|The Jerusalem Cross|
The Cross (as depicted here) is known today as "The Jerusalem Cross" being the sign associated with the emblem of the "Custody of the Holy Land." It is also known as "The Crusader's Cross." Seen throughout the Holy Land, it primarily marks a sanctuary under the Custody of the Holy Land, and has come to represent various themes. Numerous pilgrims and tourists ask about the meaning of the crosses that are within the one all-encompassing cross.
In early Christianity (before the year 427 AD) there appears in mosaics a similar cross, the "Cosmic Cross." It was originally round with a bold, central cross and 4 smaller crosses surrounding it - within each corner - that symbolized the 4 principal parts of the world. Christians of the early Church liked to portray in this way the supreme majesty of Christ, center of the universe. It is not known if the "Cosmic Cross" was inspiration for "The Jerusalem Cross" or "The Crusader's Cross;" however, their similarity is unique, and the likelihood is great.
Historical information indicates that "The Jerusalem Cross" was first worn by Godfrey de Bouillon, the first to become ruler of Jerusalem during the Crusader Period. The Cross is associated with the Crusader campaigns and evidently, gained popularity in times following. Some interpretations of it are:
a) The four outer crosses represent four of the five countries which
comprised the Crusades (England, France, Spain and Germany); while the center
stood for Italy and the pope. But, more importantly, the central cross symbolizes
Christ - and the Holy Land, their mission.
b) The central cross reminds us of Christ crucified on Calvary who is the Savior of the world. The four outer crosses thus signify the spreading of the Gospel (Good News) to the four corners of the earth; as others say they represent the four Gospels themselves.
c) The 'red' crosses symbolize the five wounds of our Lord, our Redeemer, who offered Himself up as the Lamb of God.
© copyright 1997
Created / Updated Sunday, March 29, 1998 at 17:38:52
by John Abela ofm for the Maltese Province and the Custody of the Holy Land
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