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Budded Cross

A stylised cross, common in heraldry as well as Christian iconography



The Budded Cross
also known as the Apostles' Cross, the Treflée, Botonée or Cathedral Cross

Budded Cross Budded Cross
Budded Cross Budded Cross
Budded Cross Budded Cross
Budded Cross Budded Cross
Budded Cross Budded Cross
Budded Cross Budded Cross
Just a few of the dozens of different Budded Cross permutations.

The Budded Cross may have a long stem or all four arms may have the same length. There may be one bud or several. The arm edges may be straight or convex. The arm ends may be straight, convex or concave... and innumerable other variations.

There is a huge variety of Budded Cross styles, all with slightly different meanings, to suit whatever purpose the church or other organisation may wish to convey.

The discs or circles at the ends of the arms may be spherical or rings, but in artwork they are usually assumed to be two-dimensional solid discs.

The Pagan use of the Celtic Cross is well known, where the circle or disc represented the sun. It is believed that design was copied by the early Christians in Europe.

A cross with three circles or discs on each arm in a Christian context represents the Holy Trinity but was probably also copied from earlier Celtic Druidry, where the circles or rings represent the three dominions of earth, sky and sea.

There are several names for this cross, depending on the interpretation. These include Budded, Apostles', or Cathedral Cross, all implying a religious theme, and Treflée or Botonée1 in a heraldic context.

In Abrahamic religious art, each arm of a Budded Cross may have one or more buds, three buds being the most common. Each arrangement can suggest different meanings:

  1. One bud can remind us of Aaron's staff that budded (see Num. 17) and was preserved in the Ark of the Covenant, showing that life can emerge from death and renewed life from difficult circumstances. Or like the buds of a flower representing a journey of growth in faith; flowers growing but not yet in bloom.

  2. Two buds make the cross arms look a bit like bones (see also Bones Cross).


    Full emblem
    (Click image to enlarge)


    Close-up of mitre

    An example can be seen on the mitre in the emblem of the world's oldest national Church, the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church.

  3. Where there are three buds, we are reminded of the teachings in 1 Cor. 13: "Faith, Hope, Love; The greatest of these is love."2


    GOCC
    (Click image to enlarge)

    Christians are also reminded of the Trinity by these three buds, or anything else with a triple design, such as the three-leafed clover3 caps

    Since there are four arms, another name is the Apostles' Cross, with one bud for each of the twelve budding Christian apostles.4

    Triple-budded arms feature on the cross in the coat of arms for the Greek Orthodox Church of Constantinople (GOCC) www.ec-patr.org/.

  4. It is less common to see four buds on each arm, but these, and the four arms themselves, remind us of the four Evangelists.

  5. Even more rare are five buds. Very decorative, and five reminds us of the five wounds suffered by Christ on the cross. (See Passion Cross)

Latin Cross
Latin Cross

A cross with three buds, with or without a corpus, is often an identification mark on signboards and maps for a cathedral, hence it is occasionally named a Cathedral Cross. (Chapel and Church crosses are usually less ornate, such as the Latin Cross.)

Vrnjacka Banja
Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia

Flag of Sumy Oblast, Ukraine
Sumy Oblast, Ukraine
(Click image to enlarge)

The term Treflée Cross, Trefoil Cross, Botonée Cross or Bottony Cross is used more in heraldry. It is an artistic variation of the Cross Crosslet and usually shown with all four arms the same length (to fit within a shield) like the Greek Cross. An example is seen on the flags of Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia and Sumy Oblast, Ukraine.

Maltese Cross
Pattée Cross

The shape of the cross arm also has significance. The arm edges are usually either straight, to give more focus on the buds, or Pattée.

Pomme Cross
Pommee Cross

With larger discs, the cross may be referred to as a Pommee Cross. There is no standard to determine just how big the disc should be to qualify as a Pommee Cross; just as there is no standard to determine how large a hill should be before it is called a mountain. But generally, in a Pommee Cross the discs are wider than the thickness of the cross arms.

Budded Cross ends

The arms ends can be straight across, concave, or convex, depending on whether the designer wishes to show the bud 'attached' to the arm (as in the concave arm end) or 'leaving' the cross (as in the convex arm end).

See also the related Obelisk, Annulet Cross, Fleur de Lis Cross, Nestorian Cross and the Nasrani.


Nasrani

Nestorian
Nestorian

Fleur de Lis
Fleur de Lis

Annulet
Annulet

Obelisk
Obelisk


1: Botonéess is a heraldic term from the French bouton. English: 'button' or 'knob', with various spellings; Bottony and Botonee being the most common. Other spellings include Botonny, Botonnée and Botonné, using mixtures of single and double 't', 'n' and 'e' (with or without an acute).
2: "Faith, Hope, Love; The greatest of these is love." A life of faith, hope and love is necessary to attain everlasting life in heaven. Once in heaven, our faith and hope will have served their purpose, since when the good things believed and hoped for come to fruition, the faith and hope ceases. Love will continue, but not in its earthly, human form. In Heaven, love will be made perfect and we will perfectly love God.
3:
Four-leaf Clover
See also Four-leaf Clover Cross
4: Synonymous with apostle is disciple. Both terms mean a follower of Christ and usually spelt with an initial capital letter when referring to one of the original twelve Disciples. Of course, discipleship is not restricted to those twelve men. In Matt. 16:24 we all have an invitation to be a disciple of Christ. (See also the Consecration Cross. For notes regarding the fund-raising Disciples' Cross, see Cross of Hope.)