Here is a question I do not know the answer too. After making the sign of the cross some people kiss what looks like to be the outside knuckle of the index finger. Why do they do the kissing part?
They actually cross their thumb over the index finger making a cross. Then they kiss the cross.
Thereby making a cross to kiss? If so, that make more sense. Do you know when this started and why do only some people do it?
I think it’s a cultural thing.
I think it started in the Mexican or Spanish culture. Don’t quote me on that, but it seems like I heard a pretty knowlegeable person say it.
That’s pretty cool!
It’s true that we make the cross to kiss it. It’s funny because even if I do the sign in a different form (with 2-3 fingers or my open hand for example) I always make a cross at the end to kiss it.
I guess it really is a cultural thing as it’s quite common to see here in Mexico. Perhaps it’s related to how we’re more “tactile” (touching statues of saints or Jesus is common for example).
Not sure myself where it actually started but I found this on a quick Q&A in the catholic.com site in relation to “kissing the thumb”:
Kissing the cross (as we do on Good Friday) is an ancient gesture of devotion. It implies a humble acceptance of one’s own cross in imitation of Jesus.
I was taught to do the sign that way since I was little, and it’s funny because I never actually was conscious of the fact that I’m kissing a cross when I do it (even though I only do the kiss when it’s a cross). So thanks for that! Quite interesting.
It is predominantly done by Mexican-Americans, especially down here in South Texas. During the latter part of the 19th century and up until the late 1930s (or so), Catholicism went underground in Mexico due to a wave of anti-clericalism on the part of the various regimes. To be a Catholic meant an automatic death sentence. Churches and schools were closed and rivers of martyrs’ blood flowed through Mexico (remember Blessed Miguel Pro, SJ, who was martyred as he stood, with his arms outstretched in the form of a cross). In order to preserve the Faith, the faithful were taught to make the Sign of the Cross and kiss the index finger as though they were venerating the actual crucifix (which was kept hidden).
Thankfully, Mexico does not have that problem anymore, but, the faithful maintain that pious custom. That custom has been brought over to the United States as many religious and priests went into exile both in South Texas and throughout the rest of our country. The nuns who taught at my school originally came from Mexico, fleeing the severe persecutions there, taught us this practice.
Thank you everyone for your response
This custom is found in many Hispanic cultures, hardly just Mexicans. Columbians, Panamanians, Costa Ricans, Guatamalans, Nicaraguans–all of these, and others.
I’ve also seen it done often at an ethnically-Italian parish that I’ve been to a few times.
I never thought of that
I think it could just be a habit, here is why. When you say the rosary you always start off by kissing the cross, then pray the rosary then kiss the cross again. Some people also may be using their hands to pray the rosary. My Dad always did that if he had time, and the rosarys were not at hand, ( which wasn’t often)
True, but, in Mexico’s case, the custom was more along the lines of a really serious matter, like intense religious persecution.
Given the fact that the custom is widespread across Spanish-speaking countries and Italy, it would seem likely that the custom emanates at least from the era of the Spanish colonial empire, easily predating the Mexican situation of the 19th century.
I don’t mind the kiss at all even though I don’t do it, but I hate seeing the chin bump.
I see a lot of people make the cross and kiss it, but in my area, more frequently, I see a very quick, tight Sign of the Cross and base of thumb to chin bump. It seems tokenish to me. If you’re going to make a cross to kiss, why not just kiss it?
just as Catholics who do not share this cultural custom can also be guilty of a sloppy sign of the cross (just watch people at the holy water font outside church), so can people with this practice. We make it a point to instruct the children in CCD who have learned this practice at home in its significance and to make sure they do it properly.
True, but, for Mexican Catholics living in the early part of the 20th century, when these violent and deadly persecutions broke out with a mad fury, this practice took on a deeper and more urgent significance.
Sadly it seems the the “Cristeros” movement is almost completely forgotten now (along with God it would seem in some cases).
I am still waiting for Blessed Miguel Pro to be canonized. What is the hold-up here? Should not martyrdom be an almost instant cause for canonization? He is, after all, the Proto-Martyr of Mexco.