Christian cross variants

This is a list of Christian cross variants. The Christian cross, with or without a figure of Christ included, is the main religious symbol of Christianity. A cross with a figure of Christ affixed to it is termed a crucifix and the figure is often referred to as the corpus (Latin for "body").

The term Greek cross designates a cross with arms of equal length, as in a plus sign, while the Latin cross designates a cross with an elongated descending arm. Numerous other variants have been developed during the medieval period.

Christian crosses are used widely in churches, on top of church buildings, on bibles, in heraldry, in personal jewelry, on hilltops, and elsewhere as an attestation or other symbol of Christianity. Crosses are a prominent feature of Christian cemeteries, either carved on gravestones or as sculpted stelae. Because of this, planting small crosses is sometimes used in countries of Christian culture to mark the site of fatal accidents, or, such as the Zugspitze or Mount Royal, so as to be visible over the entire surrounding area. Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran depictions of the cross are often crucifixes, in order to emphasize that it is Jesus that is important, rather than the cross in isolation. Large crucifixes are a prominent feature of some Lutheran churches, as illustrated in the article Rood. However, some other Protestant traditions depict the cross without the corpus, interpreting this form as an indication of belief in the resurrection rather than as representing the interval between the death and the resurrection of Jesus.

Several Christian cross variants are available in computer-displayed text. The Latin cross symbol ("✝") is included in the unicode character set as "271D". For others, see Religious and political symbols in Unicode.

Cross (PSF)
Christian cross variants
7th-century Byzantine solidus, showing Leontius holding a globus cruciger, with a stepped cross on the obverse side
Seal of Niketas, commander of the Imperial Fleet
Double-barred cross symbol as used in a 9th-century Byzantine seal

List of variants

Basic forms

Basic variants, or early variants widespread since antiquity.

Image Name Description
Greek cross Greek cross With arms of equal length. One of the most common Christian forms, in common use by the 4th century.
Christian cross Latin (or Roman) cross Cross with a longer descending arm. Along with the Greek cross, it is the most common form. It represents the cross of Jesus' crucifixion.
ByzantineCross Byzantine cross Latin cross with outwardly widening ends. It was the most common cross in the Byzantine Empire.
PatriarchsCross Patriarchal cross (three-bar cross) Also called an archiepiscopal cross or a crux gemina. A double cross, with the two crossbars near the top. The upper one is shorter, representing the plaque nailed to Jesus' cross. Similar to the Cross of Lorraine, though in the original version of the latter, the bottom arm is lower. The Eastern Orthodox cross adds a slanted bar near the foot.
Double cross Double cross The Cross of the eight-point cross-stone ceremony. It is a symbol of revival and is similar to the Greek word "XI" (the capital letter of the word Christ).
Two-bar cross Cross of Lorraine (two-barred cross) The Cross of Lorraine consists of one vertical and two horizontal bars. The two-barred cross consists of a vertical line crossed by two shorter horizontal bars. In most renditions, the horizontal bars are "graded" with the upper bar being the shorter, though variations with the bars of equal length are also seen.
PopesCross Papal cross A cross with three bars near the top. The bars are of unequal length, each one shorter than the one below.
CrossOfSalem Cross of Salem Also known as a pontifical cross because it is carried before the Pope, is similar to a patriarchal cross, but with an additional crossbar below the main crossbar, equal in length to the upper crossbar.
Staurogram Monogrammatic Cross, or Staurogram or Tau-Rho Cross The earlier visual image of the cross, already present in New Testament manuscripts as P66, P45 and P75.[1]
Simple Labarum Chi Rho/Chrismon/Labarum The Chi Rho (/ˈkaɪ ˈroʊ/; also known as chrismon) is one of the earliest forms of christogram, formed by superimposing the first two (capital) letters—chi and rho (ΧΡ)—of the Greek word ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ (Christos) in such a way that the vertical stroke of the rho intersects the center of the chi.
Calvary cross Stepped cross A cross resting on a base with three steps, also called a graded or a Calvary cross.
Jerusalem cross Jerusalem Cross Also known as the Crusader's Cross. A large cross with a smaller cross in each of its angles. It was used as a symbol of the kingdom of Jerusalem
Simple crossed circle Ringed cross A cross featuring a ring or nimbus. This type has several variants, including the cruciform halo and the Celtic cross.[2]

