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Crucifix and Cross: The Different Types Crucifix and Cross: The Different Types
A Guide to Crucifixes and Crosses
Below are some of the common types of crucifixes and crosses with a brief explanation of their significance. Find the cross or crucifix that's right for you, your loved one, or your home or office. Most are available to be hung on the wall, with stands for display, on chains for necklaces, or as part of a rosary.
Latin or Christian
This is the basic crucifix or cross. The term "Latin" and "Christian" differentiates it from the symmetrical crosses used as symbols in non-Christian imagery: the crossbeams are offset higher as in the crosses used by the Romans for crucifixions, and, on which Jesus died.
The basic design consists of a Latin cross with a circle. Embellishments include interlacing patterns that range from simple to ornate. Legend has it that St. Patrick created this image by merging the Latin cross with the sun cross, a symbol recognized by the pagan Irish.
Popularized by Pope Paul VI and used by each succeeding pontiff, the crucifix that appears on this particular papal staff features a bent log as its crossbeam, symbolizing the weight of our sins that Jesus carried to the cross with Him.
These crucifixes have the symbolic St. Benedict medal embedded into it. The medal is inscribed with a Latin exorcism prayer that wards off the devil. It is also given to the dying to bring peace and happiness in their final hours.
This is the cross to which St. Francis of Assisi was praying when the Lord told him to rebuild the Church. Franciscans use this cross as the symbol of their mission. The original can be seen in the Basilica of St. Clare in Assisi, Italy.
These crosses and crucifixes were designed to fit in the hands to be held during prayer or meditation. It is usually made of wood from olives that grow in the Holy Land. It is also called a "holding cross."
Found in the Eastern Orthodox Church, this type of crucifix features two additional crossbeams standing for the INRI inscription and the footrest, although it is believed the lower crossbeam is a scale for the fate of the two thieves, one of them going to Heaven and the other to Hell.
This particular cross is named for the Greek letter it forms. It is most often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, who likened its shape to their monastic habit. Outside of Christianity, this symbol is associated with sacrifice and resurrection.