Symbolism Behind the Jerusalem Cross
Where does the Jerusalem Cross fit into our Faith?
The Jerusalem Cross is rich in symbolism and meaning and goes by many different names, including the Crusader's Cross and the "five-fold cross". It is a heraldic cross and Christian cross variant consisting of a large cross potent surrounded by four smaller Greek crosses, one in each quadrant. Throughout history there have been many variations of the cross, each holding historical or cultural significance. The Greek cross, Latin cross, Celtic cross, and the Jerusalem cross are just a few examples of the different types of crosses created throughout the history of our faith.
Discovery of the first Jerusalem Crosses:
This Jerusalem Cross was unearthed, by a team of American archeologists, in the hidden tomb of the first Christian King of Jerusalem, which is why it’s called the Jerusalem cross.
The cross represents the essence Christianity in many ways:
- This Jerusalem cross represents Christ's command to spread the Gospel around the world, a mission that started in Jerusalem.
- A combination of the Old Testament teachings (the four Tau Crosses) and the New Testament teachings (the four Greek Crosses).
- The four evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) with Christ in the center.
- The four smaller crosses represent the spread of Christianity (central cross) to the four corners of the earth, and the red of the garnets represent God's sacrifice for man.
- The same symbol was later adopted by the Crusaders going to the Holy Land in the Middle Ages, and for this reason it is called the “Crusader’s Cross.” It was on the papal banner given to the crusaders by Pope Urban II in the Middle Ages.
- The cross is most widely interpreted as representing the five wounds of Christ. The smaller crosses symbolize the wounds on Jesus’ hands and feet, while the large central cross is the wound from the soldier’s spear.
- The eight-pointed cross, known as Maltese Cross, each point representing a Beatitude from Jesus' famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-10):
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
- Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
- Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
- Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
- Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
- Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Many believers like to believe when they wear the Jerusalem cross, they commit themselves to the eight Beatitudes, which is the way that Jesus taught us to reach the kingdom of God. Nowadays, whenever you go to a Franciscan church, you’ll find this cross since it was adopted by the Franciscan church. It is mostly displayed with two arms, one to symbolize the arm of Jesus and the other one for the arm of Saint Francis.
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