Types of Crosses, Page 3 (next)(return to "Types of Crosses" index)

latin crossLatin Cross: (also called a Western cross) A cross with a longer, descending arm, it represents the cross of Christ’s crucifixion.

lily crossLily Cross: In Christian symbolism, the lily is a viewed as a sign of Christ’s Resurrection, and is therefore the traditional flower of Easter. White lilies also represent purity and chastity, virtue and innocence, particularly in reference to Mary, the Mother of God. The Archangel Gabriel is painted presenting the Virgin Mary with a white lily when he announces to her that she is to bear the Son of God; and St. Joseph is sometimes pictured holding a lily, symbolic of Mary’s virginity.

methodist crossMethodist Cross: The cross and flame symbol of the Methodist cross has been the official emblem of the United Methodist Church since 1968, when the Evangelical United Brethren joined the Methodist Church.  The design is based on Christ’s Crucifixion and the descent of the Holy spirit at Pentecost: “And there appeared to them tongues as fire distributing themselves…” (Acts 2:3).

St. Michael crossSt Michael Cross:  In Hebrew, Michael means “like unto God.” or “who is like unto God”.  In the Eastern Church, St. Michael is known as Supreme Commander of the Heavenly Hosts.  He is the Defender of the Faith, and is invoked for protection by those who are in battle, and for defeat against enemies.  Some Christian traditions also know him as patron saint of policemen and policewomen, mariners, and those who are sick or suffering. 

St. Michael is frequently shown slaying the devil or a dragon, one representation of Satan.  He is also depicted as Chief Commander of the Heavenly Hosts, with a sword in one hand, a shield or spear in the other.  St. Michael’s feast day is celebrated on November 8 in the Eastern Church, and on September 20 in the West.

nail crossNail Cross: Quite similar to a Passion Cross, a nail cross generally features three or four “nails”.  Three represent the nails used during the Crucifixion.  With four, the three shorter ends symbolize nails; the fourth, longer end represents the spear that pierced Christ’s side.  Irregardless of the number of “nails”, this cross represents Christ’s Passion – the betrayal, scourging, mocking, and the agony of the Crucifixion. 

St. Olga crossSt Olga Cross: This is a Russian cross pendant that features a  St. Andrew cross on the front (also called three-bar or Eastern Orthodox cross), and "Spasi I sokhrani", Slavonic for "Protect and Save", inscribed on the back.  The starburst design at the top represents the light of Christ.  The Greek letters on the cross arms, "IC" and "XC" stand for Jesus Christ.

St. Olga, Equal to the Apostles, was the wife of Kievan Great Prince Igor.  When Igor was killed by the pagans (himself being one), Olga became the official ruler of Kiev Rus until her three year-old son reached adulthood.  During her reign, she fortified the defense of Russia and improved the domestic manner of life.  She was the first ruler to convert to Christianity, and devoted herself to evangelism and building churches.  She is commemorated on July 11.

passion crossPassion Cross:  Named for the Christ’s Passion - His betrayal, the scourging, mocking, and the agony of the Crucifixion; this cross features at least one sharpened tip.  Crosses with three pointed ends represent the nails used during the Crucifixion.  With four points, the three shorter ones symbolize nails; the fourth, longer end represents the spear that pierced Christ’s side. 

pattée crossPattée Cross: (pattée – French for “paw”; “la croix pattée – French for “footed cross”) A cross with splayed arm ends, narrower in the center and wider at the perimeter.  It is often associated with the Crusades, and with heraldry.

Phos Zoe crossPhos Zoe Cross: A Greek cross with equal arm lengths, "Phos” (“light”) and “Zoe” (“life") describe Jesus Christ, the Light and Life of the world.  The Greek letters are: phi (Φ), omega (Ω) and sigma (Ʃ), which spell phos; then zeta (Ζ), omega (Ω) and eta (Η), which spell zoe.

rope crossRope Cross: A rope cross typically features an “X” design in the center, representing rope that held together the cross upon which Christ was crucified.  This design symbolizes Christ’s voluntary Passion: His betrayal, scourging, mocking and the agony of the Crucifixion.

Crucifixion is a cruel, ancient, slow and torturous type of execution.  In some cases, such as that of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the condemned person had to carry the crossbeam on his shoulders to the place of execution.  A vertical post was fixed in the ground, and the crossbeam, possibly with the condemned nailed to it, would be attached to the post.  Legs were frequently broken, hastening death while deterring observers from committing offenses. 

rose crossRose of Sharon Cross:  The actual “rose of Sharon” is, according to many scholars, a type of crocus found in the coastal plain of Sharon.  Biblical reference is found in Song of Solomon 2:1, where the Schulamite woman refers to herself as “the rose of Sharon”.  In Christian symbolism, Jesus Christ is often referred to as the Rose of Sharon.  One can assume that the beauty, splendor and majesty of Christ, God incarnate, are at least one reason for this title.  In Orthodox tradition, Christ is referred to as “the unwithering rose”.

Some traditions also say that flower’s five petals are a reminder of the five wounds of Christ during His Passion (hands, feet and side).

Authored by Josie Long

For more information on styles of crosses and crucifixes, see our "Types of Crosses" guide

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