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crux saint examples shaped

The t-shaped (or Latin) cross ( crux immissa ) is found in art from the early Christian period as a symbol for *Christ and Christianity. In catacomb frescoes, funerary inscriptions, and on sarcophagi, the cross itself predates images of the *Crucifixion and continued to be used as a symbolic device in art through the Middle Ages. Early examples frequently combine the cross with the * Chi-rho monogram of Christ or show a triumphal victory wreath on or around the cross. The Greek letters alpha and omega (signifying totality: the Beginning and the End, Rev. 1:8) may be shown below the horizontal bars of the cross. *Angels may be shown bearing a cross or Chi-rho monogram as an * imago clipeata , and a lamb, or lambs , often carry or flank the cross in early examples.

The equal-armed (or Greek) cross (crux quadrata) is also found in art from the early Christian period (with the same symbolic implications as above), and other variations are to be noted in different regions and contexts. The Coptic T-cross, topped with an oval or a circle, resembles the ancient Egyptian ankh (the symbol for life) and hence was adopted for Christian use in Egypt. The wheeled (or Celtic) cross (a Latin cross with a circle enclosing the upper intersection) is found in early medieval examples in the British Isles. The tau cross ( crux commissa , shaped like a capital T) appears in early examples and is also specifically associated with Saint *Anthony of Egypt.

Other *saints associated with particular cross forms include: Saint *Andrew, whose legend has him martyred on an X-shaped (saltire) cross (Saint Andrew’s cross, or crux decussata ) and Saint *Peter (who was crucified on an upside-down Latin cross).

Crosses used on altars and in processions may be of simple construction or richly elaborated; the crux gemmata (decorated with stones and jewels) is a triumphal image and appears in both two- and three-dimensional media. A jeweled cross placed on a throne is a symbol for the *Trinity.

A cross with two upper bars, the top one smaller (crux gemina) indicates the plaque nailed to Jesus’ cross with the identifying inscription (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the *Jews, or INRI) placed there at the direction of *Pontius Pilate; a cross with an additional short bar placed horizontally or diagonally near the base indicates the suppedaneum , or footrest (this type is most frequently seen in Byzantine examples). The papal cross may have three crossbars of diminishing Page 57  width, indicating the Trinity. Various other cross forms were developed as emblems and heraldic devices, especially during the Crusades; for example, the Maltese cross (a Greek cross with fanned or wedged extremities) for the Order of Saint John and the cross with stylized lilies (or fleurs-de-lys ) at the ends of the bars.

A cross made of leafy or living branches signifies the *Tree of Life. Crucifixion images from the late medieval period may show a dramatic Y-shaped cross. Crosses (with various other devices) also serve as attributes for a number of saints. The cross naturally features in scenes associated with the Crucifixion as well as the preparations and events following and in the tale of the history and discovery of the *True Cross.

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