Understanding The Coptic Cross

By Frank Logi   06-16-2013

Coptic Orthodox books and products

Copts are a group of Christians living in North Africa, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Egypt. They wear the cross around their necks or have it tattooed on the inside of their right hands or wrists as a sign of their faith. This article presents some information regarding the Coptic crosses including their origin, uses and relevance.

Origin, Symbolism and Evolution
Mark the Evangelist, widely believed to be the first man to introduce Christianity to Africa, is perhaps responsible for the earliest forms of the Coptic crosses.

The cross was probably used by Christians as way of identifying themselves to each other and to other non-Christians during the budding days of the Christian sect. The use of the Coptic crucifix as an important symbol of identity of faith persists to date.

The cross symbolizes the Christ and His sacrifice that He made for the sake of humankind. Such sacrifice, embodied in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in whom the Copts believe, is a representation of the ultimate love that God had for His people.  The old crosses include a centered circle which may be either small or large. The circle symbolizes the eternity of God's love to the people.

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The Coptic crucifix has evolved over  time.  The earliest forms comprised two perpendicular bars with a conspicuous circle located at the top of the cross. This was the Coptic ankh and, in sometimes, the circle covered the entire top bar. In some early Coptic crosses, the top bar was shortened and the circle included at the top.

Today, the form of Coptic Church recognized by the Coptic Church entails two bold lines of identical length, crossing at right angles at the middle.  Each angle has three points, representing the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In addition, in total the cross comprises twelve points. The points symbolize the twelve apostles appointed by the Christ with the purpose of evangelizing the Gospel to all corners of the world.

Uses of the Coptic Cross

The Coptic cross is used by Christians of the Coptic faith. It is used mainly as a representation of the faith. In this regard, Coptic Christians wear it to act as identity of their faith. It distinguishes them from other Christian denominations such as Catholics and Anglicans. The cross also acts as a sign of pride for the Christians. They use it to demonstrate the fact that they are proud copts who are happy to be associated with the Christian sect. The Coptic crucifix is aesthetically beautiful owing to the variety of detail that it comprises. As such, people visiting North African regions with Coptic populations like to buy them as mementos.

All in all, the Coptic cross is a religious symbol that acts as a sign of faith identity. It represents the Holy Trinity and God's eternal love. Commonly used by Coptic faithful in parts of North Africa, the cross is incredibly detailed and beautiful, which explains why visitors to North African states such as Egypt and Ethiopia purchase the cross as a memory of their visits..

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