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Cross

church, sign, christ and person

CROSS, a common instrument of capital punishment among the ancients; esteemed so dishonorable that only slaves and malefactors of the lowest class were subjected to it by the Romans. It was customary to proclaim the name and offense of the person crucified, or to affix a tablet (album) to the cross on which they were inscribed. Malefactors were some times fastened on a simple upright stake, and so left to die, or they were impaled upon it, but very generally a cross-piece was added to the stake, to which the arms of the criminal were tied, or to which his hands were nailed_ The cross was erected o6tside the gates of towns. but in places of frequent resort. The person crucified often lived for days upon the cross. The death of Christ by crucifixion led Chris tians to regard the cross with peculiar feelings of reverence. From the early days of the Church it was a usual emblem of Christian faith and hope, and the first Christians were wont to show great respect to its representations, with Saint Paul °glorying in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ?' The gestural sign of the cross was in general use among them, so that in the 2d century Tertullian writes: °At every step and movement, when we go in or out, when we dress or put on our shoes, at the bath, at the table, when the lights are brought, when we go to bed, when we sit down, whatever it is that occupies us, we mark the forehead with the sign of the cross?' He tells us that the Chris tians were reproached with worshipping the cross. In the Catholic Church blessings and

benedictions are always accompanied with the sign of the cross. The Church has an annual festival commemorative of the finding by Saint Helena, mother of Constantine, of the cross upon which Christ died. Another festival is that of the Exaltation of the Cross, to com memorate a miraculous appearance of a cross in the heavens in 317 at the moment when Con stantine was ordering his army for an attack on that of his rival, the Emperor Maxentius. On Good Friday is practised the usage of the of the Cross,) when the faithful humbly and reverently by kissing the crucifix express their devotion and gratitude to the author of their redemption. In church pro cessions the cross or the crucifix is always borne in the forefront, its bearer, the crucifer, having on his right and left an acolyte bearing a lighted torch or candles. See CROSSES AND CRUCIFIXES and consult the authorities there re ferred to.