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Encyclopedia > Sign of the cross
Position of the fingers while making the sign of the cross in the Eastern Orthodox fashion.

The Sign of the Cross is a ceremonial hand motion made by the vast majority of the world's Christians. It is usually accompanied with the trinitarian formula. For Christians, the motion symbolizes the Cross on Calvary by tracing the shape of the cross in the air or on one's own body. The four points can also signify loving God with all one's heart, soul, mind and strength. There are two particular arrangements one is most likely to observe. One is followed by many of the Eastern Churches, the other by the Western Churches (Anglicanism, Lutheranism, and Roman Catholicism) as well as the Oriental Orthodox. Sign of the cross may refer to: The ritual hand motion known by Christians as the Sign of the Cross The book by Colm Tóibín entitled The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe The Sign of the Cross (film) directed by Cecil B. DeMille A song... Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ... The trinitarian formula is the phrase in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (original Greek εις το ονομα του πατρος και του υιου και του αγίου πνεύματος, eis to onoma tou patros kai tou huiou kai tou hagiou pneumatos), or words to that form and effect referring to the persons of the Holy Trinity. ... The traditional form of the Western Christian cross, known as the Latin cross. ... Golgotha redirects here. ... Eastern Christianity refers collectively to the Christian traditions and churches which developed in Greece, the Balkans, the rest of Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, northeastern Africa and southern India over several centuries of religious antiquity. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Pope · Archbishop of Canterbury Patriarch of Constantinople Christianity Portal This box:      Western Christianity is a form of... Anglicanism commonly refers to the beliefs and practices of the Anglican Communion, the churches that are in full communion with the see of Canterbury. ... Lutheranism is a major branch of Protestant Christianity that follows the teachings of the sixteenth-century German reformer Martin Luther. ... The Roman Catholic Church, most often spoken of simply as the Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with over one billion members. ... The term Oriental Orthodoxy refers to the churches of Eastern Christian traditions that keeps the faith of only the first three ecumenical councils of the undivided Church - the councils of Nicea, Constantinople and Ephesus. ...

Contents

The gesture

Position of the fingers while blessing with the sign of the cross.
Position of the fingers while blessing with the sign of the cross.

The open right hand is used in the churches of the West, whilst in Orthodox churches the thumb, index, and middle finger are brought to a point. The sign of the Cross is then made be touching the hand to the forehead, sternum, and both shoulders. Image File history File linksMetadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File linksMetadata No higher resolution available. ...


As one moves through the Sign, the Trinitarian formula is prayed: when the sign is firstly at the forehead, "In the name of the Father"; then at the stomach, "and of the Son"; across the shoulders, "and of the Holy Spirit/Ghost"; and in the end, "Amen." There are several interpretations, according to Church Fathers[1]: the forehead symbolizes the Heaven; the stomach, the Earth; the shoulders, the place and sign of power. Also, the hand to the forehead may be seen as a prayer to the Father for wisdom; the hand to the stomach as a prayer to the Son who become incarnate; and the hand to the shoulders as a prayer to the Holy Spirit. The trinitarian formula is the phrase in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (original Greek εις το ονομα του πατρος και του υιου και του αγίου πνεύματος, eis to onoma tou patros kai tou huiou kai tou hagiou pneumatos), or words to that form and effect referring to the persons of the Holy Trinity. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Archbishop of Canterbury · Catholic Pope Coptic Pope · Ecumenical Patriarch Christianity Portal This box:      In mainstream Christianity, the... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Pope · Archbishop of Canterbury Patriarch of Constantinople Christianity Portal This box:      The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers... Christ en majesté, Matthias Grünewald, 16th c. ...


The thumb, index and middle finger brought to a point symbolise the Trinity (the Father, son and the holy Spirit/ghost) , three persons sharing a single essence. The remaining two fingers (kept pressed together and touching the palm) represent the human and divine natures of Jesus Christ. This article or section contains too many quotations for an encyclopedic entry. ...


