What does the ‘Jerusalem Cross’ mean?

What does the ‘Jerusalem Cross’ mean?

For centuries the Jerusalem cross, also known as the five-fold cross, has been a symbol of Christianity in this city. The emblem has a large cross in the center, with four smaller crosses surrounding it. This cross is a common sight in the Christian Quarter of the Old City. 

I have heard and read several explanations from both local Christians and scholars for the meanings behind the five crosses. Some say that the five crosses are to remember the five wounds of Christ. During the act of crucifixion, He had nails pierce both of His hands and feet and finally a spear thrust into His side, resulting in five wounds.

Many say that the crosses represent Jesus and the four New Testament Gospels. All four point to the centrality of Christ.

Finally, others say that the large cross in the center is Jerusalem, and the smaller crosses are the four corners of the earth or the four winds. In Acts 1 we read that the apostles were to be “witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” 

Jerusalem CrossI think all of the explanations given above are true. The Jerusalem cross represents the wounds of Christ, it represents the four Gospels and it represents the Good News spreading from Jerusalem to the four corners of the earth.

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15)

Why does a Christian pilgrim come to Jerusalem? For two thousand years these pilgrims have come for one primary reason: the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of mankind. People of all races and languages come to remember His sacrifice for them and to retrace His steps on that fateful day. They come because the Gospel which started in Jerusalem reached them in the uttermost part of the earth.

Most of the pilgrims who come make their way down Christian Quarter Road where Zak’s Jerusalem Gifts is located. There, after being hospitably welcomed, they can look at Jerusalem Cross necklaces and pendants. They can choose from a simple silver necklace and cross or more elaborate designs which include ancient coins and Roman glass.

The large cross surrounded by four smaller crosses is a gift or souvenir which is distinctive to Jerusalem. These pieces of jewelry are a way for pilgrims to remember their trip to Jerusalem. Beyond that, the cross is a conversation piece since few people outside Jerusalem are aware of the symbol’s deep meanings.

Most importantly, a pilgrim who purchases Jerusalem Cross jewelry will join countless generations of believers who have chosen this simple symbol to remind them of the death of Christ on the cross. It will help them to “see from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down.”

February 20, 2020

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