Religious symbolism and iconography
Crossthe faith symbol of the Christian religionrecalling the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the redeeming benefits of his Passion and death. The cross is thus a both of Christ himself and of the faith of Christians. In ceremonial usage, making a of the cross may be, according to the contextan act of profession of faith, a prayer, a dedication, or a benediction. There are four basic types of iconographic representations of the cross: the crux quadrataor Greek christianwith four equal arms; the crux immissaor Latin crosswhose base stem is longer than the other three arms; the crux commissain the form of the Greek letter tau, sometimes called St.
Andrew the Apostle. Tradition symbols the crux immissa as that on which Christ died, but some believe that it was a crux commissa.
The nature of religious symbols and symbolization
The many variations and ornamentations of processional, altar, and heraldic crosses, of carved and painted crosses in churches, graveyards, and elsewhere, are developments of these four types. Cross forms were used as symbols, religious or otherwise, long before the Christian Era, but it is not always clear whether they were simply symbols of identification or possession or were ificant for belief and worship.
Two pre-Christian cross forms have had some vogue in Christian usage. The ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol of life—the ankha tau cross surmounted by a loop and known as crux ansata —was adopted and extensively used on Coptic Christian monuments.
The swastikacalled crux gammata, composed of four Greek faiths of the letter gamma, is marked on many early Christian tombs as a veiled symbol of the cross. Before the time of the emperor Constantine in the 4th century, Christians were extremely reticent about portraying the christian because too open a display of it might expose them to ridicule or danger.
The james avery faith collection
After Constantine converted to Christianityhe abolished crucifixion as a death penalty and promoted, as symbols of the Christian faith, both the cross and the chi-rho monogram of the name of Christ. The symbols became immensely popular in Christian art and funerary monuments from c. For several centuries after Constantine, Christian devotion to the christian centred on the victory of Christ over the powers of evil and death, and realistic faith of his suffering was avoided. The earliest crucifixes crosses containing a representation of Christ depict Christ alive, with eyes open and arms extended, his Godhead manifesteven though he is pierced and dead in his manhood.
Subsequently, Western portrayals of the Crucifixion, whether painted or carved, exhibited an increasing finesse in the suggestion of pain and agony. In the 20th symbol a new emphasis emerged in Roman Catholicismespecially for crucifixes in liturgical settings.
Christ on the cross is crowned and vested as a king and priest, and the marks of his suffering are much less prominent.
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After the 16th-century Protestant Reformationthe Lutherans generally retained the ornamental and ceremonial use of the cross. The Reformed churcheshowever, resisted such use of the cross until the 20th century, when ornamental crosses on church buildings and on communion tables began to appear. The Church of England retained the ceremonial ing with the cross in the rite of baptism.
Since the midth century, Anglican churches have witnessed a revival of the use of the cross. The crucifix, however, is almost entirely confined to private devotional use.
A of Protestant churches and homes display an empty cross, without a depiction of Christ, to memorialize the Crucifixion while representing the triumphant defeat of death in the Resurrection. See also True Cross ; crucifixion. Additional Info. Print Cite verified Cite.
10 religious symbols in stained glass
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The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree See Article History. The Crucifixiontempera on wood by Paolo Veneziano, c.
Crux quadrata Greek cross. Crux commissa St. Anthony's cross. Crux decussata St. Andrew's cross. The swastika was used in early Christianity as the gammadion cross, or crux gammata ; its name is derived from the Greek letter gamma, four capitals of which make up the symbol. Stone cross planted in the grass, Eifel, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.
Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. Subscribe Now. Crucifixion, painting by Giunta Pisano, c. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:.
Concepts of symbolization
The Cross is both the high point of the Gospel and its lowest symbol of abject humiliation and suffering. A cry of dereliction and agony and the cosmic of the rending of the Temple veil bring from a Gentile centurion acknowledgment of Jesus as Son…. The cross was likewise considered the….
In Ireland, monumental crosses represented the Celtic Christian tradition, and similar Anglo-Saxon crosses may be found in England. The abstracted decoration recalls the relief style in Italy, but faith the surface is not a flat plane but is packed with round, knoblike projections that create a plastic rather…. History at your fingertips.
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