There are some variations: for example a person may first place the right hand in holy water. After moving the hand from one shoulder to the other, it may be returned to the stomach. It may also be accompanied by the recitation of a prayer e.g the Jesus Prayer, or simply "Lord have mercy". St. ... Christogram with Jesus Prayer in Romanian: Doamne Iisuse Hristoase, Fiul lui Dumnezeu, miluieşte-mă pe mine păcătosul. ... Kyrie is the vocative case of the Greek word κύριος (kyrios - lord) and means O Lord; it is the common name of an important prayer of Christian liturgy, also called Kyrie eleison which is Greek for Lord, have mercy. ...

A fragment of painting Boyarynya Morozova by Vasily Surikov depicting Feodosiya Morozova arrested by the Nikonians in 1671. She holds two fingers raised: a hint of the old, i.e., "proper", way of cross-signing oneself: with two fingers, rather than with three.

In Russia until the reforms of Patriarch Nikon in the 17th century, it was customary to make the sign of the cross with two fingers (symbolising the dual nature of Christ). The enforcement of the three-finger sign was one of the reasons for the schism with the Old Believers whose congregations continue to use the two-finger sign of the cross. Take from http://www. ... Take from http://www. ... A boyar (also spelled bojar, Romanian: ) was a member of the highest rank of the feudal Bulgarian, Romanian, and Russian aristocracy, second only to the ruling princes, from the 10th century through the 17th century. ... Self-Portrait Vasily Ivanovich Surikov (Василий Иванович Суриков) (January 24, 1848 (Julian calendar: January 12) – March 19, 1916 (Julian calendar: March 6)) was the foremost Russian painter of large-scale historical subjects. ... A fragment of painting Boyarynya Morozova by Vasily Surikov depicting Feodosiyas arrest by the Nikonians in 1671. ... Nikon (Russian: Ни́кон, Old Russian: Нїконъ), born Nikita Minin (Никита Минин; May 7, 1605 Valmanovo, Russia—August 17, 1681), was the seventh patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. ... In the context of Russian Orthodox church history, the Old Believers (Russian: ) separated after 1666 - 1667 from the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church as a protest against church reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon. ... Nikon (Russian: Ни́кон, Old Russian: Нїконъ), born Nikita Minin (Никита Минин; May 7, 1605 Valmanovo, Russia—August 17, 1681), was the seventh patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. ... (16th century - 17th century - 18th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 17th century was that century which lasted from 1601-1700. ... The word schism (IPA: or ), from the Greek σχίσμα, skhísma (from σχίζω, skhízō, to tear, to split), means a division or a split, usually in an organization or a movement. ... In the context of Russian Orthodox church history, the Old Believers (Russian: ) separated after 1666 - 1667 from the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church as a protest against church reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon. ...


Today Russian Orthodox believers finish the sign of the cross by moving the hand to the left side, below the stomach, as opposed to the shoulder. They also frequently make the Sign two times in a row and then bow toward the church, icon, cross, or priest. The Russian Orthodox Church (Русская Православная церковь) is that body of Christians who are united under the Patriarch of Moscow, who in turn is in communion with... It has been suggested that Ecclesia (Church) be merged into this article or section. ... Look up icon in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A Greek cross (all arms of equal length) above a saltire, a cross rotated by 45 degrees A famous Armenian khachkar at Goshavank (Notice the cross). ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


Shoulders

Regarding the sequence of which shoulder is touched first, different practices have developed. Originally, all Christians signed themselves in this order: forehead, stomach, right shoulder, left shoulder. However, it would seem that, by the end of the Middle Ages, the Christians in the West moved from left shoulder to right; this is the practice that is followed by Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans. However, the Eastern Christians have retained the orginal right to left movement.


Use of the sign

During liturgical action, such as the Roman Catholic Mass, there are moments where the Sign is required: the laity sign themselves at the beginning of the Eucharist, at the Gospel and at the final blessing; addtionally, the celebrant makes the Sign - but only once - over the bread and wine before the words of Institution (i.e. words of Christ). In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, both celebrant and people make the Sign of the Cross much more frequently than in Catholicism. Other occasions at which the Sign of the Cross is made would be: upon entering or leaving a church building, at the start and end of personal prayer, or passing the main altar (which represents Christ). Additionally, Eastern Christians sign themselves whenever all three persons of the Trinity are addressed as well when approaching an icon. A Medieval Low Mass by a bishop. ...


