Gold Catholic Cross Necklaces (cultural question)

I hope this is the right forum to post this survey.

I have made observations that 85-90% of Catholic Italians and Hispanics wear gold cross necklaces. However, it seems in my experience that German and Irish Catholics do not wear these gold necklaces to the same degree . Maybe some of the Eastern Orthodox (especially Greeks) do, but I am not sure.

My hypothesis for why Hispanics and Italians wear them far more than Irish and Germans is because the governments of Spain and Italy have always been run by Catholics, whereas the governments of Ireland (UK) and Germany were run by Protestants. Protestants were known to be “iconoclasts”, and they did not approve of any kind of flashyness when it came to religion.

Is this theory correct? Can anyone else comment on this?

That’s an interesting theory and there could be cultural reasons for differences in the wearing of crosses though I don’t know if they would be for the reasons you hypothesise. Especially considering that Ireland is actually predominately Catholic and even Northern Ireland has a significant Catholic population. With a country that heavily Catholic, I doubt Protestant iconoclasts would have had much effect.

My husband wears a gold cross necklace. His mother gave it to him as a gift for confirmation way back when and he rarely takes it off. He is Norweigan and German, by the way. :slight_smile:

I think it simply is a matter of personal preference or family tradition. There are also plenty of people wearing crosses simply as a fashion statement and not as indentifying themselves as suffering along with Christ.

I have no data except that I’m Irish American and I wear my gold cross that my parents gave me for my confirmation everyday. In fact, I worn it almost everyday since I got it 14 years ago!

In the (heavily Catholic) German state of Bavaria, much of the jewelry associated with the traditional Alpine folk dress seems to be silver rather than gold. Don’t know if that has any bearing on things, however.

Maybe it’s more of a regional thing? Most practicing Catholics I know either wear a crucifix or some sort of medal, regardless of ethnic background. I wear a miraculous medal, my son wears his St. Francis medal, and my husband wears a crucifix. My daughter is not fond of wearing jewelry, but probably will as she gets older. We are a mix, but mostly German/Irish/French/and who knows what else.

Remember that I am referring to the governments at the time immigrants moved to America. When the Irish moved here in the 1850s-1900s, they were a colony of Protestant Britain. Catholicism was basically forbidden because it was a sign of Irish culture.

Oh yeah this seems to definitely be the case with a TON of people from Mexico and Sicily especially.

Could be due to poverty as well…I don’t know. I wear usually a chain with my 3rd order medal,a crucifix and a MM in 100% base metal.

this is a VERY racist statement. you seem to be under the impression that all Mexicans are in gangs and all Sicilians are Mafiosi. This is DEFINETLY NOT the case. i happen to be Siciliano and have a lot of Mexican friends and ALL are very very catholic and wear their gold religious symbols out of respect for God and their culture.

And to answer your original question. there are actually a couple different answers, because there seem to be a couple different questions.

#1- many protestants wear cross but hardly ever wear crucifixes- this is due to their iconoclaism beliefs.
#2- you will find that northern europeans will traditionally, on average, wear less gold than southern europeans. this goes back to the founding of these traditions when Rome was the height of power and wealth in the known world, and wearing gold became an expression of power and respect, and as far as the Church was concerned, it was a material that glorified God. thus southern europeans, the people that were wealthier and recieved christianity first combined their traditions of wearing gold with that of their religion

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Maybe it’s because a lot of religious shops sell gold confirmation crosses since a large amount of people like the gold as opposed to silver. Not to mention since gold holds a higher value than silver the use of gold could be a symbolic way for someone to express how much they value their faith. :shrug:

[FONT=Arial]Other factors that could play a role could be allergies since I know my mother was allergic to gold which is why she always wears silver.

Originally Posted by Don Machiavelli
Oh yeah this seems to definitely be the case with a TON of people from Mexico and Sicily especially

Racist statement?!?!?!?. I’m throwing the flag. Fifteen yard penalty for over mis-reacting and mis-statement. Still first down.

Play on.

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My husband is of Italian descent (on his mom’s side; his dad’s side is not Catholic) and has worn a gold crucifix that was his grandfather’s since he was in high school. I think he may have received it at his Confirmation, but I am not sure. It is usually not visible as he wears it under his clothing.

I am of German, English, and Scottish descent and wear a Miraculous Medal on a silver chain (given to me by a priest, actually), but I am a convert so I don’t have much “cultural Catholic heritage” to speak of, except what I’ve borrowed from DH’s family. :smiley:

As to people wearing the cross without being religious, I would say we can’t know what goes on in people’s hearts but I would certainly hope that wearing the cross would help them grow in God’s love and recognize its significance.

My confirmation cross necklace is gold, and my first Communion one is a silver type color.

I am a mix of various European ancestries including Irish and Central/Eastern European myself.

I live in a heavily Hispanic, Catholic area and have not noticed this at all, so cannot comment.

I am Sicilian and don’t see how the statement was racist at all. No one said a thing about gangs and the Mafia. Where I live there is a large ethnic diversity of many different hispanics, not just Mexicans, and ethniticy has no bearing on someone’s relationship with God.

Back to the original Question:

I have noticed that in looking at all of my relatives who came over in the early 1900’s, those who were peasants didn’t have gold jewlery to buy and purchased silver but those who were a bit better off and had some farmland were more into the gold sacramentals. It is still the same way now. One buys what they can afford to venerate the Lord.


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No it was not, you are refering to the penal laws which had ceased to be effective and had been to a large extent rescinded by that point. You would be create in saying Catholicism was looked down upon and Catholics were often stigmatised and unable to enter the higher realms of society, particularly in the earlier years of the period you are referencing. However the laws forbidding public use of the Mass etc. had fallen into disuse or been struck out.

Also it is reductionist to address the whole sweep of Irish history as Ireland as a colony of Protestant Britain as when Ireland was originally conquered of course if was one Catholic nation conquering another, or rather one conquering numerous local kingdoms which had an idea of Ireland but not in the same form as nation states that were beginning to emerge in the middle ages. Ireland as a colony of Protestant Britain is really something that can only be said to hold some truth in the Elizabethean era and after. Even then it’s not entirely true or useful in viewing the complexity of Irish history considering Irish nationalism is for example largely a creation of Protestants in Ireland historically.

The Irish moving to the US were escaping poverty and famine for the most part, certainly Britain in it’s relationships with Ireland did not have a shining history in regards to advancing it industrially or economically. But then that could also be said for Scotland in the same era, which had long ceased to a majority Catholic state.

It’s cultural.

Take Irish Catholicism and Spanish Catholicism… Irish Catholicism is border-line Puritan, culturally speaking. It’s very low key. Everything about it is. Where as Spanish Catholicism is very flashy and vibrant, very… celebratory? You know when people say Catholics mourn their faith? They’re thinking of the Irish. And I should add, I’m from an Irish Catholic background and greatly enjoy being so.

Of course the reasons for this lies in the histories of persecution and violence against Catholics in Ireland. And Jansenist influence cannot be denied. Due to the suppression of the Faith in Ireland, many priests studied in France before returning to Ireland (and many went to Spain as well, so much so that the Spanish Crown established an Irish university for them!), and whilst in France many would have been exposed to Jansenism in the universities and brought it back with them etc.

The first man is telling the truth. There are many hispanics and blacks in my school wearing large rosaries, and most of these I cannot call Catholic. They are very open about their sinful exploits, whether they be sexual, drug or gang related. Not all of them are like that, but I can usually tell which person with a rosary is pious, and which is using it, mistakenly, as a cultural symbol.

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