The Sign of the Cross

Information about the Sign of the Cross

The sign of the cross is a basic prayer that many Christians (mostly Catholic and Orthodox) use before and after other prayers, while tracing the shape of a cross on their body with their hands. The words of the sign of the cross are:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The Sign of the Cross is also regularly said in Latin, because Latin is the official language of the Catholic Church. The Latin version is:

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen


Catholics make the sign of the cross by cupping the right hand, and then touching the forehead, touching the abdominal area, and then the left shoulder and right shoulder.

Eastern Orthodox Christians make the sign of the cross a little differently. They press their index and middle fingers against their thumb (the three fingers symbolize the Trinity), and then they touch their forehead, the lower area of their sternum, and then their right and left shoulders (note that it is reversed from the Catholic custom. Both gestures look like a cross). Neither is "right" from a strict doctrinal strandpoint: it's a traditional prayer that may have variations.

The Sign of the Cross has many effects. The sign of the cross is:

1. A basic confession of faith in Jesus and the Trinity 2. A renewal of baptism 3. A mark of discipleship 4. An acceptance of suffering 5. A defense against evil and the devil 6. A victory over selfishness

Most Catholic and Orthodox make the sign of the cross regularly, before and after almost every prayer. Also, many make the sign when they pass a Catholic church, in honor of the Blessed Sacrament.

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Updated 08-08-2018