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 the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen."
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
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,
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.