Association with saints

Image Name Description
Peter's Cross Cross of Saint Peter A cross with the crossbeam placed near the foot, that is associated with Saint Peter because of the tradition that he was crucified head down.
Te cross Tau cross A T-shaped cross. Also called the Saint Anthony's cross, the Saint Francis' cross and crux commissa.
Saint Andrew's cross Saltire or crux decussata (Saint Andrew's cross) An X-shaped cross associated with St. Andrew, patron of Scotland, and so a national symbol of that country. The shape is that of the cross on which Saint Andrew is said to have been martyred. Also known as St. Andrew's Cross or Andrew Cross.
Cross of Brigid Brigid's cross Bride's cross, also known as Brigid's cross or Brighid's cross, these are usually woven of rushes, wheat stalks or similar. They can be Christian or Pagan symbols, depending on context.
Cross of Saint George Saint George's Cross Sometimes associated with Saint George, the military saint, often depicted as a crusader from the Late Middle Ages, the cross has appeared on many flags, emblems, standards, and coats of arms. A notable use is on the Flag of England. Its first documented use was as the ensign of the Republic of Genoa, whereafter it was used successively by crusaders.
Mariner's Cross Mariner's cross (St. Clement's cross) The mariner's cross is also referred to as Saint Clement's Cross in reference to the way he was martyred.
Pectoral Cross of St Cuthbert Pectoral cross of Cuthbert Cuthbert was originally a Celtic Christian. That connection, plus the similarity in shape, gives this cross the alternative name; Thor's Cross
Portate cross Cross of Saint Gilbert (Portate cross) A cross is usually shown erect, as it would be when used for crucifixion. The Portate Cross differs in that it is borne diagonally, as it would be when the victim bears the cross-bar over his shoulder as he drags it along the ground to the crucifixion site.
Cross Santiago Cross of Saint James A red Cross of Saint James with flourished arms, surmounted with an escallop, was the emblem of the twelfth-century Spanish military Order of Santiago, named after Saint James the Greater.
Saint Julian's cross Saint Julian Cross A Cross Crosslet tilted at 45 degrees with the tops pointing to the 'four corners of the world'. The image of Christianity being spread all around the world is one reason why this cross is sometimes referred to as the Missionary Cross.
Grapevine cross Grapevine cross (Saint Nino's cross) Also known as the cross of Saint Nino of Cappadocia, who Christianised Georgia.
Nasrani cross Saint Thomas Cross The ancient cross used by Saint Thomas Christians (also known as Syrian Christians or Nasrani) in Kerala, India.[3]
Phillip cross Cross of Saint Philip A sideways cross associated with Phillip the Apostle.
Cross of Saint Florian FlorianCross 2 Cross of Saint Florian The cross of Saint Florian, patron saint of firefighters, is often confused with the Maltese Cross (for example, the New York City Fire Department so calls it); although it may have eight or more points, it also has large curved arcs between the points.
Catherine wheel Catherine wheel Seven Catherines have been granted sainthood. This cross is composed of wagon wheels and is attributed to (at least) three saints: Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Saint Jarlath and Saint Quentin.
Cross of Saint John Cross of Saint John A Latin cross with the crossing point, starting initially as wide permanent and widening only at its end to the outside arms. It is not to be confused with the Maltese cross, also known as the St. John's cross. In heraldry, it is a common figure in coat of arms.
Cross of Saint Chad Cross of Saint Chad The cross is a combination of a Potent Cross and Quadrate Cross, which appears in the arms of the episcopal see of Lichfield & Coventry.
Cross of Saint Lazarus Cross of Lazarus A cross with the ends of the arms bottonee (or botonny, i.e. "furnished with knobs or buttons"), sometimes called a cross trefly, as the ends are shaped like a trefoil. When combined with a green Maltese cross, it forms the insignia of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus.

