Friday, March 25, 2011


This cross I see all over the place. It is found in cemeteries and table and altar tops, particularly in certain Protestant denominations. I even owned one once. Well, a crucifix one like this. But I never knew what the three steps were at the bottom. Where they just decoration? An artistic way to keep a top heavy object from falling over?

Well, in fact it does have a name and a purpose. It is called a Calvary Cross, or stepped or altar cross. As a Calvary Cross the name makes sense since it was on Calvary that Christ was crucified. The steps going up represent the small mount that Christ climbed with His cross. Of course the steps are symbolic for the mount and the base of it, that which upon the rest is built, represents love. The step above is hope which Christ gives us in the great act of His, and the last, of course, is faith in which the Cross is planted.


Wayne said...

Interesting. I guess those three steps could really represent a number of three things in the Faith, but I immediately thought of the three times Christ falls on his way to Calvary. Great Lenten reflection on the endless pursuit of our freedom that Christ endured. He would not let himself stop.

Thanks for this!

Pat said...

I have a beautiful one from my grandparents' home but I never knew it had a special name.

NCSue said...

Fascinating. As a former Protestant (entered the Church ~ 15 years ago), I was unaware of that... but then again, it seems to me that Protestant churches are nowhere near a full of symbolism as Catholic ones, and the meaning of the symbols in their churches is often lost or obscured.