Signum Crucis (Sign of the Cross)

Did you know there’s more to the Signum Crucis (Latin for Sign of the Cross) than expressing our belief in the Trinity and the Cross?  If you’re like me sometimes, you like to skip ahead to the answer.  If you’d like, you can skip to the end as I’ve bolded the answer.  But that’s just the 3rd (not so obvious) mystery that we declare to believe when we cross ourselves.  But do read that whole last paragraph as there’s theological significance to each hand motion (how cool!) of the Sign of the Cross.

It would be appropriate for my very first blog in the history of ever to be on the Sign of the Cross, just as we do this to start each of our prayers.  And hopefully the life of this blog will be such as how we live our lives (in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.)  AND this may be providential just being posted 3 days after the Feast of Holy Trinity!  (this blog was planned within a week prior to the Feast day, however, but wanted to wait to invite as many people to the blog before this release).

Anyhow, (also providential was the timing of coming across this in my spiritual reading) the following paragraph is by far the best commentary on the Sign of the Cross that I’ve ever read in terms of the prayer itself (its effects would be for another blog).  If you have something better, please share as I’m open to feedback!  I’ve taken graduate level classes on God the Father, Christology, and Holy Spirit/Ecclesiology.  And because you can’t cover all the depths of our saints’ writings in just one semester, I didn’t come across this.  But I’m optimistic that most of you may not have come into something as rich as this.  My future Signs of the Cross will be said more devoutly because of this.  You may not learn anything theology wise, but it gives you great points to bear in mind as you go through each motion.

And without further ado, Saint Francis de Sales said the following in his book, The Standard of the Cross: 

“We raise the hand first to the forehead, saying: ‘In the name of the Father,’ to signify that the Father is the first person of the Most Holy Trinity, of whom the Son is begotten and from whom the Holy Ghost proceeds.  Then saying: ‘and the Son,’ the hand is lowered to the breast, to express that the Son proceeds from the Father, who sent Him down to the womb of the Virgin.  Then the hand is moved from the left shoulder or side to the right, while saying: ‘and of the Holy Ghost,’ thereby signifying that the Holy Ghost, as the third person of the Holy Trinity, proceeds from the Father and the Son, that He is the love that unites both, and that we, through His grace, partake of the fruits of the Passion.  Accordingly, the Sign of the Cross is a brief declaration of our faith in the three great mysteries: namely, of our faith in the Blessed Trinity, in the Passion of Christ and in the forgiveness of sin, by which we pass from the left side of curse to the right [side] of blessing.”

And if you want to be old school like me, you can also say the Sign of the Cross in Latin! “In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.”

Going old school,
Mike Panlilio

11 thoughts on “Signum Crucis (Sign of the Cross)”

  1. This is such a great reminder. Everything we do, everything we say, everything we seek to ponder, will begin in grace if we seek to make that act of faith before we start by making that powerful Sign of the Cross. It takes so little time, but we tap into a power so immeasurable and in that moment, become greater than we are and open ourselves to the finest and most pure inspirations.

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  2. I also came across Saint John Vianney on the Sign of the Cross…he added that we point to our head for God the Father as our Chief and Creator, to our heart for Jesus as love, life, and Redeemer, and to our shoulders for the Holy Spirit giving us strength! Amazing!

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  3. ‘Signum Crucis’. Talk Latin to me! Great post. I loved that description of the Sign of the Cross at the end – I never knew the depth of the motion! And how you unpacked that before it…

    Liked by 1 person

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