Cross vs crucifix

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Cross and crucifix are two words that are often confused. We will examine the definitions of cross and crucifix, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A cross is a mark that is made up of two intersecting lines at right angles. In Christianity, the cross is a symbol of the cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified, of Jesus Christ himself, or of the Christian religions. In this context, a cross is a vertical beam with a cross member situated lower than the top of the beam, designed for crucifixion. The most commonly recognized cross design is the Latin cross. Other religious symbols based upon the cross are the tau cross, the Celtic cross, the Byzantine cross, the Jerusalem cross and the Chi Rho. Many Christians wear a cross pendant around the neck. Crosses are found in most Christian churches, and are meant to remind the believer of the sacrifice that Jesus made for the salvation of the world, through his suffering and resurrection. The word cross is derived from the Latin word crux, meaning the stake upon which criminals were hung. The plural form of cross is crosses. The symbol of the cross is mostly favored by Protestant religions.

A crucifix is an artistic rendering of a cross with the body of Jesus depicted on it. A crucifix always depicts a corpus on the cross. The crucifix is mostly used as a Christian symbol in the Catholic church, using a wooden crucifix or bronze crucifix for processional, sacramental, or liturgical purposes, or placing a wall crucifix behind the altar. Some of the older Catholic churches display a silver crucifix or a gold crucifix. For thousands of years, Christian art has depicted Christ crucified or Jesus on the cross at Golgotha. Such a depiction of the death of Jesus shows Him wearing a crown of thorns, with a sign inscribed INRI, which stands for Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. The word crucifix is derived from the Latin phrase cruci fixus, which means one who is affixed to a cross. The plural form of crucifix is crucifixes.


Scott Dudley, the senior pastor at Bellevue Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, Wash., and a lifelong friend, pointed out to me that on the cross God was reconciling the world to himself — but God was also, perhaps, reconciling himself to the world. (The New York Times)

On Thursday, that goal became reality as he carried a large, wooden cross down the aisle of St. Patrick Church during the Living Way of the Cross. (The Terre Haute Tribune Star)

“We were going to take the crucifix down during the renovations anyways, so we asked ourselves if we were going to put it back up, and we decided that we won’t,” said city councillor Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, who oversees the city’s democratic institutions. (The Guardian)

The tradition culminates each year on Good Friday, with tens of thousands of people visiting the shrine, a National Historic Landmark built at the site where a wooden crucifix known as Nuestro Señor de Esquipulas was thought to have been discovered over 200 years ago. (The Santa Fe New Mexican)