Sign of the cross

Position of the fingers while making the sign of the cross in the Byzantine fashion

The sign of the cross (Latin: signum crucis), or blessing oneself or crossing oneself, is a ritual blessing made by members of most branches of Christianity. This blessing is made by the tracing of an upright cross or + across the body with the right hand, often accompanied by spoken or mental recitation of the trinitarian formula: "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."[1]

The movement is the tracing of the shape of a cross in the air or on one's own body, echoing the traditional shape of the cross of the Christian crucifixion narrative. There are two principal forms: one—three fingers, right to left—is exclusively used in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Church of the East and the Eastern Catholic Churches in the Byzantine, Assyrian and Chaldean traditions; the other—left to right to middle, other than three fingers—is the one used in the Latin (Catholic) Church, Anglicanism, Methodism, Presbyterianism, Lutheranism and Oriental Orthodoxy. The ritual is rare within other Christian traditions.

Many individuals use the expression "cross my heart and hope to die" as an oath, making the sign of the cross, in order to show "truthfulness and sincerity", sworn before God, in both personal and legal situations.[2]


The sign of the cross was originally made in some parts of the Christian world with the right-hand thumb across the forehead only.[3] In other parts of the early Christian world it was done with the whole hand or with two fingers.[4] Around the year 200 in Carthage (modern Tunisia, Africa), Tertullian wrote: "We Christians wear out our foreheads with the sign of the cross".[5] Vestiges of this early variant of the practice remain: in the Roman Rite of the Mass in the Catholic Church, the faithful make this gesture on the forehead, on the lips, and on the heart at the proclamation of the Gospel;[3] on Ash Wednesday a cross is traced in ashes on the forehead; holy oil (called chrism) is applied on the forehead for the sacrament of Confirmation (called the Holy Mystery of Chrismation in the Eastern Orthodox Church, as Orthodox call the Sacraments by the name "Holy Mystery"). By the 4th century, the sign of the cross involved other parts of the body beyond the forehead.[3]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Kruisteken
български: Прекръстване
Deutsch: Kreuzzeichen
Esperanto: Krucosigno
euskara: Aitaren egin
français: Signe de croix
한국어: 십자성호
hrvatski: Križanje
Bahasa Indonesia: Tanda Salib
interlingua: Signo del cruce
Bahasa Melayu: Tanda salib
Nederlands: Kruisteken
norsk: Korstegnet
polski: Znak krzyża
português: Sinal da cruz
Simple English: Sign of the cross
slovenščina: Pokrižanje
svenska: Korstecken
українська: Хресне знамення
Tiếng Việt: Dấu Thánh Giá
中文: 十字聖號