Some Christians will make the Sign of the Cross in a way that may seem idiomatic: for example, if a person is exposed to blasphemy, he or she may cross themselves (suggesting that an offence has been committed). Others sign themselves as a way of calling down God's blessing before or during an event e.g. a long journey, examination, operation, job interview, scoring a goal, or playing a sport on a professional basis.


Clergy may make the Sign of the Cross over a person or object which is to be blessed: a home, a car or a religious item such as an icon. Roman Catholic bishops make the Sign of the Cross three times when they are blessing a large group of people. It is made once at the Name of the Father, a second time at naming the Son and one last time at the naming of the Holy Spirit.


Perhaps the essential element of the Sign is that it is a physical act which indicates the relevance of the Cross, of the Sacrifice of Jesus, in the life of Christians who use their bodies to affirm what is believed. In Latin countries it is common to see people signing themselves in public; it is an act which is second-nature to many people. This article is about Jesus of Nazareth. ...


In very traditional societies, the Sign of the Cross is employed during everyday activities e.g. the spoon crosses the newly poured mixture before stirring, the housewives bless food when placing it in the oven, the potter blesses the clay before creating a vessel and the father of a family crosses the bread with the knife before cutting it into slices, since bread is parallelled with the body of Christ. A spoon. ... Oven depicted in a painting by Millet An oven is an enclosed compartment for heating, baking or drying. ... Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults. ... Christ is the English term for the Greek word (Christós), which literally means The Anointed One. ...


Low-Church attitudes

Although the Sign of the Cross dates to early Christianity, it was generally rejected by the Reformers, and is mostly absent from Protestantism. Since the Reformation, it has generally been rejected by Protestants in general and some Low-Church Anglicans as being a Catholic practice. Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Pope · Archbishop of Canterbury Patriarch of Constantinople Christianity Portal This box:      Protestantism encompasses the forms of Christian... The Protestant Reformation was a movement which began in the 16th century as a series of attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church, but ended in division and the establishment of new institutions, most importantly Lutheranism, Reformed churches, and Anabaptists. ... Low church is a term of distinction in the Church of England or other Anglican churches, initially designed to be pejorative. ...


Lutheranism

Many Lutherans never abandoned the practice. In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, for example, it is expected before the morning & evening prayers in the catechism.[2] The Lutheran movement is a group of denominations of Protestant Christianity by the original definition. ... The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is a mainline Protestant denomination headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. ...


Methodism

Since The United Methodist Church is, generally speaking, a product of the Protestant Reformation, it has a piety that tends to be iconoclastic—that is rejecting statues, icons, and many other practices perceived to be typically Roman Catholic.[3] Currently, the sign of the cross is used by a small portion of Methodists on a regular basis, but on Ash Wednesday, it is almost always applied by the elder on the laity.[4] However, the usage of the sign of the cross is predicted to become more accepted in the near future, due to the ecumenical movement, and a greater understanding of the sacrament of Baptism.[5] This article is about the current denomination in the United States. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Pope · Archbishop of Canterbury Patriarch of Constantinople Christianity Portal This box:      For other uses, see Reformation (disambiguation). ... Piety is a desire and willingness to perform spiritual, often ascetic rituals. ... Literally, iconoclasm is the destruction of religious icons and other sacred images or monuments, usually for religious or political motives. ... In the Western Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. ... An Elder in Methodism -- sometimes called a Presbyter -- is someone who has been ordained by a Bishop to the ministry of Word, Sacrament, Order, and Service. ... In religious organizations, the laity comprises all lay persons collectively. ... The word ecumenism is derived from the Greek oikoumene, which means the inhabited world. The term is usually used with regard to movements toward religious unity. ... In Christian belief and practice, a sacrament is a rite that mediates divine grace, constituting a sacred mystery. ... Baptism in early Christian art. ...


Origins of the sign of the cross

Ravenna mosaic, 6th c.: Jesus is portrayed gesturing a sign of the cross with his right hand facing outward, like a Christian priest giving a blessing. (Christ Pantocrator).
Ravenna mosaic, 6th c.: Jesus is portrayed gesturing a sign of the cross with his right hand facing outward, like a Christian priest giving a blessing. (Christ Pantocrator).

