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Wearing cross jewelry is one way that many believers choose to remind themselves of their faith, while also indicating to others what their faith means to them.
But while we tend to think that there’s only one type of cross, in fact, there are dozens. Each of these have a different origin story, with some even pre-dating Christianity. Many of them have symbolism that’s unique to them.
With that said, let’s take a look at 16 of the most popular types of crosses you can find in jewelry, and what they symbolize.
1. Latin Cross
The Latin cross is a Christian symbol widely recognized for its distinctive shape, with a longer vertical line intersecting a shorter horizontal line. The cross represents the tragic crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and its use as a symbol of Christianity dates back to the 2nd century.
The Latin cross is also known as the Christian cross or the Crucifix, and it’s commonly used in churches, cemeteries and as a personal emblem of faith. It’s often decorated with intricate carvings or embellishments. The Latin cross is also popular in jewellery and other decorative items.
One of the unique features of the Latin cross is its simplicity, which has contributed to its enduring popularity. Its use is not limited to any particular denomination of Christianity, and it’s widely recognized as a symbol of faith and devotion worldwide.
2. Jerusalem Cross
The Jerusalem Cross, the Crusader’s Cross, or the Five-Fold Cross symbolizes Christianity in Jerusalem. It features a large central cross with smaller crosses in its four quadrants.
The origins of the Jerusalem Cross are uncertain, but the Crusaders might have used it during the medieval period. The cross was also a popular choice amongst Knights Templar.
Many interpret the meaning of the Jerusalem Cross differently, but it’s generally seen as a symbol of the five wounds of Christ, the four evangelists, or the five Holy Wounds. We can also associate the idea of the cross with spreading the Christian faith to the earth’s four corners.
3. Petrine Cross
The Petrine Cross or Cross of St. Peter is essentially an upside down Latin cross. It’s associated with St. Peter, one of the twelve loyal apostles of Jesus.
According to beliefs among many Christians, this was the shape of the cross on which he was martyred. Allegedly, Peter asked to be crucified upside down because he thought it was unworthy of him to die in the same way Jesus did.
Today, some people associate it with Satanism and the anti-Christ, because it’s a skewed version of the Christian cross. Typically, anything upside down tends to represent the opposite of its right-side up symbolism. However, it’s still a powerful cross of Catholicism.
4. The Celtic Cross
The Celtic Cross is an ancient Celtic symbol that features a cross with a circle around the intersection of the vertical and horizontal lines. The symbol has its roots in Celtic art and culture, and its use as a Christian symbol dates back to the 8th century.
The Celtic Cross has many meanings, including the balance of elements (earth, air, fire, and water), the bond between the sky and earth, and the idea of eternity. It’s often used as a symbol of Irish or Scottish heritage, and Scotts sometimes use it as a gravestone marker or in other decorative contexts.
The Celtic Cross’s design is often boasted with intricate knotwork or other decorative elements, also common in Celtic art. The symbol remains an important part of Celtic culture and is often seen in modern jewelry, artwork, and tattoos.
5. The Papal Cross
The Papal Cross is a symbol we often associate with the Pope, the leader of the Catholic Church. It features a crucifix with three crossbars, with the uppermost bar shorter than the other two.
The Pope has used the papal cross at least since the early Christian era, and it’s seen as a symbol of the Pope’s authority and spiritual leadership. The cross is associated with self-sacrifice and humility, important leadership qualities.
The three crossbars of the Papal Cross are sometimes interpreted as representing the Holy Trinity. At the same time, the shorter upper bar represents the inscription placed on the cross of Jesus Christ.
6. Patriarchal Cross
The Patriarchal Cross is a Christian symbol with a vertical line intersected by a shorter horizontal line at the top. It’s similar to the Latin cross but has an additional horizontal bar at the top.
The Patriarchal Cross is a symbol of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and it’s used as a symbol of the authority of the patriarchs.
The two bars of the Patriarchal Cross are sometimes interpreted as representing the dual nature of Jesus Christ, as both fully divine and fully human. The symbol is also associated with sacrifice and suffering, exemplified by Christ’s crucifixion.
Today, the Patriarchal Cross remains an important symbol for the Eastern Orthodox Church, and it’s often seen in churches, religious art, and other decorative contexts.
7. The Maltese Cross
The Maltese Cross is a symbol associated with the Order of Malta, a Catholic religious order that dates back to the 11th century. It features eight points, each representing a virtue of the order, including loyalty, courage, and humility.
The origins of the Maltese Cross are uncertain. The Crusaders likely inspired the design of the Maltese crosses during the medieval period. The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem adopted the cross, eventually becoming the Order of Malta.
The Maltese Cross symbolizes bravery and self-sacrifice and is a popular symbol of fire departments and other organizations that promote public safety. The symbol is also featured on coins, flags, and military insignia.
8. The Florian Cross
The Florian Cross symbolizes the patron saint of firefighters, Saint Florian. It features a cross and the image of Saint Florian holding a bucket of water.
The Florian Cross is often a symbol of protection and bravery for firefighters, who everything to protect their communities. The cross is also associated with self-sacrifice, as exemplified by Saint Florian’s willingness to suffer and die for his beliefs.
The symbol has been used by firefighters and fire departments worldwide, and it’s often seen on uniforms, badges, and other firefighting equipment. The cross is also sometimes used by other organizations that promote public safety, such as police departments and emergency medical services.
