When reading about the Coptic Church, we noticed this cross pattern on several websites listing religious symbols with the caption 'Coptic Cross'. What we did not find, however, was any Coptic Church that actually uses this cross in its iconography.
The design was made some time ago by Rudolph Koch, who gave it the title Koptisches Kreuz (Coptic Cross). This image, together with its English title, have been copied to several websites, with no explanation of the source, resulting in it becoming a de facto Coptic Cross, although not in common use by Copts.
Rudolf Koch (1876-1934), with the collaboration of Fritz Kredel (1900-1973), was an artist credited with 158 ecclesiastical drawings first published in German between 1932 and 1935, and again in English as 'Christian Symbols' by Arion Press in 1996.
The meaning of this cross is not difficult to interpret. The vertical and horizontal bars form a cross representing the Crucifixion of Jesus. The central circle represents the love of Jesus Christ, shining so brilliantly like the sun. The four 'T' shapes1 represent the four nails used to crucify Jesus.
You will notice on the Coptic Cross page that Copts really like fancy crosses, incorporating delicate filigree designs that match the rich cultural heritage of the region. The crosses are usually empty (without a Corpus).
One other common feature is the trefoil nature of the cross arms.
In Rudolf Koch's design we see these three points in the three 'arms' of each T-shaped nail. His labeling of Coptic Cross is quite appropriate and we are not suggesting the name should be changed; simply offering an alternative name: Exploding Cross2.
Imagine now, as Rudolf Koch may have done, the love on that cross so intense that it could not be contained. It exploded. The nails holding Jesus flew in all directions. "It is finished!" he cried3. The prophecies of the suffering of Jesus were fulfilled; the work given by the Father had been perfectly done.
We might see crosses with glory shining from the centre, or flames shooting from them. But the love of God didn't just 'glow' from the cross like a candle; neither was 'emitted', like the heat of a warm fire. It didn't even 'burst' like a firecracker. No, the love of God is so intense that it exploded! The bang was so loud that people are still talking about it 2,000 years later.
The Christian's response to the question whether he believes in Creation4 or the Big Bang, should be: "Both!"
The exploding cross can blow you to kingdom come.