What Does a Cross Pendant Say About You?
Lester Fangonilo - October 5, 2021
There are many reasons why cross pendants are such popular pieces of jewelry. If you wear one or see someone wearing one, what does it say about you/them?
For the most part, wearing a cross pendant has something to do with one’s faith as a Christian or a Roman Catholic: it serves as a visible symbol of one’s belief in the redemption of man won by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and one of hope in life everlasting.
But the meaning behind cross pendants can differ, defined by who is wearing them, that individual’s personality, their beliefs, their reason for wearing a cross, and even the very material and shape of the pendant itself.
What Cross Pendants Mean in the Context of Belief
Using the cross as a personal adornment has been en vogue since the middle of the 2nd Century AD when the Christian philosopher Tertullian declared that Christians, being devotees of the Cross, needed to show a visible example of their faith.
Wearing small wooden or ivory crosses on a strip of leather or a piece of cord became de rigueur among early Christians. Over time, as Christianity became more widespread, wealthier adherents began to commission crosses in precious metals, studded with gemstones, in order to show off their prosperity.
Symbol of personal faith
Regardless of how rich or poor a believer is these days, cross pendants continue to be a strong symbol of one’s personal faith. Indeed, cross pendants are considered the first jewelry that many people born to Christian families receive in their lives, as these are presented as gifts at one’s Christening.
Others, particularly among Catholics, receive cross pendants on the occasion of their Confirmation into the faith, usually at the age of twelve or thirteen.
A rebel/dark streak
On a more sinister note, however, cross pendants are also a popular adornment for younger people who are into the Goth subculture. In this context, cross pendants symbolize the individual’s belief in death and the impermanence of human life.
It is usually worn in an ironic, somewhat funereal manner that essentially thumbs its nose at the Christian belief that the cross, despite being an instrument of execution, symbolizes eternal life. For a Goth, the cross is the symbol of the grave; if inverted, as in the practice of Satanic rites, it also refers to a negation of everything it stands for.
You’re hopeful of humanity
Among non-Christians, cross pendants are also popular as a personal accessory that comes with its own surprising significance. The cross is seen as a surprising symbol of hope for many non-believers who, though they may not choose to attend any particular churches or plan to convert, have seen for themselves how blessed they are or if they have been witness to miracles or serendipitous events.
It may also be seen as a symbol of fortitude and resilience in the face of adversity; the idiomatic expression “one’s cross to bear” is, after all, a commonly used one.
A Note About Ankhs
While not strictly a symbol associated with Christianity, the ankh - a cross-like shape looped at the top - should also be given mention at this point. While related to the resurrection myth of Osiris in the polytheistic religion of Ancient Egypt, the ankh was appropriated by early Christians both as a way of hiding themselves from their persecutors and also as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection.
Many of those who choose to wear ankh pendants, however, tend to lean more towards esoteric New Age beliefs. Goths, particularly those who grew up reading Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel Death: The High Cost of Living and its sequel Death: The Time of Your Life, opt for it as an accessory of choice as it symbolizes both death and the possibility of rebirth.
What a Cross Pendant Says About You in Terms of Form
The shape of the cross you wear around your neck also says a lot about you as a person, as well as your own belief systems.
The Latin cross
This is the most commonly used type of cross in jewelry making and here the post is longer than the crossbars. It is seen as an ecumenical Christian symbol, meaning that adherents from any Christian sect can wear it. It is a classic shape and the wearer may be seen as one who is sensible, steadfast in their faith, and can be reliable.
The Greek cross
Essentially a plus-sign: four arms of equal length. In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, this form of cross represents God Himself in the context of equality and totality. While not as popular as the Latin cross as a form of personal adornment, Greek cross pendants are common among practicing Eastern Orthodox and Russian Orthodox Christians.
It also serves as an identifier of those of Greek or Eastern European ancestry. It is interesting to note that, while it isn’t so popular as a pendant, it is a popular shape for men’s tie pins or women’s brooches.
The inverted cross, as mentioned earlier, has a somewhat sinister meaning. Among those practicing Satanism, it represents a negation of everything Christianity stands for - literally turning the religion on its head. It can also be seen as a symbol of anarchy and rebellion against society’s accepted norms.
However, experts in Christian iconography and hagiography will dispute this particular meaning, mainly because the St. Peter’s cross - an inverted crucifix - represents the martyrdom of the Apostle Peter, the first Pope, who was sentenced to death by crucifixion. Peter told his tormentors that he was but a man and had no right to die in the same manner as his Lord; thus, he was nailed upside-down. Those who wear the inverted cross in the context of Peter’s death are seen as self-effacing and dedicated to doing the right thing at the risk of their own comforts.
In recent years, some celebrities - Christian or otherwise - have been seen sporting sideways cross necklaces. Here, the pendant is connected to its chain in such a way that, when it rests as the base of the wearer’s neck, the cross looks like it’s lying on its side. Some Christian apologists claim that it calls to mind the way Christ laid down his life for humanity. However, many agree that it just looks cool and serves as a somewhat edgy alternative to the classic Latin cross.
Cross pendant necklaces and accessories with crucifixes in them are more than just a fashion accessory. They are a reflection of who you are and what you stand for. It also tells those who see you wear them what you’re hopeful for.
Whichever way you interpret wearing a crucifix necklace, and whatever form you prefer, make sure it’s made of high-quality materials. You can wear your cross pendant with pride and dignity if they’re made with Oliver Cabell.