Types of Crosses, Page 4 (return to "Types of Crosses" index)

shroud crossShroud Cross: (also called Draped or Resurrection Cross) An image of Christ’s shroud is draped over the arms of this cross, signifying that, while Jesus Christ died on the Cross, He rose from the dead, leaving his burial wrappings in the tomb.

“And Joseph [of Arimathea] bought a linen sheet, and took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb…  And when the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him…  And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.  And he said to them, ‘Do not be amazed: you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified.  He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.’” (Mark 15:46-16:6).

sunburst crossSunburst Cross: (also called Glory Cross) The sunburst design is typically on a simple, Latin cross, so that the sunburst, or light, remains the prominent feature.  The design is representative of Christ’s glorious Resurrection.

star crossStar Cross:  (also called Bethlehem, Nativity or Christmas Star Cross) This is a star-shaped cross with tapered ends, representing the Bethlehem, or Nativity Star, which led the magi to the birthplace of Jesus Christ.  This is celebrated in Western Christianity on Epiphany, January 6.

“And having heard the king, they went their way; and lo, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over where the Child was.  And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshipped Him; and opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:9-11).

tau crossTau Cross: See Franciscan Tau Cross

thorn crossThorn Cross: Religious jewelry sometimes is fashioned with a thorns motif to represent the woven crown of thorns that was placed on the head of Christ during His Passion.  This design is a reminder of Christ’s sacrificial love for humanity. 

The first scriptural reference to “thorns” is related to the Fall of man, when God banished Adam and Eve from the garden: “Both thorns and thistles it [the ground] shall grow for you…” (Genesis 3:18).

As thorns came as a result of the Fall, so were thorns used in Christ’s Passion, leading to His death and Resurrection, and our redemption: “And they stripped Him, and put a scarlet robe on Him.  And after weaving a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they kneeled down before Him and mocked Him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’” (Matthew 27:29). 

three bar crossThree-Bar Cross: This cross has three cross bars: the top symbolizing the placard on which was written the charge against Christ. The middle bar is where the hands of Christ were nailed, and the lower one represents a footrest. See also the St. Andrew Cross which depicts a slanted footrest.

trefoil crossTrefoil Cross: (from Latin trefoilim, three-leaved plant) In Christian symbolism, the three-petaled ends of this cross represent the Trinity: God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

vine crossVine Cross:  Cross pendants that are designed with a vine motif symbolize the Christian’s union with Christ, as related in John 15: 1-8.  “Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15: 4-5).

wedding crossWedding Cross:  Wedding crosses generally feature two, interlocking rings or hearts, which symbolize a couple’s commitment and love for each other.  The cross itself is not only a reminder of the foundation of their marriage, Jesus Christ; it is also a reminder of the self-sacrifice that is required in marriage, and of Christ’s call to bear one another’s burdens.

The Biblical reference is the wedding in Cana, recorded in John 2: 1-11, where, as the host was about to run out of wine, Christ turned water into wine.  This was the first of Christ’s miracles: “This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.” (John 2:11).  This event is also significant to Christians as God’s approval of the state of matrimony.

wheat crossWheat Cross:  Cross pendants with a wheat design are symbolic of Christ as the Bread of Life, as related in John 6: 48-58): “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35).  The wheat motiff is also representative of the spreading of the word of God and the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 13:1-43).

widow's mite crossWidow’s Mite Cross:  These cross pendants feature a “widow’s mite”, a genuine excavated coin from first century Palestine.  Lepton in Greek, this was the smallest and least valuable coin in circulation.  The widow’s mite design is a reminder that sacrifices, however small, given from the heart gain great spiritual value.  “And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury.  And He saw a certain poor widow putting in two small copper coins.  And He said, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of poverty put in all that she had to live on.’” (Luke 21:1-4). 

St. Xenia CrossSt Xenia Cross:  The design of the St. Xenia cross conveys rich symbolism, beginning with the St. Andrew’s cross that adorns the center (see St. Andrew’s cross for more information). The Greek letters, “IC” and “XC”, an abbreviation for “Jesus Christ” are on the arms. The descending dove represents the Holy Spirit; the vine motif at the base is symbolic of the Cross as the Tree of Life, God’s reconciliation and restoration of fallen mankind to Himself in Paradise.

St. Xenia of Petersburg, wife of Colonel Andrei Feodorovich Petrov, a court chorister, was widowed at age 26. After Andrei was buried, she eventually gave her possessions to the poor and wandered the streets of St. Petersburg, dressing only in the clothing of her late husband. Calling herself by her husband’s name, she centered her life on God, doing good for others as she offered her good works and indeed, her very life, as almsgiving on behalf of her huband. Refusing assistance from relatives, her acceptance of services and food from merchants brought them good business, as their customers, who loved St. Xenia, frequented those merchants who helped the saint.

St. Xenia had the gift of clairvoyance, and after her death, her grave became a place of pilgrimage. She is known as an intercessor for those with marital problems, those without a home or a job, those with illness or mental disorders. Her feast day is celebrated Jan. 24, New Calendar, and Feb. 4, Old Calendar.

Authored by Josie Long

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

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