Being the most revered icon of the world’s largest religion, the cross is undoubtedly one of the most recognized symbols in the world. However, few know how large an actual cross, the kind that is actually used to torment the condemned, is.
To learn more about the size of a cross, it is important first to learn that although the everyday symbol that Christians know as the ‘cross’ is pretty much universal, there are several types that were also considered to be crosses in the ancient world. This leads to a variation into the sizes of actual crosses.
While most think of the cross today as composed of an upright beam with a horizontal stake across, the most common of a ‘cross’ that is used to punish the condemned is a simple vertical stake. This is reflected in the Latin name for this variation, crux simplex, which means simple cross, or in Greek monos stauros which means single stake. The condemned is tied, nailed, or sometimes impaled in the stake. The size of a cross that is of this variation is usually around seven meters long.
Another variation of the cross is the crux decussate, or St. Andrew’s cross which looks exactly like the letter X. Legends tell that this variation is named so because the aforementioned saint was martyred on a cross of this kind. Since the cross used is almost always a few meter longer than the height and appendage of the condemned, it is safe to conclude that the size of a cross of the St. Andrew’s variation is around four-five meters long for each of the stake.
Two kinds of cross variations are said to be the likely kinds on which Jesus Christ was crucified. One is the crux commissa and the other is the crux immissa.
The crux commissa, unlike the common, cross that Christians are accustomed to, lacks an appendage at the top and is shaped like the letter T. The common cross that most are familiar with is the Latin cross which is a vertical stake crossed by a horizontal beam near the top.
Both of these are said to be the cross referred to in the Bible and the size of a cross of either of this variation is said to be three to four meters high, with the beam across being a little shorter than the upright part. The size of a cross that are of either variations are said to be two meters in terms of width.
Although the cross is a familiar symbol for many, it has many variations and this is why the size of a cross varies according to its several distinct shapes.