"Dont forget to put kisses on Grannies birthday card!" Surely every child has heard that. Gripping the pen, bent over the card with intense concentration, tongue sticking out perhaps, the little child carefully draws a row of crosses and the crosses mean love. A cross, the easiest thing in the world to draw, and perhaps the first symbol a child learns, is a sign of love. And why? It originates from the centuries-old Christian symbol, the Cross, where the love of God for us was most profoundly shown. And how the multi-national corporations would love to own such an instantly recognisable brand logo!
Looking around, youll see crosses everywhere: worn as a fashion accessory, flown as a flag, marking a pharmacy not just in churches. And people dont think twice about crossing their fingers for luck or protection, a custom that actually originates from the Christian cross. Even hot cross buns, traditionally eaten only on Good Friday to mark Christs crucifixion, are now available throughout the year and regarded as little more than a tasty treat. We see crosses so often, in fact, that they just about become invisible and even Christians can become blind to the Cross.
If you enjoy visiting old churches, youll have seen dozens of crosses in all sorts of designs. Not just the product of an imaginative craftsman, each design has a special meaning, the product of different Christian societies over the centuries. The plain LATIN cross is most commonly seen, with a short bar high up across the vertical post, and is thought to be most like the cross used in Roman crucifixion. The Crucifix, a Latin cross bearing the figure of Christ, reminds us of Christs death, while an empty cross or one bearing Christ robed in majesty celebrates his resurrection.
The CALVARY cross is similar to the Latin, but stands on a three-stepped base, which symbolises the hill of Calvary, and the three steps represent faith, hope and love. The arms of the PASSION cross have sharp, pointed ends, denoting Christs suffering at the crucifixion.
The earliest known Christian cross is the GREEK, square, with equal arms, and it symbolises the Church rather than Christs passion. The CELTIC Christian cross is the oldest type native to Britain, characterised by a halo behind its cross-bar and highly patterned with interlace. Ancient stone crosses like this are found in the old Celtic areas of Britain and in many of our museums, and with the Celtic revival it is a design frequently used in modern jewellery.
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