Jerusalem Cross

The Crusaders’ Cross

For many people a visit to the Holy City is not complete without a Jerusalem Cross. Another name for this cross is the Crusaders’ Cross. The Cross is a similar design to the cross on the Crusaders’ coat of arms. They also wore the cross into battle on a cloth. The history of the Crusader period is a bloody one.

Wall Decoration Jerusalem by Peter Mulligan ©
The cross design was used long before the Crusaders by a variety of Pre-Christian religions. To the modern day Christian a Jerusalem Cross represents Jesus and the gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. The design is a large cross in the middle with four smaller crosses around it. It symbolizes the spreading of the Christian gospels to the four corners of the world.

Crusader Facts

Some of the crusaders formed an elite order called the Knights Templar. They built many of the medieval structures in Israel. From the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries there were ten crusades. One of the Crusades in 1212 was different. Thousands of children were sent from Europe to the Holy Land. On the journey they were captured and sold as slaves or died of hunger and disease.

The Cross was an official emblem of the papacy. It was handed to the Crusaders by the Pope. In the Middle Ages ‘crusade’ was a term for a kind of warfare. Nowadays, the term has taken on a more spiritual meaning. Europe was completely changed by the returning crusaders. Their contact with Jewish and Islamic philosophy, science, mathematics, literature, art, music and trade was passed on to Europe.

As travelers walk around Jerusalem they will see impressive buildings such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The original church was built by the mother of Emperor Constantine. The Crusaders began changing and adding to the church about 1180 AD. The first self-styled Crusader king of Jerusalem called himself ‘The Defender of the Holy Sepulchre’. He was a Knight Templar and he wore the crimson Jerusalem Cross.

Modern Day Trends Visitors can see a wide selection of this cross. Craftsmen in the city produce this design expertly. Jerusalem has many skilled jewelry designers. This particular cross does come in a variety of styles. But it will always have the five crosses. The designer will decorate the piece in different ways. A popular choice is a cross with filigree work. This is a very fancy decoration and requires a lot of skill.

A Jerusalem Cross does not have to be a devotional piece of jewelry. This design is also used by many people as an attractive accessory. Visitors will see many jewelry designers as they explore the streets and markets of Jerusalem. They will notice that the cross is produced in silver or gold. gold (or semi-gold). The designer will also have a selection of chains. The choice of a chain will depend on the weight of the cross.

Men and Women

A cross for a woman is lighter in weight and the design is more delicate. Many ladies prefer to wear their cross on a piece of ribbon. A light reflecting stone such as the diamond is a very suitable decoration. A lot of people use crystals to decorate jewelry . Crystals are believed to be a biblical stone. Others believe crystals have a healing power. Jerusalem designers are highly skilled craftsmen able to produce unique pieces.

Jerusalem Cross by Ron Almog ©
Men also choose to have the cross decorated with precious stones. A popular stone for the cross design is the ruby. A red stone is mentioned in the Bible and a ruby is used to represent this stone. A more cost effective but equally attractive semi-precious stone is the garnet. Both stones would have been used in the Middle Ages. These stones give an antique look to jewelry. During the Middle Ages ordinary people would not have owned jewelry.

Special Crosses

Another belief for this cross is that the middle cross is Jerusalem and the four smaller crosses are North, South, East and West. For many devoted Christians the cross is a link to the Holy City. The visitor who wants the cross as a religious symbol will find some unique pieces.

Some jewelry designers have used tiny pieces of local rock or stone in the design of the Jerusalem Cross. The stone is expertly worked into the silver or gold of the piece. This idea may be from the Middle Ages. Pilgrims carried a tiny amount of sand back to Europe. The sand would be kept in very expensive and ornate container. Often the container would be in the shape of a cross.

Even today, people still choose to keep Jerusalem close to their hearts.

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