Know the spiritual truths that each cross transmits
Throughout the history of the Church, Christians visually represented the cross in different ways. In each case, the cross is slightly different and used to symbolize different spiritual truths.
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Here, there are five crosses that have been used over the centuries by Christians around the world.
This cross is used officially to represent the Pope. The three-tiered cross resembles the Papal Tiara – a reference to the triple office of Christ: priest, prophet, and king.
Most common in Ireland, the Celtic Cross is composed of a typical Christian cross placed in front of a circle. Although its exact origin is unknown, many link it to St. Patrick and claim that he cast it to convert pagans. The cross stood in front of the sun – worshiped by the pagans – showing the supremacy of Christ over the natural world. Furthermore, he recalls that Christ is the only source of light and life. Sometimes it is also called Cruz do Sol.
Cross of Saint Andrew
It was created to symbolize the cross on which St. Andrew the Apostle was killed. Tradition tells us that St. Andrew asked to be crucified on this type of cross, because he felt unworthy to be crucified in the same way as Christ.
St. Peter’s Cross
It has a similar origin to the cross of Saint Andrew. Peter also did not want to be crucified in the same way of the Savior and asked to be put upside down on the cross. For this reason, this cross is used to represent humility. He sometimes refers to the pope, who is the successor of St. Peter.
It is used even today in Orthodox / Byzantine Christian churches. The upper bar represents the plaque nailed to the top of the cross by Pilate (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews). The second bar represents the horizontal board on which the hands of Jesus were nailed. The third bar symbolizes the footrest that would have been used to support Jesus’ feet. It is tilted in acknowledgment that Christ has promised paradise to the good thief crucified on His right side. Orthodox liturgy refers to this symbolism on Fridays:
“In between, between two thieves, his Cross was found as the balancing beam of justice; while one was carried to hell by the burden of his blasphemy, the other was enlightened from his sins unto the knowledge of divine things. “