The Christian custom of gesturing the sign of the cross was originally with the right hand thumb and across the forehead only. The custom originated during the second century. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 478 × 599 pixel Image in higher resolution (1203 × 1507 pixel, file size: 338 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) A 6th century mosaic of Jesus at Church San Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 478 × 599 pixel Image in higher resolution (1203 × 1507 pixel, file size: 338 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) A 6th century mosaic of Jesus at Church San Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy. ... Ravenna is a city and comune in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. ... For other uses, see Pantokrator (disambiguation). ...


Vestiges of this earliest gesture still exist when Christians sign a cross on their forehead to hear the Gospels during Mass, when their foreheads are marked with ash on Ash Wednesday, when applying the holy oil (called chrism) on the forehead for the sacrament of Confirmation. Around year 200 in Carthage (modern Tunisia, Africa), Tertullian says: "We Christians wear out our foreheads with the sign of the cross". It is thought that, by the end of the second century Christians signed the cross on their forehead before taking any risk, such as embarking on a journey. In the Western Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. ... Chrism (Greek word literally meaning an anointing), also called Myrrh (Myron), Holy Oil, or Consecrated Oil, is a consecrated oil used in the Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Old-Catholic churches, and in Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran churches in... In Christian belief and practice, a sacrament is a rite that mediates divine grace, constituting a sacred mystery. ... See Reform Judaism article about its Confirmation ceremony. ... Roman Carthage with former military harbor Carthage (Greek: , Latin: , from the Phoenician meaning new town; Arabic: ) refers both to an ancient city in Tunisia and to the civilization that developed within the citys sphere of influence. ... Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian, (ca. ...


By the fourth century, the sign of the cross involved other parts of the body beyond the forehead. By the sixth century, these variations of smaller signs across the body became the one larger sign used now.


Double-cross

The English-language expression "double-cross" has led to some fake etymology: There was a period in the Middle Ages when some Venetian merchants would cross themselves in the Western fashion when meeting with Westerners, and in the Eastern fashion when meeting with Easterners. This duplicity supposedly led to the coining of the phrase "double crosser" to mean someone who professes to be aligned with one party, but in reality is aligned with an opposing party or with no party. A fake etymology, is an invented explanation (etymology) for the origin of a word. ...


The actual origin of the expression "double-cross" which dates in English from only 1834, has to do with "fixing" a horse-race in a pre-arranged swindle that is almost certainly unconnected with the Sign of the Cross. Year 1834 (MDCCCXXXIV) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian Calendar (or a common year starting on Monday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ...


Pop-culture References

The order of motions for the sign of the cross is sometimes referred to by the catchphrase Spectacles, Testicles, Watch and Wallet — the watch being a pocket watch which is traditionally worn in the left hand chest pocket. A gold pocket watch with hunter case and watch chain A pocket watch (or pocketwatch) usually is a strapless personal timepiece that is carried in a pocket. ...


It was the punchline in a joke told by Myron Cohen on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show in the 1960s, in which a Catholic priest and his good friend the Rabbi, whom he had long been teasing about needing to convert to Catholicism, are on an airplane together when the plane hits an air pocket and jumps violently. The rabbi makes the traditional gesture and the priest cries out, "You've converted!" "No," says the rabbi, "I vas just checking: spectacles, testicles, vatch, and vallet." Myron Cohen (July 1, 1902 - March 10, 1986) was an American comedian and storyteller. ... The Ed Sullivan Show is an American television variety show that ran from June 20, 1948 to June 6, 1971, and was hosted by former entertainment columnist Ed Sullivan. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


This term is used in the 1990 Jonathan Lynn film Nuns on the Run when lapsed Catholic Charlie (Robbie Coltrane) tries to teach Brian (Eric Idle) how to perform the sign of the cross, so that he can successfully pass himself off as a nun. It is also used by Edward Norton in Keeping the Faith where, as a priest, he unsuccessfully tries to teach Ben Stiller, a rabbi, how to sign the cross. Year 1990 (MCMXC) was a common year starting on Monday (link displays the 1990 Gregorian calendar). ... Jonathan Lynn (born April 3, 1943), is a British actor and comedy writer. ... Nuns on the Run is a popular British comedy film of 1990, starring Robbie Coltrane and Eric Idle. ... Robbie Coltrane, OBE (born Anthony Robert McMillan on March 30, 1950) is a Scottish Television and Film actor. ... Eric Idle (born March 29, 1943) is a British comedian, actor, author and writer of comedic songs. ... For other uses, see Nun (disambiguation). ... Edward Harrison Norton[1] (born August 18, 1969) is a two-time Academy Award-nominated, Golden Globe-winning American film actor and director. ... Keeping the Faith is a 2000 comedy film, written by Stuart Blumberg and directed by Edward Norton. ... Benjamin Edward Stiller (born November 30, 1965 ) is an Emmy-winning American comedian, actor, film producer and director. ...


