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Is it proper to wear a cross or must it be a crucifix?

Full Question

What is the proper crucifix to have or to wear? I was told that a cross is not the same as a crucifix. I was told also that a cross represents that Jesus has risen and is proper to wear.

Answer

Some Protestants suggest that because Catholics often depict Jesus on the cross it means that they believe he has not risen. This is, of course, nonsense. Catholics are adamant about the Resurrection of Christ. That’s why it is written into the creed that we say every Sunday.

Depicting the cross bare is not an especially good symbol of the resurrection since the cross probably never stood bare. When Jesus was taken down from it, the crossbeam that his arms were nailed to was probably removed. It is doubtful that after he rose from the dead anyone bothered putting the crossbeam back up.

From a Catholic perspective there is little theological significance for items of personal jewelry whether or not the cross is bare. In a wide variety of art forms, Christians throughout the ages have depicted both Jesus on the cross and the bare cross depending not on theological considerations but on other factors, such as whether the medium they were working in could accommodate the human form easily and whether they had the artistic skill or craftsmanship to fashion a corpus.

Traditionally there has been a preference for showing the corpus when possible, as this is a more vivid reminder of the crucifixion (the crucifixion is the whole point of a cross, after all). However, this is not a theological mandate.

Bottom line: Wear whichever one you prefer. (Though know that most people will identify you as a Catholic if you wear one with a corpus.)










16 comments

  1. Alicia Doxon Reply

    Thank you to whoever asked that question because I often wondered myself. I have a beautiful diamond/ruby incrusted cross but with this cross and have added a Virgen de Guadulupe on a heart and by itself. I do this so that anyone that sees it will know automatically that I am catholic. I have had everything blessed including the cross.

  2. Jim Reply

    For me the symbol of the Ressurection is not an empty cross but an empty tomb!

  3. Ruth Huggins Reply

    I wear a cross with the Risen Christ! I also have a Rosary with the Risen Christ holding the Crucified Christ. For me, these depict that Christ died for me and arose again to Eternal Life.

  4. lindarcooper Reply

    I’ve been wearing a crucifix since some “self-identified” Muslim teenagers spit at me for wearing a cross. I figured, if I’m going to be spit at for being Christian, I’ll really piss them off if I wear a crucifix and identify as a Catholic. I think they thought they scared me…they did, but they also made me very defiant.

  5. ben Reply

    I’ve been curious about this topic since a protestant told me it was blasphemy to wear a crucifix a couple years ago, when I was just returning to the Catholic Church. What i found that really helped me come to a better understanding was when Jesus says to Nicodemus in John 3:14-15 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” and as with the bronze serpent in the book of Numbers, those who look upon the crucifix are healed! Though a normal cross shows your faith I think the crucifix has a much deeper meaning to it!

  6. Mark Sturgis Reply

    An empty cross is just a symbol of roman Torture. Put a man on it and now you have a topic for DISCUSION, who is that man on that cross and why do you depict him in this fashion. The New Evangelization, got to love it.

  7. susan hopf Reply

    IT is much better to wear a crucifix. I have heard that ‘demons in the highest realm cannot stand the sight of a crucifix”.. besides that, yes Poor Jesus suffered terribly for us.. so it is a reminder of that.. It also would be better to wear a plain cross than nothing..but a crucifix is better..

  8. Geraldine Reply

    I read that wearing a Rosary around your neck was disrespectful to our lord Jesus is this true or false ?

    1. juvy Reply

      True . because rosary is sacred and use it in sacred way.

  9. Shirley Reply

    To Geraldine, remember every rosary has the crucifix on which we profess our faith by saying the Apostle’s Creed. You also know Jesus life & ministry including His mother are honored in the mysteries. God knows what’s in all our hearts & minds in all we think, say, & do. Read a little book called “The Secret of the Rosary” by St. Louis De Montfort. My guess is you will never be without a rosary & will understand why our seniors in nursing homes immediately put their rosary over their head to wear it, even if only have one good arm to do it with. They know that the rosary is a powerful sacramental & not jewelry. Saw a news video with a quick view of a Syrian soldier whose shirt was torn open to expose the rosary around his neck. They said he was led away to be tortured & put to death. He risked & lost his life for wearing this sacramental. There was no doubt he was a Christian. When it has been worn that I know of, it is over the neck under clothes, or in a pocket or purse. Nuns & friars used to loop them over a belt to pray throughout the day. God knows why each person has chosen to wear theirs. God bless!

  10. LRC Reply

    I wear a crucifix all the time. One, because I want to be identified as Catholic and two, because some young Muslim guys decided they were offended by the cross I was wearing. It was on the Metro in Paris and all they did was spit…we got off the train and they did follow so it wasn’t awful. But, I did decided I would only wear a crucifix, and the bigger the better.

  11. mary Reply

    I was told by a Catholic nun that I should always wear a cross/crucifix at all times because Christ carried the cross for us, so we should carry a cross for Him.

  12. wesley n Reply

    I have a cross tattoo, that is two infinity symbols that is my reminder that good is infinite in his love and mercy and Jesus will always be there for me, is this bad? I’m genuinely interested in becoming Catholic, since my grandmother was. How do I do this? Email me at socialmediastandin(at)gmail(dot)com please

  13. Top8305 Reply

    There’s always what St Paul said:

    For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
    1 Corinthians 2:2

    …but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
    1 Corinthians 1:23

    Pax Christi

  14. Haroldvs Reply

    But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,4 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Cor. 1:23-24).

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