If you’ve been in a Catholic bookstore lately, you may have seen a four way cross. The cross is also known as a cruciform.
The images found on the four way cross teach Catholics about their faith and foundations. For those new to the Catholic faith, the four way cross can be a wonderful start to fostering devotions and learning about the roots of Catholicism. The four way cross encompasses a devotion to saints, Our Lord, and Our Lady.
Unfortunately, the origins of the four way cross are not known for certain. Its origin may be founded in convenience – The four way cross combines four to five medals into one! Have you ever wondered who is found on a four way cross and the meanings behind the saints and holy images depicted in it? Here is a quick explanation!
The Sacred Heart
Found at the top of the four way cross is a depiction of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His heart is exposed, and a crown of thorns sit on top of his head. This image of the Sacred Heart reminds those who wear the four way cross to have a desire for sacrificial love and to show mercy to others as Christ showed mercy through his passion and suffering.
On the left side of the four way cross, Saint Joseph holds both a lily and the baby Jesus. Saint Joseph is the patron saint of the universal Church as well as a happy death. The lily that he holds represents his life of purity. Those who wear the cross are reminded of Saint Joseph’s protection.
Saint Christopher is depicted on the right side of the four way cross. The famous story of Saint Christopher involves him crossing a stream, carrying a vision of the Christ child on his shoulders. The image of Saint Christopher reminds the wearers of the four way cross to always carry the teachings of Christ with them, and not be afraid to stop their day and help those in need.
The miraculous medal
On the bottom of the four way cross is a depiction of the miraculous medal. Mary stands on top of the world and crushes a snake (a symbol of the devil), beneath her heel. This image appears on the four way cross for several reasons. The first is that Mary represents the origin of Christ’s entry into the world. As she crushes the snake, she reminds the wearers of the four way cross that Christ has triumphed over death and evil.
The Holy Spirit
Finally, at the center of the cross is a depiction of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. This symbolizes the sacrament of baptism, recalling how the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove during Christ’s baptism in the Jordan with Saint John the Baptist.
The back of the medal
Often, the back of the four way cross is engraved with the phrase “I am Catholic, please call a priest.” If someone who wears the cross is found in an emergency situation, the cross serves as an important reminder of their faith.