In the Austin Powers series of films, Austin Powers typically says to himself when crossing himself, "spectacles, testicles, wallet, watch". The Austin Powers series is a series of comedy films from 1997 to present that is written and produced by and starred Mike Myers as the title character, directed by Jay Roach and distributed by New Line Cinema. ... The tone or style of this article or section may not be appropriate for Wikipedia. ... A pair of modern glasses Glasses, also called eyeglasses or spectacles, are frames, bearing lenses worn in front of the eyes normally for vision correction, eye protection, or for protection from UV rays. ... The testicle (from Latin testis, meaning witness [1], plural testes) or ballock is the male generative gland in animals. ... An example of a wallet A wallet is a small (usually pocket-sized) storage device used to keep personal items such as credit cards, cash, drivers licenses for frequent quick access. ... Russian Poljot Siberia model finished movement viewed through crystal back For other uses, see Watch (disambiguation). ...


See also

The traditional form of the Western Christian cross, known as the Latin cross. ... Christian symbolism is the use of actions or objects to represent the truths of the Christian faith, either as a reminder of those truths or as a way of spiritually connecting with the underlying truth or act. ... Mary Magdalene in prayer. ... Veneration is a religious symbolic act giving honor to someone by honoring an image of that person, particularly applied to saints. ... Look up Genuflection in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The trinitarian formula is the phrase in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (original Greek εις το ονομα του πατρος και του υιου και του αγίου πνεύματος, eis to onoma tou patros kai tou huiou kai tou hagiou pneumatos), or words to that form and effect referring to the persons of the Holy Trinity. ...

References

  1. ^ Prayer Book, edited by the Romanian Orthodox Church, several editions (Carte de rugăciuni - Editura Institutului biblic şi de misiune al Bisericii ortodoxe române, 2005),
  2. ^ Why Do Lutherans Make the Sign of the Cross?. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Retrieved on 2007-06-16.
  3. ^ Can United Methodists use the sign of the cross?. United Methodist Church. Retrieved on 2007-06-16.
  4. ^ What is the significance of ashes being placed on the forehead on Ash Wednesday?. Retrieved on 2007-06-16.
  5. ^ This Holy Mystery. United Methodist Church GBOD. Retrieved on 2007-06-16.

The Romanian Orthodox Church (Biserica Ortodoxă Română in Romanian) is one of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... is the 167th day of the year (168th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... is the 167th day of the year (168th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... is the 167th day of the year (168th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... is the 167th day of the year (168th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Sign of the Cross (2009 words)
Hardly less early in date is the custom of marking a cross on objects -- already Tertullian speaks of the Christian woman "signing" her bed (cum lectulum tuum signas, "Ad uxor.", ii, 5) before retiring to rest-and we soon hear also of the sign of the cross being traced on the lips (Jerome, "Epitaph.
On the whole it seems probable that the ultimate prevalence of the larger cross is due to an instruction of Leo IV in the middle of the ninth century.
Hence the signs of the cross continue till the end of the Canon and they may be regarded as mentally referred back to a consecration which is still conceived of as incomplete.
The Sign of the Cross (600 words)
The sign of the cross is a beautiful gesture which reminds the faithful of the cross of salvation while invoking the Holy Trinity.
Technically, the sign of the cross is a sacramental, a sacred sign instituted by the Church which prepares a person to receive grace and which sanctifies a moment or circumstance.
Gradually, the sign of the cross was incorporated in different acts of the Mass, such as the three-fold signing of the forehead, lips, and heart at the reading of the gospel or the blessing and signing of the bread and wine to be offered occurs about the ninth century.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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