Arms of Christ Cross

A cock, crown of thorns, dice, hammer, ladder, nails, pincers, pot and sponge... they don't sound much like armaments.

This page explains how they became weapons in Christ's armoury for defeating evil. Collectively, these implements are called the Arms of Christ.

  • Christ the Redeemer
    Christ the Redeemer (shown right) is a cross shaped from an image of Jesus Christ with outstretched arms welcoming people to his embrace. This 40 metre high statue stands atop Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    But it is not the Arms of Christ Cross.

  • St. Francis Cross
    Arms are crossed on the Franciscan logo with a Tau Cross, but this also is not the Arms of Christ Cross.
  • Arms of Christ Cross
    One could be excused for thinking the Arms of Christ Cross is a representation of the Crucifixion of Christ with arms splayed on the cross, as customarily depicted on a crucifix.

    But it isn't.

Arms of Christ Cross

Arms of Christ Cross

On this page, we take the definition of 'arms' to mean armaments or weapons. The Arms of Christ Cross is Christ's armorial bearings or coat of arms, and the heraldic term is Arma Christi. (Other Christograms include the Chi-Rho Cross.)

This weaponry adorning the cross is not to be confused with today's military weapons, rather they are the weapons used by Christ in his Passion (see 2 Cor. 10:3-5).

As seen in the illustration (above left), Christ's armoury was extensive and images often include just a selection from the vast inventory of implements associated with Jesus' Crucifixion. For example, a

the latter being His most powerful weapon to defeat evil.

Reverse side of a crucifix
Arms of Christ on the reverse side of a crucifix

The Arms of Christ can be found in paintings, stained glass windows, sculptures and as shown on the right, pendants.

The photo of this old crucifix heirloom, just an inch long, was kindly sent to us by Deborah Duffy in England. The reverse of the crucifix clearly shows the three nails, crown of thorns, dice and ladder. The item beneath the crown may be a sponge on a rod or a lance, and the whole piece is a wonderful aide-mémoire to the wonderful story.

The Arms of Christ is an ancient arrangement of implements associated with the Passion. For more than 1,000 years this imagery has been used by Christians to contemplate Christ's suffering.

Follow the links above to read more about each weapon in the armoury.

Coincidentally, Deborah comes from a tiny village which we happen to mention on our tongue-in-cheek look at Railway Crosses


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