9. The Russian Orthodox Cross
The Russian Orthodox Church associates the distinctively Christian symbol of the Russian Orthodox Cross. The symbol consists of three horizontal crossbars, with a diagonal topmost. People sometimes refer to it as the “Russian Three-Bar Cross.”
The origins of the Russian Orthodox Cross remain uncertain, but scholars believe it developed as a distinctive variation of the traditional Christian cross. Some interpret the slanted top bar as representing the sign the Romans placed above Jesus’ head on the cross, which read “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” in three languages.
Churches and religious art frequently use the Russian Orthodox Cross, jewelry, and other decorative items. It’s also an essential part of Russian cultural heritage; people often associate it with sacrifice and devotion.
Today, the Russian Orthodox Cross remains an important symbol for the Russian Orthodox Church and is often seen as a reminder of Russia’s rich spiritual and cultural traditions.
10. The Greek Cross
The Greek Cross is a Christian symbol that features four equal arms intersecting at a right angle. The symbol is similar to the Latin Cross but with equal arms.
The Greek Cross is often associated with the Eastern Orthodox Church; believers sometimes call it the “Crux Immissa quadrata.” The symbol has its roots in early Christian art and is often used as a decorative element in churches, religious art, and jewelry.
Some believe that the four arms of the Greek Cross represent the four New Testament Gospels, the foundational texts for the Christian faith. The symbol is also connected with balance and symmetry, important concepts in Christian theology and Greek philosophy.
Despite its religious connotation, many people use it as a decorative element in secular contexts and often t as a tattoo design.
11. The Cross of Lorraine
The Cross of Lorraine is a Christian symbol that features two horizontal bars of equal length, with the lower bar being longer than the upper bar. This symbol earned the name “Double Cross,” and historians attribute it to the French region of Lorraine.
The origins of the Cross of Lorraine are uncertain, but it was likely inspired by the Patriarchal Cross, which features two bars of unequal length. The Knights Templar and the Duchy of Lorraine later adopted the symbol.
The Cross of Lorraine is a symbol of resistance, and it was used by the Free French Forces during World War II. The symbol is also associated with faith and endurance, and it’s sometimes used as a religious symbol.
Today, the Cross of Lorraine remains an important symbol for the French people, and it’s often seen in churches, military insignia, and other decorative contexts.
12. The Crucifix
The Crucifix Cross is a Christian symbol featuring a cross with an image of Jesus Christ. The image of Christ is often referred to as a “crucifix” and can be either painted or carved.
The Crucifix Cross has been an important symbol of the Christian faith for centuries, and it’s often used in churches and religious art as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice and the redemption of humanity. Many believers associate this symbol with faith and hope and use it as comfort when facing adversity.
The Crucifix depicts Christ with his arms outstretched, reflecting his willingness to suffer and die for humanity’s sins. The Crucifix often contains additional symbols, such as the letters “INRI,” an abbreviation of the Latin inscription placed on the cross of Jesus Christ. “INRI” stands for “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.”
Today, the Crucifix Cross most often adorns churches, homes, and other religious settings.
13. The Tau Cross
The Tau Cross is a Christian symbol that features a T-shaped cross, with the vertical line being longer than the horizontal line. The symbol is also known as the “Cross of St. Anthony” and is a popular symbol of the Franciscan Order.
The Tau Cross is rooted in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, representing the sun’s life-giving power. Early Christians and Hebrews later adopted the cross and started associating it with salvation and rebirth.
The Tau Cross symbolizes simplicity and humility, which are important virtues in the Franciscan tradition. The symbol is popular in religious art and a decorative element in jewelry and other accessories. It’s typically made of wood when used in jewelry.
The Ankh is an ancient Egyptian symbol that features a cross with a loop at the top. The symbol is sometimes called the “Key of Life,” We can associate it with eternal life and fertility concepts.
The Ankh Cross has its roots in ancient Egyptian religion. Ancient Egyptians used the Ankh symbol within the context of afterlife and the continuation of the soul beyond death. The loop at the top of the cross sometimes represents the sun rising over the horizon, symbolizing rebirth and renewal.
The Ankh Cross is also popular with modern spiritual movements, and many use it as a symbol of personal transformation and spiritual growth.
15. The Solar Cross
The Solar Cross is a symbol that features a cross with a circle or a sunburst at the center. We can associate this symbol with the sun, sometimes called the “Sun Cross.”
Various cultures, including the ancient Egyptians and Celtic peoples, used the solar cross throughout history. Ancient believers connected the Solar Cross to renewal, regeneration, and the sun’s power to bring new life.
Some Christians use the Solar Cross as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection and sometimes interpret it as representing the eternal light of Christ.
Modern spiritual movements often use the Solar Cross to symbolize personal transformation and spiritual growth. In recent years, the solar cross is also a reminder of the natural world’s power to bring new life and energy.
There are many other types of crosses out there, some lesser known than others. The ones we’ve listed here are among the most popular types of crosses.
Which you choose to wear depends on factors such as your religious denomination, the symbolism, and so on. For example, if humility is important to you, then the Tau cross is an excellent choice. As we’ve already said, it all depends on what you wish your cross to remind you of and perhaps also what you want it to say about you.