Confessional or regional variants

Image Name Description
Armcross Armenian cross Symbol of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and a typical feature of khachkars. Also known as the "Blooming Cross" owing to the trefoil emblems at the ends of each branch.
Bolnisi cross Bolnisi cross Ancient Georgian cross and national symbol from the 5th century AD.
Caucasian Albanian Cross Caucasian Albanian cross Ancient Caucasian Albanian cross and national symbol from the 4th century AD.
Armenian Catholicossate of Cilicia - khatchkar Armenian cross-stone (Khachkar) A khachkar (cross-stone) is a popular symbol of Armenians.
Cantercross Canterbury cross A cross with four arms of equal length which widen to a hammer shape at the outside ends. Each arm has a triangular panel inscribed in a triquetra (three-cornered knot) pattern. There is a small square panel in the center of the cross. A symbol of the Anglican and Episcopal Churches.

Celtic Cross Essentially a Greek or Latin cross, with a circle enclosing the intersection of the upright and crossbar, as in the standing High crosses.
Croix copte égyptienne Coptic ankh Shaped like the letter T surmounted by an oval or circle. Originally the Egyptian symbol for "life", it was adopted by the Copts (Egyptian Christians). Also called a crux ansata, meaning "cross with a handle".
Coptic-Cross Coptic cross The original Coptic cross has its origin in the Coptic ankh. As depicted in Rudolf Koch's The Book of Signs (1933).
Coptic Cross monochrome New Coptic Cross This new Coptic Cross is the cross currently used by the Coptic Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. It evolved from the older Coptic Crosses depicted above. A gallery of Coptic Crosses can be found here.
Crosscrown Crosscrown 2 Cross and Crown A Christian symbol used by various Christian denominations, particularly the Bible Student Movement and the Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Science). It has also been used in heraldry. The emblem is often interpreted as symbolizing the reward in heaven (the crown) coming after the trials in this life (the cross) (James 1:12).
Eastern Syriac Cross East Syrian cross Syriac Orthodox cross.
Western Syriac Cross East Syrian cross Syriac Orthodox cross.
Original Coptic cross Gnostic cross Cross used by the early Gnostic sects.
Maltese cross Maltese cross An eight-pointed cross having the form of four "V"-shaped elements, each joining the others at its vertex, leaving the other two tips spread outward symmetrically. It is the cross symbol associated with the Order of St. John since the Middle Ages, shared with the traditional Knights Hospitaller and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and by extension with the island of Malta.
Maronite Cross Maronite cross Cross of the Syriac Maronite Church
Cathayan Nestorian Cross 1 Nestorian cross In Eastern Christian art found on tombs in China, these crosses are sometimes simplified and depicted as resting on a lotus flower or on a stylized cloud.
Cathar cross Occitan cross Based on the counts of Toulouse's traditional coat of arms, it soon became the symbol of Occitania as a whole.
Triquetra-Cross Triquetra-Cross-alternate "Carolingian cross" Cross of triquetras, called "Carolingian" by Rudolf Koch for its appearance in Carolingian-era art.[4]
Rose Cross Rose Cross A cross with a rose blooming at the center. The central symbol to all groups embracing the philosophy of the Rosicrucians.
Serbian Cross1 Serbian cross A Greek cross with 4 Cyrillic S's (C) in each of its angles, which represent the imperial motto of the Palaiologos dynasty when he resurrected the Byzantine Empire: King of Kings, Ruling Over Kings (βασιλεὺς βασιλέων, βασιλεύων βασιλευόντων - Basileus Basileōn, Basileuōn Basileuontōn). A national symbol of Serbia and symbol of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Early Trinity Shield Shield of the Trinity Early variant of the Trinity Shield with the Christian cross on the bottom portion.

