meaning of tau which refers to the cross and rho which refers to the Greek word help. Because of this it could be loosely interpreted as the ‘Cross Saves’.



The three steps on the bottom of the Calvary Cross represents the Golgotha, a small hill located in Jerusalem, it is the place where the Lord Jesus Christ has suffered and has been crucified. That is why it is also called a Stepped Cross. The steps on the cross can also represent faith that is based on hope, hope that is based in love and love.


Also called a two-bar cross or crux gemina. The shorter bar on the upper portion of the horizontal beam represents the inscription that was put above the head of Jesus when He was crucified reading “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” which was ordered by Pilate. Other symbolisms for the two cross bars were brought forward. One explained that the two bars represent death and resurrection. This cross is being used to denote the status of being a patriarch which in the Catholic church is equivalent to being an archbishop.



A three-bar cross which is being used as a symbol of the Pope’s office. This cross can also be referenced to the Patriarchal Cross that is being used to denote the office of the archbishop. The three bars has different meanings such as the pope’s role as worship leader, teacher and community leader, the pope’s power temporal, spiritual and material and having an extra bar as opposed to the crux gemina denoting a higher authority than the archbishop.



This cross is also known as ‘Crusader Cross’. It is a cross that represents the Jerusalem Kingdom and was used around the first millenia. It includes a potent cross which represents Christ and four smaller cross that represents the four gospel authors, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. There has also been other variation in the meaning of the central cross and the smaller crosses.




Another cross with three bars. The term suppedaneum a combination of Latin words, ‘sub’ which means under, ‘ped’ which means foot and aneum which is a generic term that is normally added to Latin words. The same with the Papal Cross, the bar on the tap represents the inscription over Jesus’ head while the slanting bar at the bottom represents the footrest.


These are only but a few of the various types of cross that is being used all around the world today. Some represents the belief of Christianity while others symbolized other religion or belief system. Despite the fact that the cross is not exclusive in the faith of Judeo-Christianity, the truth still remains that the cross, an instrument that was used to kill criminals in the most horrible, painful and excruciating way is a central symbol of the believers of Christ Jesus.


In the end, a symbol is just a symbol. What is really important is the message that the symbol communicates. What is essential is to always remember the truths and the results that the symbol wants to communicate to us. The cross without Christ is just another ancient relic. But because of what Jesus did, the cross which the ancient world of the Roman Empire equates to death now show us the way to a life that is abundantly full. Look past the cross, look to the man who was crucified in it, look to His salvation and what He wants to give you!

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