A very ancient symbol, present even before Christianity, the Cross is a geometric figure made up of two lines or bars, one horizontal and one vertical, which cross each other at right angles.
Finds of the first Crosses date back to the earliest pre-Christian civilisations, including those well-known found in Mesopotamia. But the evidence of their presence is not limited to Asia alone.
Worldwide, from North to South, there are many finds of this ancient and fascinating symbol.
In Europe, the Gauls loved to decorate ceramics, jewellery and coins with crosses. In Mexico, Peru and Central America, the cross became a clear reference to the Four Winds. Indians also used crosses; in their case, we found them at crossroads.
Therefore, it is undeniable that the presence of the Cross is attested in many cultures and lands untouched by the teaching of the Church and that it has taken on a strongly symbolic meaning. The change came with the Romans who used the Cross as an instrument of torture. Jesus himself died on the Cross, his Crucifixion representing Victory over Death and Sin. Identified as a universal symbol of Christianity, the Cross has its variants according to culture and the various Christian communities.
But how many types of Crosses are there? Actually, it is not possible to estimate the exact number of existing Crosses, so here only some of the most famous ones will be presented:
Latin Cross: Also known as "Crux Ordinaria" in Latin, the Latin cross represents the Cross on which the Crucifixion of the Lord took place.It is the symbol most commonly used by the various Christian denominations.
Tau Cross: also known as the Commissa Cross, it is characterised by the crossbar at the top of the vertical part. Its shape recalls the letter T.
Greek Cross: Cross formed by four arms of equal measures. It was the Cross used by the early Christians until the Latin Cross began to be used. It is still used in the Eastern Churches and in the Orthodox Churches.
Trifoliate Cross: Cross with clover-shaped ends. The Cross is also known as the St Maurice Cross.
Jerusalem Cross: the emblematic cross of the Holy Land, the Jerusalem Cross consists of a central Greek Cross and four small Greek crosses in the inner corners. According to some, the five crosses represent the five wounds of Jesus' passion on the Cross.
CHI RHO Cross: One of the most important Christian symbols. The Chi Rho symbol was composed of the superimposition of the two letters of the Greek alphabet, X and P, 'Christos' in Greek meaning Christ. The monogram placed on a tomb indicated that the deceased was a Christian. It was later adopted by Emperor Constantine as a Christian symbol.
St Damian Cross: Cross dating from around 1100. The work of an unknown artist, it depicts the cross-shaped icon before which St Francis of Assisi was praying as he received the Lord's request to repair his house.
St Benedict Cross: Cross to which the Church has attributed great Power against Exorcism. Inside the Cross is the Saint's famous medal.
St John Paul II Pastoral Cross: Reproduction of the Ferula Cross, i.e. the Pastoral Cross adopted by Pope St John Paul II.
Caravaca Cross: Cross formed by two horizontal lines, the upper arm being wider, and two Angels at the base. The presence of the Angels is a clear reference to its history.
It is said that the Angels appeared to Priest Juan Perez during the celebration of a Mass in which the essential element was missing: the Cross.
It was at that moment that two Angels descended from Heaven, carrying a cross with a double axis and handing it to the priest.
Good Shepherd Cross: Pectoral cross adopted by Pope Francis. In relief, the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd carrying the flock and a sheep on his shoulders.
In John 10:11, Jesus says ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.’ Jesus is our Good Shepherd, he cares for us perfectly and knows exactly the right care for each one.