Jesus' feet on the cross

Hello. This may sound very trivial, but I’m wondering whether or not there is some sort of “rule” on illustrating our Lord crucified–particularly, how are the feet positioned? Right over left? Left over right?

On one very sad and solemn occasion, my grand-aunt (grandmother’s sister) was on her hospital bed and was being given her Sacrament of Final Anointing. A mass was held, during which everyone was very sad and some were already crying as it was evident her health was quickly deteriorating right in front of our eyes. I saw with my own eyes how her strength was going out of her.

At one point in the mass, the priest asked that a Crucifix be held for her to kiss. But at the moment the family showed the crucifix, the priest’s composure suddenly changed. I couldn’t understand then what happened but in strong words, he demanded that the crucifix be taken away and destroyed (later, he just asked to set it aside as he wanted to destroy it himself). Another crucifix (probably one of our family members carried it in her purse) was given for her to kiss. Still later, I asked the priest about this, and he explained that on the crucifix the feet were nailed left foot-over-right–which he equated to satanism (who “twist” the Cross/Crucifix in different ways). That it should be the right foot that is in front.

What added to my amazement was that during the Viaticum when the priest administered the Host and Wine–the faulted cross now hidden from view–my grand-aunt woke up and from that moment until the end she became quite animated and during the final song was clapping with our singing. She lived for another week before finally passing on to the Lord. I think this can only be the Lord’s work–she was a very good woman and was an unmarried Third Order Carmelite who had supported quite a number of priests as seminarians.

I did some research and couldn’t find any article on this topic of the Christ’s feet on the cross. I noticed however in pictures, that generally it was right-over-left as the priest said. Further, even other images of Christ (not crucified), the Blessed Mother and the saints usually had the right foot (or knee) ahead of the left. Is there a meaning to this or is it just an artistic convention? If it were true, could it have anything to do with the repentant thief on Christ’s right–perhaps a symbolism?

I just went around the building checking and this is what I found:

The Processional Cross & and one other crucifix have right over left,

The crucifix in the Parish Office & the one in the bedroom have left over right;

Two others have the feet apart.

Then I checked our pastor’s Oblate Cross The Oblate Cross has left over right so unless we wish to believe that St. Eugene de Mazenod had satanic leanings, I think we can agree that when it comes to the corpus on the crucifix it depends entirely on the artist.

Orthodox iconography for both painted crucifixes and icons of the Crucifixion always show the feet separated.

Thank you for your explanations.

The priest I talked to probably injected a bit of folk religion into the situation–which is very common in Third-World countries like the Philippines. As with some societies, maybe there are old pagan beliefs which didn’t change when Christianity was introduced here.

If anyone has heard of anything on the topic, I’d appreciate hearing about them just to satisfy my curiosity.

Thanks again! :slight_smile:


I checked all the crucifixes I own, - the one I wear (as a necklace) has right over left foot, and so do all my rosaries. The one in my room though is left over right hmm …but I got it in a Catholic bookstore…


I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and attended a presentation there. It was explained that there was never a foot piece on the Cross, and the feet were positioned on either side of the upright, and the nails were below the ankle bone.


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