Otherwise known as a crucifix, the Latin cross is said to represent Christ's crucifixion. Typographically, the Latin cross is a derivative of the dagger, or obelisk, used to indicate death.The cross originated as a pagan symbol in Asian and African countries and a platform for crucifixion in Ancient Rome. Before Christians utilized the cross as a representation of their religion, it could have symbolized the four directions, good luck, fertility, life, and the connection between heaven and earth. However, upon the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, the cross took on a new meaning, signifying the selflessness of Christ and his devotion to the people. Worshipping the cross not only spread through Europe, but also dramatically affected European colonies in Africa. In the fifteenth century, it was increasingly difficult for many enslaved Africans to hold on to their cultures and beliefs while entering the New World. Indigenous African religions were stifled by the nineteenth century due to the religious oppression by the white Christian slave owners and the overall disruption of African culture. However, the enslaved Africans were able to incorporate aspects of their religions into Christian theology, allowing for more religious freedom and tolerance. In North America, many Africans were pressured to adopt Protestant beliefs, while in Latin America, enslaved Africans were exposed to a more conventional branch of Christianity: Catholicism.
Last updated: November 5, 2015