The symbol of the cross

The symbol and deep significance of the cross are present in the spirituality and religions of humanity from ancient times, before Christianity. Seen as a division of the world into the four primary elements (water, fire, air, and earth) or cardinal points, the cross is also considered as a representation of the union between the earthly (horizontal) and the divine (vertical line) world.
Some historians believe that this was a configuration of an instrument used in ancient times for making fire, and for this reason was a symbol of sacred fire or of the sun in its daily motion. At the same time, the cross was interpreted as a mystical sign of lightning or storm god, but also as an emblem of the pioneer of Arian civilization.

Another connected symbol is the ankh or "crux ansata" cross in ancient Egypt, which appears frequently in the hands of Sekhet and is also a hieroglyphic sign of life. In times closer to us, Egyptian Christians (Copts) were attracted by its form and symbolism, adapting it as the emblem of the cross.

The word "cross" originates etymologically from the Latin "crux", a Roman torture apparatus used for crucifixion. Although it is not certain when the first picture of the cross appeared in the history of the world, it is significant that this graphic element is, after circle, one of the first symbols drawn by children from all cultures. There are many cross-shaped stone inlays in the European caves dedicated to ancient cultures, dating back to the Stone Age. Like the other symbols of this period, the cross continued to be found in Celtic and Germanic cultures in Europe. For example, some Celtic coins that appeared many centuries before Christianity contained a cross on one of the faces of the Stone Age, while others depicted a man holding a cross in his hand, seated on a horse that was just jumping over a leaf fern, a symbol associated with the meaning of the Tree of Life. On April 10, 2013, perhaps the oldest symbol of the cross on the occasion of archaeological excavations in the Ur site in Iraq was discovered. One of the buildings unearthed here, about 4,000 years old, is in the form of a cross similar to that used for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The cross as a symbol in early Christianity

During the first two centuries of Christianity, the cross was rarely used in Christian iconography, as it was guided by the cruel method of public execution applied by the Romans to many Christians. A cross-like symbol named the staurograma (the monogramatic cross or the tau-rho) was used to represent the word "cross" in the very early manuscripts of the New Testament. Adopting the cross as a Christian icon symbol extended with the 4th century.

However, the cross was already associated with Christians in the second century, as indicated by Minucius Felix's anticrisis quoted in "Octavius," but also by the fact that Tertullian called the faithful Christians "religious crucifixes," the syntagma meaning "the followers of the cross." Tertullian also wrote in his book "De Corona," that it was already a tradition for Christians to repeatedly make their cross sign over their foreheads. The crucifix, the cross on which Jesus is crucified, appeared only in the sixth century.
In the Jewish Encyclopedia, it is said that the Christian cross symbol began to be used at the beginning of the second century, if not earlier and that the sign of the cross made over the forehead and chest was seen as a way of defending the demonic powers. On the other hand, Christian parents had to defend themselves, in the second century, against the charge that they had worshiped the cross. At the same time, Christians used to swear by invoking the power of the cross.

Cross as a symbol in contemporary Christianity

In today's Christianity, the cross is a symbol of sacrifice and triumph. It represents the victory of Jesus over sin and death because by resurrection he managed to defeat even the non-existence.

The sign of the cross made by hand is used by Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, Oriental Orthodox, members of major branches of Lutheranism, some Anglicans and many other Christians in the world.

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