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Cross and Crown

This cross should need no introduction for Christians, since it symbolises their basic beliefs: Jesus died on the cross wearing a crown of thorns, and rose again to be to be crowned Christ the King.

Cross and Crown

Cross and Crown
Cross and Crown

Crown with a portate St. Gilbert's Cross
Crown with a Portate Cross

Cross and a crown of thorns
Cross and a crown of thorns

Cross and a crown
Logo of Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (
(Click image to enlarge)

Cross and a crown
Crown of smaller crosses on logo of National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc (
(Click image to enlarge)

Cross and a crown
Cross and a crown of a Church of God logo, similar to the Trident

Crowns are often spiked, like rays of the Sun. This is no coincidence, since crowns have long been associated with power bestowed on the wearer by the ancient Sun god. Thus they are worn by royalty and those in supreme authority, and granted to those who deserve to wear them.

Several parts of the Bible1 give promises of the ultimate crown to all who are worthy. Interestingly, the first reference in the Bible to 'thorns' is when God created them as punishment to Adam for his disobedience. Christ accepted the crown of thorns as a symbol of sin and punishment to atone for our sins.

The crown of thorns was an attempt by the soldiers to mock Jesus, as they also did by placing a scarlet robe over Him and a rod to hold as a sceptre2. (See also Arms of Christ.) The crown of thorns also reminds us that whilst we might suffer on earth (bear our cross); the ultimate reward to those who believe in Christ will be eternal life in heaven (our crown).

The cross with the crown is sometimes depicted at an angle (see St. Gilbert's Cross), as it would have been when Jesus dragged it up the mound at Golgotha. The crown in this symbol can be in the normal wearing position, as shown in the lower image on the left, or up-ended, as in the upper image on the right and similar to the circle in a Celtic Cross. Whether the cross is adorned with a crown studded with jewels or a rough crown of thorns, the message is the same. (See Unique Crucifixion by Rev. David Linde).

For some Christian monks, it used to be common to shave the crown of the head leaving a circle of hair known as a tonsure. There were several reasons for this and one was to remind the wearer of the crown of thorns.

A relic of the crown believed to have been worn by Jesus is currently housed in Notre Dame, Paris, and has been identified as Zizyphus Spine Christi. This species of thorny bush still grows around Jerusalem.

In various religions, a skull cap (kippah, taqiyah, turban, etc.) may be worn as a mark of humility. For priests, as a mark of their temporal responsibility, headgear is almost invariably more distinctive and the mitre is a good example of this. In some churches, especially Eastern, the mitre of an archbishop takes the shape of a crown. This is often topped with a small standing cross of whatever style is associated with the denomination.

The crown symbolises the sovereignty of Christ and sometimes features on the coat of arms of churches, including:











(Click any image
to enlarge)

The cross and crown symbol is used by several churches; Baptist, Lutheran and Catholic, for example. However, the symbol is not exclusively Christian – it is also used by the Freemasons3, and from there became a logo for both the Christian Scientists4 and the Jehovah's Witnesses. A related heraldic cross is the Engrailed Cross.

See also the crown in the Claddagh Cross, the Military Cross and the Lutheran Cross of the Church of Sweden.

1 :Ps. 103:1-4, 149:4, Isa. 35:10, 1 Cor. 9:25, 2 Tim. 4:8, Jas. 1:12, 1 Pet. 5:4, Rev. 2:10
2 :Matt. 27:29, Mark 15:17, John 19:2, 5
3 :See also Salem Cross
4 :The five-starred crown with cross is currently a trademark of The First Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Science). Their founder, Mary Baker Eddy, is reported to have had strong links with Freemasonry and married a Freemason. Like Mormonism and Theosophy, Christian Science is another 19th century pseudo-religion. A brief study of their beliefs shows that "Christian Science" is an oxymoron.

Despite borrowing heavily from mainstream Christian imagery, and vocabulary, Christian Science denies all the fundamental Christian dogmas and rejects belief the divinity of Christ or even a personal God. Both sin and evil are considered by them to be illusions; salvation and heaven, damnation and hell do not exist because death is also an illusion.

Despite having a textbook named Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, stating that viruses are 'illusions' is not scientific. Disease is very real, and can be treated with modern medicine. Christian Scientists have attracted negative publicity for many decades over their refusal to accept medical assistance, even for their sick children. In recent years however, as their membership dwindles, their approach has softened and members are now permitted to seek treatment from regular doctors. But their doctrine remains a significant distance away from what most people consider to be Christian.