Making Sign of the Cross in Orthodox way?

can we Catholics make the sign of the cross in orthodox way or is it forbidden?
like right to left?

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I am Orthodox and I am curious too if you are allowed!
When I enter a Roman Catholic cathedral, in order to not stand out I make the Catholic sign. I am not sure why, just to fit in I guess. But I do use the first 3 fingers together as in the Orthodox way.
We are not allowed to use the Catholic sign. 'They do it their way, we do it our way."
I read the significance of Orthodox sign, and I understand we end the sign at the left because that is where the heart is and this movement happens when we say “and the Holy Spirit” to bring the Holy Spirit in our heart.
I haven’t found the significance of the Catholic sign but I imagine it represents personal devotion coming from the heart to the right that is the side of God in popular knowledge - devil comes at the left to delude us in the heart and the angel stands to the right to advise us well, but that’s just popular belief.

In a Catholic setting, why would you? I guess its fine if you find yourself among orthodox, or in private.

But if we are all one, why not show we’re all one?

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Correct me if I’m wrong, but if I recall correctly, don’t Eastern Catholics make the same SOTC as the Orthodox? :thinking:


It should OK to make the sign of the Cross as the Orthodox do when you are with or around the Orthodox, esp. in a Church. Other than that, why do you want to follow the Orthodox?

In one of Frederica Matthewes-Green’s videos about the Orthodox Church, when she demonstrates how to make the Sign of the Cross, she doesn’t say In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as she crosses herself . She says Holy God, Mighty and Immortal.

If you’re Orthodox , are you familiar with this?

yes… some eastern catholic churches have the same sign of the cross as the orthodox churches… I have seen eastern catholic clergy and nuns doing it, i.e. right to left instead of the usual left to right.

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It comes from Latin being the primary language of the West. The Latin word for ‘left’ is ‘sinister’, which gives us both the English word ‘sinister’ and even the word ‘sin’ itself. ‘left’ was traditionally associated with evil. Moving the fingers from left to right indicates a move from sin to salvation.


'Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal have mercy on us." is a verse used in prayers to invoke His mercy. Sometimes certain verses must be accompanied by the sign of the Cross. Maybe she is making the sign of the Cross while she is saying these verses. While in the church it is easier to hear “Holy God…” and think “In the name of the Father” while you’re crossing yourself, when you pray yourself, to read the verse and make the sign of the Cross is hard even if you read out loud and think what you are supposed to think at the sign of the Cross. I am confused at this either. It’s true that our priests are very strict with how we do the Cross and some said that a crooked Cross, an inverted Cross, anything not proper is only to amuse the devils and make them laugh at us. So why can we cross ourselves without the proper words? So how are we supposed to say one thing and think another? When I pray by myself, I just say the verse, and stop and then make the sign Cross. I can’t humanly do it any other way. Or maybe I suffer of scrupulosity to even consider this a problem. God hears anyway :pensive:

:smiley:Funny popular saying about crossing yourself (especially in public when you pass by a church): “Make the cross big because the devil is old and can’t see it too well.”


You are most likely right about that @Mary888. Frederica was explaining the Orthodox Liturgy in the video for first time visitors to the Liturgy. She demonstrated the Sign of the Cross where it’s made at a certain point during the Liturgy and I heard her say Holy (while touching the forehead) God (at the heart), Mighty on (right shoulder) and Immortal (on left shoulder). That was new to me! It’s very likely that she’s praying the mercy prayer in the context of the Liturgy. Thank you for explaining this!

God Bless!

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About 10 years ago I read a history of the SOTC written by the son of an Orthodox priest. One possibility he offered was that the priests at the beginning of Christianity would bless the people in what is now considered the Latin way. The people, in return would bless themselves by mirroring the motions of the priest, i.e., when the priest moved his hand from left to right, the people would move their hands from right to left.

As for the “Latin way”, there are a number of possibilities, most having to do with warfare. While one might wear a sword on his back in a break-away sheath, most of the time the sword would be worn on the left side so your right hand could pull it out. Thus, the Latin way imitated a warrior drawing his sword to do battle with the Evil One. Or, if you think of the SOTC as a shield, your action is pulling your shield across your front to defend you.

Two more things to remember about the Sign Of The Cross. First is that it was responsible for the greatest persecution in history, that of Diocletian. The Emperor would go to see the pagan seers once a year to learn what to expect for the coming year. One year, Diocletian brought along some of his guards who were Christian. Since they were in the presence of pagan magic, the guards crossed themselves for protection (probably using their thumbs on their foreheads.) This immediately drove the spirits away and the Emperor was left without his prophecies for the year, and that was the justification for the persecution.

Second is that Ezekiel 9:4 calls for the foreheads of the faithful in Jerusalem to be marked. While many modern translations transliterate the mark as an “X”, it is actually the Hebrew letter “taw” or “tav”. At the time of Ezekiel, it was written as a vertical cross, like a “t”. It is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and when Jesus in Revelation calls himself “The Alpha and Omega”, that’s just for the Greek translators. What He said in reality was “I am the Aleph and the Tav”, identifying Himself with the cross.

FWIW, I frequently use the Eastern form when crossing myself at communion, in honor of my Russian-born wife (May God Keep Her Close.)


There is definitely no prohibition against doing the Sign of the Cross in the Eastern Style. As others have noted, Eastern Catholics do it that way. I went to a Melkite Liturgy once and I made the Sign of the Cross in the Eastern style like everyone else there.

With a Slovak Roman Catholic and Roman Catholic background I have both ways and have combined them, too. It’s best to stay with they way you really are in my humble opinion.

Thank you @Muzhik for the very interesting and informative info!

God Bless!

Depending on which Eastern Rite, yes. The Byzantine Catholics for example, do it the same as the Eastern Orthodox. On the other hand, I believe the Maronite Catholics (part of the West Syrian Rite) do the SOTC the same as us Latins.

I sincerely hope it is not forbidden - Christians, East and West, crossed themselves right to left up to the 12th century. It was the Latin Church that decided to change it.


Much to do about nothing; similar to worrying about right to left or left to right.

Of course you can.

Byzantine Catholics do it all the time.


When I go to an eastern rite church or participate in an eastern rite liturgy I make the sign of the cross as I see them do.

If you are in an Eastern Catholic rite (Maronite, etc.), then that is how you traditionally make the sign. If you are in the Latin Rite, then out of love of God and obedience to His Church, you unite with brothers and sisters and make the sign left-to-right. From the Wiki:

The movement is the tracing of the shape of a cross in the air or on one’s own body, echoing the traditional shape of the cross of the Christian crucifixion narrative. There are two principal forms: one—three fingers, right to left—is exclusively used in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Church of the East and the Eastern Catholic Churches
in the Byzantine, Assyrian and Chaldean traditions; the other—left to
right to middle, other than three fingers—is the one used in the Latin (Catholic) Church, Anglicanism, Methodism, Presbyterianism, Lutheranism and Oriental Orthodoxy. The ritual is rare within other Christian traditions.

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