( skip to main content )

The Sign of the Cross

Index to articles:

The Sign of the Cross

Sign-of-the-Cross-final

The sign of the Cross has been used by Christians since the time of the Apostles. It is a pious act, which the Orthodox Christians make in the following manner; the thumb, the index and the middle finger of the right hand are joined together, while the remaining two fingers are bent and touching the palm of the hand. At first, the forehead is touched, then the breast, the right shoulder and the left shoulder.

Besides the impression which the sign of the Cross makes on the senses, it reminds us of its spiritual meanings. The three fingers joined together symbolise the Oneness of God in the three Persons of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The two fingers, pressing the palm of the hand, signify the union of the two natures in Christ, the Divine and the Human The touch of the forehead signifies that God is in our head (in our mind), the touch of the breast signifies that God is in our heart (in our feelings), the touch of the shoulders signifies that God is in our limbs, directing them as He wills. In other words, by the sign of the Cross we dedicate to the service of God all the power of our mind, heart, and soul.

We are led to this service of God by means of the sign of the Cross, because it reminds us of Christ's death on the Cross, to which "God gave His only-begotten Son" out of His love to the world (John 3:16). The sign of the Cross on our bodies is also a prayer for God's blessing upon us and others. It has often proved a protection against evil, whether in one’s inner thoughts or outward actions, when made in true faith in its power.

Therefore, we rightly make the sign of the cross when we start and close our prayers; when we enter a Church; when we kiss the Icons of the Saints; when the name of the Persons of the Holy Trinity, the name at the Virgin Mary, and of the Saints are pronounced during the Services; when sacred instances occur during the Divine Liturgy; when we start and finish our meals; and on many other occasions. Its frequent repetition, when we are mindful of its significance, can become to us a source and fountain of every blessing.

BACK TO TOP