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Question:

Catholics kiss their thumb after making the sign of the cross. Why? And how did this begin?

Answer:

I do not know where this originated but it is not very rampant where I live. However, in my travels and in some movies I have seen, I observed the same. I asked a number of Hispanic friends I have and they confirmed they learned by watching their parents or guardians; they weren’t specifically taught to do this in catechism classes or any place they received Catholic formation.

The reason they kiss their thumb is they’re making the sign of the cross with their forefinger finger and their thumb. So, they technically aren’t kissing their finger, but kissing the Cross they make. This is not a bad practice since it is a sign of reverence to the Cross of Christ. It is just like how we learned to kiss the Cross on our Rosaries before praying the Chaplet.

The practice of kissing the Cross is an ancient custom showing a person’s devotion to Christ and also acceptance of one’s own life’s burdens. If done with presentness of mind and reverence, I am sure this could be a source of blessing and grace.

God bless

Raphael Benedict

Raphael Benedict

Raphael Benedict is a Catholic who wants nothing but to spread the catholic faith to reach the ends of the world. Make this possible by always sharing any article or prayers posted on your social media platforms. Remain blessed

3 Comments

  • Rita says:

    In making the sign, the right hand touches the forehead, heart, then left and right shoulders saying: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.” With this sign, Catholics renew the covenant made for them at Baptism, and reaffirm their trust and faith in God.

    Most Mexicans also use an older form of consecration. This sign at the beginning of mass begins with smaller crosses formed over the forehead, lips and heart, ending with a larger normal cross. For some this is a reminder to, “keep Jesus in the mind, on the lips and in the heart.” For others, these smaller crosses are pledges in themselves, dedicating thoughts, words and loving deeds to God. The gesture invariably ends with a kiss to seal the pledge.

    The words which are said are these: “Por la senal de la Santa Cruz, de nuestros enemigos libranos Senor Dios Nuestro.” It means, “By the sign of the Holy Cross deliver us, Lord, from our enemies.”

    At this point the regular sign of the Cross is made. The two “signatures” are differentiated by the terminology used. The first is called the persignarse; the second, santiguarse. The first means, signing yourself; the second, blessing yourself,

    This custom seems to have its origins during the Cristero Wars. During the latter part of the 19th century and up until the late 1930s (or so), Catholicism went underground in Mexico due to a wave of anti-clericalism on the part of the various regimes. To be a Catholic meant an automatic death sentence. Churches and schools were closed and rivers of martyrs’ blood flowed through Mexico (remember Blessed Miguel Pro, SJ, who was martyred as he stood, with his arms outstretched in the form of a cross). In order to preserve the Faith, the faithful were taught to make the Sign of the Cross and kiss the index finger as though they were venerating the actual crucifix (which was kept hidden).

    Personally, when I do this, I keep in mind and heart that Jesus gave His life for me thus I pledge to the best I can be for Him with a kiss and my three fingers standing straight remind me of the Holy Trinity.

  • Margaret says:

    Yes I totally agree!!

  • romar abitria says:

    We kissed the thumb after the sign of the cross to
    proclaim or announce the actual invisible cross a symbol of respect and love.

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