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cross

The monstrance is the ceremonial vessel used in during the Roman Catholic Mass to display the consecrated communion host. Although the monstrance has taken many shapes during the period of its use, it typically, takes the shape of a solar cross, with a clear central area made of glass or crystal. The host is usually placed in a small crescent shaped holder within the crystal, called a lunette due to its moon-like shape.

Upon the death of Pope John Paul II, the Vatican televised broadcast only an empty monstrance while preparing to announce the Pontiff’s passing.


An ornate Monstrance or Ostensorium

Related Symbols:
Chi-ro

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The Cross and Flame is the official symbol of The United Methodist Church, adopted in 1968. The cross symbolizes Christ; the flame, the Holy Spirit of Pentecost. The dual flames together with the cross symbolize the trinity.

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This emblem, best known as the “grail cross,” is not a genuine religious or historical symbol, but I receive so many questions relating to the symbol that it is included here. This emblem appears in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” as the emblem of “Brotherhood of the Cruciform* Sword,” the fictional secret society who serve as Guardians of the Holy Grail in the movie.

The design is a Latin cross with an overlaid “chalice” shape.

*cross-shaped

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Known commonly as Luther’s Rose, this symbol was devised as a personal seal by Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation and founder of the Lutheran Church, to symbolize his personal theological beliefs. It is now generally used to symbolize the Lutheran Church.

Luther describes his emblem:

The first thing expressed in my seal is a cross, black, within the heart, to put me in mind that faith in Christ crucified saves us. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.”

Now, although the cross is black, mortified, and intended to cause pain, yet it does not change the color of the heart, does not destroy nature — i.e., does not kill, but keeps alive. “For the just shall live by faith,” — by faith in the Savior.

But this heart is fixed upon the center of a white rose, to show that faith causes joy, consolation and peace. The rose is white, not red, because white is the ideal color of all angels and blessed spirits.

This rose, moreover, is fixed in a sky-colored ground, to denote that such joy of faith in the spirit is but an earnest and beginning of heavenly joy to come, as anticipated and held by hope, though not yet revealed.

And around this ground base is a golden ring, to signify that such bliss in heaven is endless, and more precious than all joys and treasures, since gold is the best and most precious metal. Christ, our dear Lord, He will give grace unto eternal life.

The traditional cross of the Lutheran Church is a regular Latin cross with the seal superimposed; sometimes the rose is omitted, leaving a cross within a heart.

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The Chi-Rho emblem can be viewed as the first Christian Cross.

As a pre-Christian symbol, the Chi-rho signified good fortune. The Chi ro became an important Christian symbol when adopted by the Roman Emperor Constantine, representing the first two letters in the name of Christ- the Chi, or ‘ch,’ and Rho, or ‘r.’ According to Church Father Eusebius, on the eve of the Battle of the Milvan Bridge, the Emperor saw the emblem in a dream, with the inscription, “By this sign, you shall conquer.” According to the story, the battle was won. In return for the victory, Constantine legalized the religion and erected Christian churches.

There is some speculation that the ‘sign’ witnessed by Constantine was an occurrence of the sun dogs phenomena.

Unfortunately, this story is very unlikely, as Constantine’s conversion occured on his deathbed, if at all. In any case, the symbol was the standard of the Emperor’s army, prominently displayed on the Emperor’s labarum, or battle standard.

Before it became the monogram of Christ, the chi rho was the monogram of Chronos (whose name also begins with a Chi-rho), the god of time, and an emblem of several solar deities.

The Chi-ro is also the origin of the tradition of abbreviating “Christ” in “christian” or “Christmas” to “X.”  The small letters in the image are the alpha and omega.

In Hebrew, Chi-Rho equates to Tav-Resh. The chi rho was used in hermetic alchemical texts to denote time.

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The Rose Cross originated as a Christian symbol in the first century, as a symbol of the blood of Christ, and a mystery of sacrifice.  The earliest rose crosses were a variation of the Christian ankh or crux ansata, and are associated with the Coptic (Egyptian) church, and related Gnostic sects. The rose and cross was later adopted and popularized as the primary emblem of the Rosicrucians, an apocryphal secret society that originated during the Renaissance.

The rose symbolized the redemptive power of the blood of Christ; the symbol as a whole illustrated the triumph of spirit over matter. A deeper, hidden significance of the symbol is the union of the rose of Mary with the Cross of Christ, the union of the divine feminine with the divine masculine.  The shape of the rose cross suggests the rosary or the mirror-cross of Venus. According to Rosicrucian philosophers, the whole Rosicrucian philosophy could be found within the symbol. The rose cross was adopted as a Hermetic occult symbol during the Middle ages, and was later popularized by the Nineteenth century magical order the Golden Dawn. The esoteric meaning of the cross is quite similar to the original; the cross symbolizes the material plane, and the cycle of death and rebirth. The rose represents the unfolding nature of spiritual growth. When the equal armed cross is employed, it has a secret significance: the word lux, or light, can be found hidden in its arms.

The Victorian-era magical order the Golden Dawn used the rose cross as a special symbol of study, the emblem of the philosophy of the order.  The central rose also functioned as a device for creating sigils, with twenty two petals representing the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

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