Religious jewelry is one of the most ancient means of expressing faith and beliefs. For millennia people have worn jewelry with a religious message in order to express their faith. Among Christians, the universal symbol of faith is the cross.
The cross was not always the most recognized symbol of Christian faith. At one time, the fish, or Icthys, was perhaps the most popular. Particularly during early years of persecution, Christians were wary about making themselves known. Christian history tells us that early believers would draw the symbol of a fish on buildings where Christian meetings were to take place to keep them hidden or to secretly mark the location of a believer’s tomb.
It is said that Christians would draw one half of the Icthys in the dirt when meeting a stranger on the road. If the other person drew the other half of the fish, then it was safe to reveal one’s faith in Christ. Doves and other symbols were also associated with the early Christians.
The cross likely became a universal symbol of Christianity under the rule of Emperor Constantine. Some say it originated as an abbreviation since the Greek letter which begins the word cross, looks like a cross. Another Greek letter, shaped like an X, was a common abbreviation for the word Christ. Unde Constantine, crucifixion was done away with as a legal punishment and the converted ruler placed a cross (or an X) on the shields of his soldiers as a symbol of his allegiance to Christ.
The most ancient cross is the Greek cross. This cross is recognized by the equal length of every arm. The Celtic cross is another ancient cross. It is highly ornate and boasts a circle or sunburst around the upper portion. A Budded Cross has clover-like tips to each of the cross’ arms. The three leaf clovers represent the Trinity. But one of the most popular of all crosses is the Latin cross.
Today, crosses as religious jewelry are worn by men and women alike and are immediately recognized as symbols of the Christian faith. They are made from metal, wood or just about any other hard substance and are worn on necklaces, bracelets, as earrings and on key chains or pocket prayer medals.
It is amazing to think that there are still places in the world, where wearing a cross and identifying yourself as a Christian can bring hardship and persecution. We who are free to express our love for Christ and faith in Him can do so in any number of ways. Wearing religious jewelry is one of the easiest. Check out all the many kinds of crosses available at The Printery House.