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Trinity Cross

The belief of one God in three persons is quite unique to Christianity



Trinity Cross

Trinity Cross
Triquetra / Trinity Cross

Trinity Cross
Triangle / Trinity Cross

The Trinity Cross can take various forms. Here, we show a couple based on a Latin Cross adorned with a Triquetra and a Triangle1; symbols often used to represent the Trinity.

Sometimes three crosses are shown clustered together, but this arrangement usually represents the three crosses2 on Calvary rather than representing the Trinity.

Trinity
Artist's impression of the Trinity on the portal of the Basilica of St. Denis, France

The Christian concept of the Trinity is not so clear in the Old Testament - it is a belief that was adopted in AD 325 when the Council of Nicea established the doctrine.

The belief of one God in three persons is quite unique to Christianity. Yes, pagan and other religions may have a deity comprised of three gods or goddesses (see also Pagan items adopted by Christianity), but the Trinity is not a copy of other religious thought. It is an understanding founded on careful consideration of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, that shows there is one God in three persons. (Confused?3)

Shapes, such as the triquetra or triangle, are more useful for depicting the Trinity than images often found in early Christian art (see example on the right), where God the Father is shown as a man with a beard, holding an Agnus Dei (symbol of Christ) on a cross, and the Holy Spirit as a Dove, all three being distinct and separate.

For some people, however, the triquetra looks too NeoPagan or New Age. Followers of these religions consider the triquetra as three crescent moons for the Triple Goddesses. The triquetra (or similar) also appears as an everlasting symbol in the Celtic charm and magical talisman known as the Clackham Cross, named after a bridge in Ireland that St. Patrick is said to have crossed4. Some stores sell the Clackham Cross with the promise that it will ensure 'Serenity and Grace' — although how a piece of pewter achieves this is unclear...

So let's look at some alternative designs to represent the Trinity:

Fleurie
Fleurie Cross

Trident
Trident Cross

The liliform Fleurie Cross depicts the Trinity in the triple ends of each arm. However, this cross, like the Fleur-de-lis Cross, Patonce Cross and others, can appear rather secular or heraldic. The so-called Trident Cross might look a bit too neo-Gothic for most tastes.

Triparted Cross
Triparted Cross

The Triparted Cross is another symbol to represent the Trinity, comprising three vertical and three horizontal arms that form one cross by being woven together, somewhat like the St. Brighid's Cross. This is an Interlaced Cross in that each piece is integrated with the others. The resulting twelve arm ends can also correspond with the twelve Apostles.

The United Episcopal Church of North America (UECNA) uses a Triparted design on the central cross in their logo.

UECNA logo
UECNA logo

The other crosses in the UECNA logo are the evangelistic Jersusalem Cross in the top left quadrant and nine Mission Crosses in the bottom right quadrant, one cross for each of the nine original dioceses in the UECNA. The layout of these Mission Crosses was inherited from the shield of the Episcopal Church in the USA. The Episcopal Church was organized shortly after the American Revolution and like the Southern Cross of the Confederate Flag, the Mission Crosses are arranged as a Scottish St. Andrew's Cross. The Scottish link can be traced to the first American Archbishop, Samuel Seabury of the United States Episcopal Church, who was consecrated in 1784 at Aberdeen, Scotland. The UECNA still uses the 1929 Book of Common Prayer of Scotland.

Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod


African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

Another symbol of the Trinity is the logo of the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church. This has three crosses forming one three-dimensional cross, with each part depending on the other two to complete the image. Several other church emblems incorporate a 3D cross.

Latin Cross
Latin Cross

Even the simple Latin Cross can be considered to represent the Trinity. The three shorter beams represent the Three Persons of the Trinity and the longer, lower portion signifies the One Divinity.

If you are looking for a Trinity Cross design and don't fancy anything you have seen on this page, feel free to design a new one. And please share it with us!

Trinity award

Trinity Cross is also the name of a medal, which was the highest national award in Trinidad and Tobago.

This is a special medal on two counts:

  • It was awarded for distinguished and outstanding service to Trinidad and Tobago. In recognition of its importance, no more than five were awarded in any year
  • It was considered by some to be highly discriminatory, in that the cross is a Christian symbol and possibly offensive to 30% of the population who are Muslim or Hindu. The term 'Trinity', if not Christian, stems from 'Trinidad', thereby being discriminatory against the 55,000 Tobagonians. Consequently in 2006 it was replaced by a new award; the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, which is a circular medal featuring a sunburst.

1: See also Eye Cross for another cross featuring a triangle
2: Used to crucify Jesus and the two robbers
3: Three-in-one? Consider a woman — She can be a wife, and a mother, and a sister, and a daughter, and an aunt... yet she is just one woman.
4: Why did the priest cross the road?