Is the cross a "graven image"


Hello and thank you for taking the time to read this. I converted to Catholicism four years ago. Since then I have married and have a son. My wife, who is not Catholic, has agreed to have our son Baptized at our church that she began attending regularly with me after our son was born. She is however concerned about during the ceremony when she will have to make the sign of the cross. She feels strongly that it is a graven image.
How can I help to convince her of her error?
Thank you for any advice.
Joe +


Joe, Catholics when we come into to church we usually dip a fingers in Holy Water and make the sign of the cross. When we do this we remind ourselves of our baptism and what it means. If she is Christian which it sound like she is then she should be baptized too and would be doing the same thing

The ECF also talk about using the sign of the cross but back then (2nd century at least maybe earlier) it was mostly made on the forehead as a seal. It reminded them of what Jesus did for them and their desire to follow Him.

Thus St. Cyril of Jerusalem in his “Catecheses” (xiii, 36) remarks: “let us then not be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the cross our seal, made with boldness by our fingers on our brow and in every thing; over the bread we eat and the cups we drink, in our comings and in goings; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we awake; when we are traveling, and when we are at rest”.

Do a search online for the sign of the cross and read what it says on the Catholic websites there or go to and read up on it or let your wife read it. You could also find the ECF talking about it and print/read these to her. More none Catholic need to read the ECF anyway as most will become Catholic when they see what they believed.

Others might be able to answer this a little better then I can but remember it was used by early Christians even before the Bible was compiled by the CC.

Hope this helps some


Just explain to her that the sign of the cross is the way we reflect on not only our own baptism (which was “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”) but also a reaffirmation of to whom we are praying. The Cross is the tool in which God carried out His redemption plan. It was on the cross that Jesus bled, suffered and died to save us. When I think of graven images, I think of something a person applies reverence to in order to make that thing their god. Catholics do not worship a cross, we adore “The Cross” because it is a sign of God’s love and our hope. Also, she might also notice that most crosses have a depiction of Christ’s body on them in a Catholic church or building. This is something that makes it more personal to us. It is not just a thing, but we remember as we look at it that our Lord suffered, Mary’s child died, The Cross is not just an historical artifact but a place where somebody we love died. Just something to think about. May God’s Blessings be on your family and especially your little one!


The poll is unnecessary. Don’t determine truth on popularity, nor seek out how many adhere to the truth when it comes to doctrine and dogma, for the former is an insult against the authority of the Church and the latter is an insult against the unity of the Church. It is best to simply teach the truth, not permit opinion to be held as high as the teaching of the truth.

The Catholic Church teaches that the cross is a symbol and the crucifix is a sacramental. Graven images are idols, and Christ was not crucified on an idol, nor is the crucified Lord an idol Himself.


Nope, the cross is not a graven image.


My dear friend

A big welcome to the forums to you. It’s not a graven image. Your question relates to idolatry. I’ll post the definition for idolatry etc below. There are tons of things you can learn to understand this is not idoltry. Idolatry qestions are best in the apologetics section.I’ll quote a scripture quote that may help. You know where Jesus says He must suffer and die etc and St Peter says no way. Jesus says get behind me satan. The reason Jesus calls St Peter satan is because satan has contempt for the cross and Jesus is pointing out that contempt for the cross is satanic. If we want to share in the resurrection of Christ we must share His cross. Crossing ourselves is blessing ourselves in the name of the Holy Trinity and declaring our allegiance to them and praying in their name and to them. We do not believe the sign of the cross is God so no idolatry.

IDOLATRY. Literally “the worship of idols,” it is giving divine honors to a creature. In the Decalogue it is part of the first commandment of God, in which Yahweh tells the people, “You shall have no gods except me. You shall not make yourself a carved image [Greek *eidōlon, idol] or any likeness of anything in heaven or on earth or in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them” (Exodus 20:4-5).
The early Christians were martyred for refusing to worship idols, even externally, but practical idolatry is a perennial threat to the worship of the one true God. Modern secularism is a form of practical idolatry, which claims to give man “freedom to be an end unto himself, the sole artisan and creator of his own history.” Such freedom, it is said, “cannot be reconciled with the affirmation of a Lord who is author and purpose of all things,” or at least that this freedom “makes such an affirmation altogether superfluous” (Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Church, 51).
Idolatry is always gravely sinful. Even under threat of death and without interiorly believing in the idol, a Christian may not give divine honors to a creature, thereby violating the duty of professing faith in God.

CROSS. Primarily the instrument of suffering on which Christ died and redeemed the world. It also stands for whatever pain or endurance that a Christian undergoes, and voluntarily accepts, in order to be joined with Christ and co-operate in the salvation of souls. The Cross is, therefore, a revealed mystery, taught by Christ when he said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). The mystery of the Cross is one of the principal themes of St. Paul’s writings (Romans 5:8; I Corinthians 1:17; Galatians 4:16; and Philippians 2:6-11).

SIGN OF THE CROSS. The most popular profession of the Christian faith in action form. The cruciform sign professes one’s belief in human redemption through Christ’s death on the Cross. The pronunciation of the names of the Three Divine Persons professes belief in the Holy Trinity. The first of the Church’s sacramentals, it has its origins in apostolic times. It is made by saying, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” and its action takes the form of a cross. One touches the forehead, the breast, and the left and right shoulders with the right hand as the words are recited. The prayer ends with “Amen” and is regularly made with holy water as a person enters a church or chapel or, in religious communities, upon entering one’s room.

Various answers to idolatry questions from this website

Welcome to you both to the biggest family on earth - Gods family. I am going to pray for you guys.

God bless you dear friend:thumbsup::slight_smile:



I want to thank everyone for your replies to my thread. I really appreciate the information you have provided. After church this morning I will discuss this with my wife and hopefully she will read your posts, they are a wealth of knowledge. Thank you for your support!

Joe +


suggest she re-read the entire portion of Exodus and Deuteronomy that proclaim the decalogue, and notice that the graven images forbidden are of idols, that is, false Gods. Since all Christians believe Jesus is in fact God, and since God himself is incarnated in this human, suffering form, there can be no sin in venerating an image of that human, suffering form, nor venerating an image of his glorified Body, such as a statue of the Sacred Heart.


There’s many protestant churches that also make the Sign of the Cross (my old Lutheran church - ELCA - does it now). They even have a crucifer (with the corpus) up front several years ago.


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