Russian cross

Suppedaneum cross Also known as Russian cross, Slavic or Slavonic cross. A three-barred cross in which the short top bar represents the inscription over Jesus' head, and the lowest (usually slanting) short bar, placed near the foot, represents his footrest (in Latin, suppedaneum). This cross existed in a slightly different form (with the bottom crossbeam pointing upwards) in Byzantium, and it was changed and adopted by the Russian Orthodox Church and especially popularized in the East Slavic countries.
Macedonian cross Macedonian Cross, also known as Veljusa Cross. Macedonian Christian symbol, symbol of the Macedonian Orthodox Church.
Anuradhapura Cross-Vector Anuradhapura cross A symbol of Christianity in Sri Lanka.
Generic Nordic Cross

3-Color Generic Nordic Cross
Nordic cross/Scandinavian cross The cross design represents Christianity, and the characteristic shift of the center to the hoist side is early modern, first described as the Danish civil ensign (Koffardiflaget) for merchant ships in a regulation of 11 June 1748, which specified the shift of the cross center towards the hoist as "the two first fields must be square in form and the two outer fields must be 6/4 lengths of those".

Modern innovations

Image Name Description
Marian Cross Marian Cross A term invented to refer to Pope John Paul II's combination of a Latin cross and the letter M, representing Mary being present on Calvary.
Christian Universalist symbol Off Center Cross of Christian Universalism. The off-center cross was invented in late April, 1946, in a hotel room in Akron, Ohio, during the Universalist General Assembly, where a number of Universalist ministers pooled their ideas.[5]
Symbol budynku kościelnego.png
Ordnance Survey cross symbols Used on Ordnance Survey maps to represent churches and chapels. A cross on a filled square represents a church with a tower; and a cross on a filled circle represents a church with a spire. Churches without towers or spires are represented by plain Greek crosses. These symbols also now refer to non-Christian places of worship, and the cross on a filled circle also represents a place of worship with a minaret or dome.[6]

Types of artifacts

Image Name Description
Small crucifix Crucifix A cross with a representation of Jesus' body hanging from it. It is primarily used in Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox churches (where the figure is painted), and it emphasizes Christ's sacrifice— his death by crucifixion.
Echmiatsin altair Altar cross A cross on a flat base to rest upon the altar of a church. The earliest known representation of an altar cross appears in a miniature in a 9th-century manuscript. By the 10th century such crosses were in common use, but the earliest extant altar cross is a 12th-century one in the Great Lavra on Mt. Athos. Mass in the Roman Rite requires the presence of a cross (more exactly, a crucifix) "on or close to" the altar.[7] Accordingly, the required cross may rest on the reredos rather than on the altar, or it may be on the wall behind the altar or be suspended above the altar.
AbunaPaulos Blessing cross Used by priests of the Eastern Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches to bestow blessings upon the faithful.
Krest yuri fedorov Cross necklace A small cross or crucifix worn as a pendant on a necklace.
Muiredach s Cross High cross A large stone cross that is richly decorated. From the 19th century, many large modern versions have been erected for various functions, and smaller Celtic crosses have become popular for individual grave monuments, usually featuring only abstract ornament, usually interlace.
Kirkkoliput Processional cross Used to lead religious processions; sometimes, after the procession it is placed behind the altar to serve as an altar cross.
Cruz de Asturias Crux gemmata A cross inlaid with gems. Denotes a glorification of the cross, this form was inspired by the cult of the cross that arose after Saint Helena's discovery of the True Cross in Jerusalem in 327.
Cardinal Ranjith Pectoral cross A large cross worn in front of the chest (in Latin, pectus) by some clergy.
Gotland-Stenkumla-Kirche 09 Rood Large crucifix high in a church; most medieval Western churches had one, often with figures of the Virgin Mary and John the Evangelist alongside, and often mounted on a rood screen
Heraldic Globus cruciger Globus cruciger Globe cross. An orb surmounted by a cross; used in royal regalia.

