Always wondered this, why traditionally do Catholics wear the crucifix and Protestant wear empty crosses?

Myself I have both hanging on my wall but wear the cross around my neck. Don’t think I would object if it was a crucifix though.

Just wondered what the traditional differences are and really does it matter?


The typical argument is something along the lines that Catholics are crucifying Christ again in their use of the crucifix. At least that has been my experience with the churches of Christ.

Not all “Protestants!”

Lutherans typically have a crucifix - if not a large one at the front of the church, then certainly one on the altar. How else to visualize what our sin has caused, what our Savior has done for us – and what He brings to us in the Sacrament!

In fact, one tool that Lutherans use to find Lutheran churches even checks: Does the altar rightly have a crucifix?

The Catholic Church uses both crucifixes and plain crosses, but it does matter depending on the purpose.

At Mass we use a crucifix to remind us what the Mass is, namely Christ’s sacrifice, of which the crucifix is a more vivid reminder. The practice of using a crucifix on or near an altar was retained by some Protestants as steido points out, even though most did not retain the Mass itself, or the belief that it is a sacrifice of propitiation and expiation.

In private devotions, Catholics use crucifixes for similar reasons, i.e., to remind us of the source of our salvation and of all graces we receive, of our Lord whom we are to imitate, and so on. Plain crosses can be used for this purpose, but again they are not as vivid a reminder.

There is one special case I know of. A Carmelite monastery (the order to which St. John of the Cross belonged) hangs an empty cross in its chapel as a reminder to put *oneself *on the cross, that is, to deny ourselves, unite ourselves to Christ, and follow him, etc.

I am Catholic and I wear a crucifix in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.

During the years of my deconversion, I was told by Protestants that “the crucifix shows that you believe He is still dead.”


I wear a Crucifix to remind me that without the Crucifix; there would be no Resurrection.

The Crucifix helps us remember what Christ did for us on the cross.

The empty cross helps us remember that Christ is risen.

Both have their place.

My answer for that kind of “wisdom” is 1 Corinthians:

*18For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preachb to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.


After a little digging, and staying up way to late lol, seems the answer Ive found for why protestants mainly use the empty cross is to remind us not of Jesus’s sacrifice, but to remind us that he no longer on the cross and resurrected and at the right hand with God in heaven.

Took a bit to find, and alot of coffee this morning lol

The crucifix is the constant reminder that the crucifixion was an historical event that cannot be denied, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, that we have been crucified with him and risen with him in baptism, and as a bulwark against making Christ into a feel-good guy who only meant to be nice instead of the Lamb of God who came to sacrifice himself for our sake, to satisfy God’s justice. Here are verses that speak to these things:

Acts.2[23] this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. [36] Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."

Acts.4[10] be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well.

Rom.6[6] We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.

1Cor.1[23] but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,

1Cor.2[2] For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. [8] None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

2Cor.13[4] For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we shall live with him by the power of God.

Gal.2[20] I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Gal.3[1] O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?

Gal.5[24] And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Gal.6[14] But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

so I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that each has its own meaning

ie crucifix is a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice to the world and mankind, and the empty cross is a reminder of how he is risen and no longer on the cross.

Is it bad to have both on my wall as a Pentecostal?
Also what do the beads on the chain mean?

Yes, those definitions are fine. As with all such devotional things, though, that’s not all each means. Many find meditating on a crucifix or a cross is spiritually enlightening and uplifting, as well. :slight_smile:

Is it bad to have both on my wall as a Pentecostal?

It’s never bad to have reminders of our faith in Christ visible to us in our homes. I have pictures and statues throughout our house, as well as the crucifix. Whatever aids us in our faith is perfectly fine.

Also what do the beads on the chain mean?

I would guess that that crucifix is attached to a rosary. The rosary is a prayer in which we pray the words of the Archangel Gabriel and of St. Elisabeth to Mary. Gabriel’s being the reminder of Marys’ “Yes” to God to have Jesus incarnate of her body in her womb. And St. Elisabeth’s words to Mary “blessed are you among women” and “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” It ends with a request that Mary pray for us–for we believe, as Jesus taught us, that the dead are not dead but alive to God, and that we are all one body in Christ, as St. Paul taught. The rosary also includes praying the Lord’s Prayer (the Our Father) and the doxology of: “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit…” along with some other prayers added down through the centuries.

I’ll add that the rosary is mainly a prayer of meditation on key events in the lives of our Lord and our Lady. The vocal prayers we repeat on the beads while meditating ensure that we meditate for a few minutes on each event.

I’ve heard that, too. :frowning:

Oh, my. The crucifix shows what He did for me. For us. For ALL of us.
No one before, no one since, and no one else will EVER do anything like this again. So brutal a death. For us ALL.
We would do well to remember this.
The open cross shows that He Lived beyond it in His ressurection.

Sorry for my poor wording, but this issue really bothers me. I posted this same question a while back and it quickly got off topic.

Within the realm of all Christiandom, we could all use both.
When I was a kid I cringed at people looking at one/the other and thinking, “must be Protestant/Catholic.”
Why? Both represent that which we all believe.

Well, that’s a bit better.

Without forgetting, of course, the brutality it took to be at the right hand with His Father.

I completely agree, that’s hope for unity which we all know won’t happen in the near future, but may I add that we are stepping in that direction finally.
Myself I attend mass once and a while to show my support. Also have a priest who I talk to which happens to be friends with my church’s old pastor. My question was more directed why do some see such a big difference? Myself as I said have both hanging next to each other on my wall

That’s what I’d like to know. They are two in one, as far as I am concerned. Kinda like three in one. :smiley:
They both point to Christ and what He did for us.

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