What is the Meaning of the Jerusalem Cross?

jerusalem cross
The Jerusalem cross symbolizes both the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as well as the gospel message being spread to the four corners of the earth.

The cross is the most common symbol among believers in Jesus. There are different variations of the cross, like the Leviathan cross, the inverted cross, the Latin cross, the Celtic cross, etc. The Jerusalem cross is one such variation.

Also known as the five-fold cross, the Jerusalem cross has a more elaborate design than Christianity’s main cross.

What Is The History Behind The Jerusalem Cross?

The Jerusalem cross contains one large cross and four smaller Greek crosses in each quadrant. It is also known as the Crusader’s cross, and the sign originated around the 11th century.

Jerusalem crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099, overthrowing Islamic rule. Godfrey de Bouillon, one of the leaders of the Crusaders, was the one to adopt the Jerusalem cross.

The cross was the symbol of the new Christian state and symbolized Jesus Christ. The Jerusalem cross continued to reflect the Christian authority even after the overthrowing of the Crusaders from the holy land in 1291.

Jerusalem cross
The crosses within the Jerusalem cross represent the four Gospels and the spread of the Gospel to the four corners of the earth.

Even now, the cross of Jerusalem, or the Crusaders’ cross, is regarded as the emblem of order and the esteemed Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Symbols And Usage Of The Jerusalem Cross

While the Jerusalem cross was once used as a sign of Christian authority in the Holy Land, there are different symbols associated with it. Most of these symbols have religious connotations.

Symbol Of Christ’s Sacrifice

The five-fold of the Jerusalem cross is often related to the five wounds of Christ. The large or central cross is related to the wound on Jesus’s ribs where he was pierced.

The smaller crosses represent the wounds found on Jesus’s hands and feet where he was nailed. Therefore, the five crosses stand as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice for humans.

Symbol Of The Four Evangelists

Another interpretation of the Jerusalem cross is that it represents Jesus and his four evangelists: Mark, Matthew, John, and Luke.

The symbol means that Jesus was at the center of the gospel, and his four evangelists only wrote about him.

jerusalem cross

Worldly Representation

The Jerusalem cross also represents the four corners of the earth, and the central cross represents Jesus. This echoes Jesus’s promise to his apostles in Acts 1:8 that they would be his witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Used For Coinage

King Henry II of England used the Jerusalem cross during the 12th century for coinage. He ordered the minting of a special coin called Cross and Crosslets. Henry himself participated in the crusade. He was astonished by the beautiful crafting of the Jerusalem cross and decided to include the symbol in the coins of England.

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Here the Jerusalem cross is carved into stone.

Is The Jerusalem Cross A Pagan Symbol?

The Jerusalem cross is not a pagan symbol. Since it was adopted, the Jerusalem cross has been used as a symbol of Christianity.

Is The Jerusalem Cross The Symbol Of Jerusalem?

As mentioned above, the Jerusalem cross is a symbol of the holy kingdom of Jerusalem. The cross was first adopted by the crusaders when they established Christian rule in the city.

Is The Jerusalem Cross Offensive?

No, the Jerusalem cross is not considered offensive. It is considered by Christians to be a holy symbol that reflects Christianity and Jesus’s sacrifice for humans. And the Crusader’s cross is one of the primary Christian symbols.

The symbolism associated with the cross also denotes positive meanings.

Modern Usage Of The Jerusalem Cross

The Crusader’s cross still holds religious importance in different corners of the world, particularly in Jerusalem. You’ll still find people wearing the Jerusalem cross pendant to express their religious faith.

This Christian cross is a common souvenir item in shops outside the church because of its importance.

The Order of the Holy Sepulcher uses the cross as an emblem of their organization. Also, the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, a Catholic organization, still uses the Jerusalem cross.

This organization takes responsibility for preserving the holy spots in Judea and Jerusalem. Hence, they kept the Crusader’s cross.

In the 20th century, some branches of the Protestant church adopted the Jerusalem cross as their primary religious symbol.

The Jerusalem cross is also featured in the national flag of Georgia. Georgia adopted the current flag after its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Interested in learning about other cross symbols? Check out this article on the St. Peter’s Cross.


Vanessa's liberal arts background has prepared her well for Symbol Scholar. A self-proclaimed theology nerd, Vanessa has interests in world religions, Reformation theology, history, and more. When she's not working, Vanessa enjoys spending time with her family, reading, exercising, and watching professional basketball.

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