See also


  1. ^ Hutado, Larry (2006). "The staurogram in early Christian manuscripts: the earliest visual reference to the crucified Jesus?". In Kraus, Thomas (ed.). New Testament Manuscripts. Leiden: Brill. pp. 207–26. ISBN 978-90-04-14945-8.
  2. ^ Herren, Michael W.; Brown, Shirley Ann (2002). Christ in Celtic Christianity: Britain and Ireland from the Fifth to the Tenth Century. Boydell Press. p. 192–200. ISBN 0851158897.
  3. ^ "NSC NETWORK – Analogical review on Saint Thomas Cross- The symbol of Nasranis-Interpretation of the Inscriptions". Retrieved 2011-12-10.
  4. ^ Rudolf Koch, Christliche Symbole (1932)
  5. ^ accessed on 2012-04-21
  6. ^ Ordnance Survey map legend, accessed 13 May 2016
  7. ^ "General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 117" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-12-10.
Anchored Cross

The anchored cross, or mariner's cross, is a stylized cross in the shape of an anchor. It is a symbol which is shaped like a plus sign with anchor-like protrusions at the end of each arm, hence the name. The symbol can be used to signify 'fresh start' or 'hope', as in The Bible, Hebrews 6.19: "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil".The mariner's cross is also referred to as St. Clement's Cross in reference to the way he was martyred.

Archiepiscopal cross

An archiepiscopal cross (archbishop's cross) is a two-barred cross used by or to signify or dignify an archbishop. Similar to the patriarchal cross, it is typically made like a staff with the two barred cross up top and a very long downwards extending arm.

Armenian Cross

An Armenian cross is a symbol that combines a cross with a floral postament or elements. In the Armenian Christianity it was combined with the Christian cross and this design was often used for high crosses (khachkar) – a free-standing cross made of stone and often richly decorated.


The Balkenkreuz (lit. "beam cross" or "bar cross")

is a straight-armed cross that was the emblem of the Wehrmacht (German Armed Forces) and its branches from 1935 until the end of World War II. It was used by the Heer (Army), Luftwaffe (Air Force), and Kriegsmarine (Navy).

Bolnisi cross

The Bolnisi cross (Georgian: ბოლნისის ჯვარი bolnisis ǰvari) is a cross symbol, taken from a 5th-century ornament at the Bolnisi Sioni church, which came to be used as a national symbol of Georgia.

It is a variant of the Cross pattée popular in Christian symbolism of late antiquity and the early medieval period. The same symbol gave rise to cross variants used during the Crusades, the Maltese cross of the Knights Hospitaller and (via the Jerusalem cross and the Black cross of the Teutonic Order) the Iron cross used by the German military.

The four small crosses used in the Georgian Flag are officially described as bolnur-kac'xuri (bolnur-katskhuri, ბოლნურ-კაცხური) even though they are only slightly pattée.

Carolingian cross

The Carolingian cross, or Cross of triquetras, is a Christian cross symbol formed by triquetras, associated with Emperor Charlemagne of the Holy Roman Empire.

Celtic cross

The Celtic cross is a form of Christian cross featuring a nimbus or ring that emerged in Ireland and Britain in the Early Middle Ages. A type of ringed cross, it became widespread through its use in the stone high crosses erected across the islands, especially in regions evangelized by Irish missionaries, from the 9th through the 12th centuries.

A staple of Insular art, the Celtic cross is essentially a Latin cross with a nimbus surrounding the intersection of the arms and stem. Scholars have debated its exact origins, but it is related to earlier crosses featuring rings. The form gained new popularity during the Celtic Revival of the 19th century; the name "Celtic cross" is a convention dating from that time. The shape, usually decorated with interlace and other motifs from Insular art, became popular for funerary monuments and other uses, and has remained so, spreading well beyond Ireland.


Cercelée, or Sarcelly, is a term in heraldry. A cross cercelée is like an exaggerated cross moline, and to a lesser extent similar to the anchored cross, with its forked tips curving around both ways, like a ram's horns. The form is also known as recercelée, for example by Boutell.

Christian cross

The Christian cross, seen as a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus, is the best-known symbol of Christianity. It is related to the crucifix (a cross that includes a corpus, usually a three-dimensional representation of Jesus' body) and to the more general family of cross symbols, the term cross itself being detached from the original specifically Christian meaning in modern English (as in many other western languages).The basic forms of the cross are the Latin cross with unequal arms (✝) and the Greek cross (✚) with equal arms, besides numerous variants, partly with confessional significance, such as the tau cross, the double-barred cross, triple-barred cross, cross-and-crosslets, and many heraldic variants, such as the cross potent, cross pattée, cross moline, cross fleury, etc.

