Irish Celtic Cross History

The origins of the irish Celtic cross are lost to history and legends. Some feel that the circle represents time cycles; the four traditional Celtic festivals, Lughanasadh, Samhain, Imbolic and Bealtaine; or the house for the dead. Others think that the circle and cross could have represented the moon or the sun during ancient times. In fact, the cross was symbolic of the Earth, the four winds and the four points of the compass in many ancient cultures before the introduction of Christianity.

Roman Emperor Constantine and the Celtic cross
Some think that parts of the Celtic cross are similar the Chi-Rho emblem, which may have arguably been the first Christian cross. The Roman Emperor Constantine (272-337), the first emperor to legalize the practice of Christianity, took the Greek letters "Chi" and "Rho," which are the first two Greek letters in the word "Christ," for his battle standard after having a dream before the Battle of the Milivian Bridge in 312, telling him that if he used the symbol, his armies would win. Although there are different versions in existence about Constantine's dreams on the subject, Constantine and his army did win this critical battle. Despite this, his general acceptance of Christianity, and his involvement in the First Council of Nicaea, which sought to resolve the schisms in doctrine in the early Church, Constantine was not baptized until he was on his deathbed.

St. Patrick and the Celtic cross
St. Patrick went to Ireland during the late fifth century to preach Christianity. There are legends about St. Patrick and the Celtic cross. One has it that he created the Celtic cross himself by drawing a circle around the pagan symbol of the cross to demonstrate how God's love would last for an eternity, or the reverse, that he drew a cross inside of a pagan circle symbol. Regardless of the veracity of these stories, the Celtic cross survived the introduction of Christianity, a testament to St. Patrick's ability to assimilate pagan beliefs into Christian theology.

Celtic jewelry introduced
During the 1840s, Celtic jewelry began to be made in Ireland, part of a growing pride in Ireland's ancient culture. By the 1890s, people started placing Celtic crosses in cemeteries and churches all over the world, wherever communities of Irish and Scotts existed. Today, Celtic crosses cross over the lines of Christian denominations. Many Christians wear Celtic crosses not only to express their faith, but for their beauty. And, many people wear Celtic crosses for their beauty and for their connections back through history to stories that have long since been lost.

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