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3 Different ways to make the sign of the cross

sign of the cross

Frank Perry | AFP

Philip Kosloski - published on 11/28/23

The sign of the cross can be made in the usual manner, but also in different ways, depending on the circumstance.
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Christians have made the sign of the cross over their bodies for centuries and have done so in a variety of ways.

Many Eastern Christians (such as Orthodox Christians or Byzantine Christians) have a unique way of making the sign of the cross that differs from Roman Catholics.

In addition to this primary variation, there are three particular ways of making the sign of the cross, according to the 1892 book, The Sacramentals of the Holy Catholic Church.

Using the Right Thumb

The sign of the cross in the early Church “was made with the thumb of the right hand, most commonly on the forehead, but it was also on any part of the body.”

Often this method is seen in various sacraments, such as the anointing of the sick or in the rite of confirmation.

Over the forehead, mouth and breast

The second way is “the triple sign made with the thumb on the forehead, the mouth and the breast. At present … it is also prescribed in the Mass at the beginning of … the Gospel but nowhere else in the liturgy.”

Typical sign of the cross

The third way is the typical or most common sign of the cross, as described here, “putting the right hand to the forehead, then under the breast, then to the left and to the right shoulder.

Most are familiar with this sign of the cross, as it is done before saying a prayer, or upon entering a church. It is a method that fits nearly any occasion and is often the first prayer that our parents or grandparents teach us at a young age

However you make the sign of the cross, may you do so in faith, recalling the love God has for you.

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