Conciliation cross

A conciliation cross was a stone cross, which was set up in place where a murder or accident had happened. These memorial crosses are mostly located in central and western Europe.

In medieval times, conciliation crosses were sometimes handmade by the murderer as a symbol of conciliation with the family of his victim. Conciliation crosses were also located in places where some accident, disaster or epidemic had happened.

In the Czech Republic, much evidence of Czech conciliation crosses is located in the town of Aš. The number of documented Czech crosses is more than 2300.

Coptic cross

The term Coptic cross may refer to a number of Christian cross variants associated in some way with Coptic Christians.

"Coptic crosses" are often shown with arms dividing into three points each (also called "Ethiopian cross" or "Axum cross";

Liungman (2004) shows a symmetrical cross fleury. Bertran de la Farge (in La Croix occitane) identifies a cross crosslet as "croix copte (4ème siècle)" and cites it as a predecessor of the Occitan cross somewhere in the marquisate of Provence, probably Venasque. Old Coptic crosses often incorporate a circle, as in the form called a "Coptic cross" by Rudolf Koch in his The Book of Signs (1933). Sometimes the arms of the cross extend through the circle (dividing it into four quadrants), as in the "Celtic cross".


A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two intersecting lines or bars, usually perpendicular to each other. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally.

A cross of oblique lines, in the shape of the Latin letter X, is also termed a saltire in heraldic terminology.

Cross fleury

A cross fleury (or flory) is a cross adorned at the ends with flowers in heraldry. It generally contains the fleur-de-lis, trefoils, etc. Synonyms or minor variants include fleuretty, fleuronny, floriated and flourished.

In early armory it is not consistently distinguished from the cross patonce.

Cross of Salem

The Cross of Salem, also known as a pontifical cross because it is carried before the Pope, is similar to a patriarchal cross, but with an additional crossbar below the main crossbar, equal in length to the upper crossbar. It is also similar to the Eastern Cross. Also used by the supreme leadership of Freemasonry.

IX monogram

The IX monogram or XI monogram is a type of early Christian monogram looking like the spokes of a wheel, sometimes within a circle.The IX monogram is formed by the combination of the letter "I" or Iota for IHSOYS (Ιησους, Jesus in Greek) and "X" or Chi for XPISTOS (Χριστος, Christ in Greek). The spokes can also be stand-alone, without the circle. These monograms can often be found as ancient burial inscriptions.

Latin cross

A Latin cross or Crux immissa is a type of cross in which the vertical beam sticks above the crossbeam. This is the main representation of the cross by which Jesus Christ was crucified. The Latin cross began as a Roman Catholic emblem but later became a universal symbol of Christianity. If displayed upside down it is called St. Peter's Cross because he was reputedly executed on this type of cross. When displayed sideways it is called St. Philip's cross for the same reason.A Latin cross plan is a floor plan found in many cathedrals and churches. When looked at from above or in plan view it takes the shape of a Latin cross (crux immissa). The Latin cross plans have a nave with aisles or chapels, or both and a transept that forms the arms of the cross. It also has at least one apse that traditionally faces east. Many also have a narthex at the entry.

Marian Cross

A Marian Cross is a term to describe a symbolic representation of the close connection of Mary, with the redemptive mission of Jesus. The letter "M" below the cross indicates Mary's presence at the foot of the cross.

Mission cross

A mission cross (German: Missionskreuz) recalls the popular missions (Volksmissionen) of former centuries in Europe, although there are more recent ones.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, small groups of two or three padres of the Jesuit order went from parish to parish. They often stayed for several weeks as part of a "people's mission" with the aim of "renewing the faith of the Christian people" as, for example, the 1954 statues of the Bishopric of Aachen commemorate. That was the task of the Jesuit priests even in the 18th century, albeit probably stated differently. In the following centuries, regular missions were undertaken, later also by members of other orders.

The padres held numerous events, masses and sermons - formerly delivered separately to men and married women, single adults, young people, and children - as well as times of worship, confession, house visits and other activities.

The years when the popular mission weeks were undertaken are usually shown on 20th century mission crosses.

See also

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