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. The heraldic term is Arma Christi. (See also Chi-Rho Cross and other Christograms.)
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 (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 cock, crown of thorns, dice, hammer, ladder, nails, pincers, pot or chalice, reed sceptre, robe, scourge, spear, sponge, stipe, titulus and cross; the latter being His most powerful weapon to defeat evil.
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 England1. 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.