Sign of the Cross: Thumb, index finger, and middle finger?

As a Roman Catholic, for many years I have made the Sign of the Cross with my thumb, index finger, and middle finger pressed together. Both before and after I make the Sign of the Cross I would kiss my thumb, index finger, and middle finger.

My friend, also Catholic, does not like me to do it in front of her two small children and was critical of my preferred Sign of the Cross. She went online and found a site that stated the format I use has long gone out of style.

I have gone online myself and read references that it is the Byzantine Rite Sign of the Cross and also that it is still acceptable in the Latin Rite.

Am I wrong doing what I am doing? Honestly, I am quite exasperated that she not only criticized me, but is doing what she can to prove me wrong.

Thoughts? Comments?

That’s how it seems a majority of Hispanics do it that’s half of our parishioners.


Yes this is the way done in the East, 3 fingers from the Holy Trinity. In RCC I was told there are 4 fingers, including the Mother of God.
Does your friend support the 4 finger rule?
I still don’t understand her anger though, unless it be done out of Catholic piety for using 4 fingers (the ring bearing finger being the 4th) because she is a devout Catholic woman.
Has she expressed exactly what bothers her?

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“Out of style” just means unfashionable. Nothing worse than that. You’re free to choose which way you do it.

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She does not think it is the correct way to do it (she said she looked it up on line through some “liturgical site” and it read that this format has been out of favor for centuries) and she does not want me influencing how her children do the Sign of the Cross. I was a bit defensive because, as I explained, I see a lot of people at Mass schlepping through the Sign of the Cross (throwing it up there like swatting bugs) and how I do it makes me think more of the Cross. I figure I cannot win, but,yes, I think there is an issue of “She is right and I am wrong.”

Thank you. I am very bothered by this because I felt I had to defend myself and then when she called today and said she went online and found a “liturgical site” that stated the thumb, index finger, and middle finger has been out of style for centuries I continued to feel more defensive.


Thank you. Jim

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My first thought is, what business is it of hers?


Thank you. She feels I am sending a contradictory message to her two children how to do the Sign of the Cross, i.e. that my way is the wrong way.

She is being silly. If she is that worried about her kids now, what is she going to do when they go out into the world and see there is a lot of stuff going on that may be different from what she does.


Okay, so as a relatively new Catholic, what is the correct way? I was never taught which fingers should be used together.

Hi. The video above was helpful. Apparently the format I use is with the Eastern Rite (have been using it for years) and the Latin Rite has the fingers together. Right now, I a quite self-conscious myself on how to perform the Sign of the Cross. Jim

The OP isn’t really doing it in a “wrong” way. I sometimes do it like that. There’s also the Byzantine way, three fingers from right to left, and the Old Rite Russian Orthodox even do it with two fingers (index and middle, crossed- I think). I also sometimes do it with all five fingers.

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Just remember who you are making the Sign of the Cross for ------God the Father God the Son God the Holy Spirit. Only worry about that and no one else.

How does she think the right way it is?

Don’t worry about it… MANY Latin Catholics do it the same way as the Byzantine Catholics. Esp in Latin American countries. My grandmother was from Puerto Rico and held her hands the Byzantine way for decades.

NOTE: It’s really kind of find it ironic that she is worried about you doing something pious when there are others in the parish that are perhaps using 1 finger, or not even coming close to their shoulders for the Holy Spirit, or not even touching their body when doing the Sign of the Cross (in other words they do it in the air).

The symbolism regarding how the East holds their hands during the Sign of the Cross is far more beautiful than our open hand in the West.

Please be at peace and continue to hold you hand however you want.

God bless

I’ve actually always wondered whether touching the shoulders is necessary. I tend to touch the areas right under my neck, close to my collarbone.

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There is NOTHING on the face of this earth that makes me more FURIOUS than to see heathen, heretic, apostates come to my home and pray with their head bowed at a 47 degree angle rather than the proper 43 degree angle in front of MY CHILD. It would be better had such wretches never been born!

…the things some people get worked up over. The Church does not mandate a particular way of making the sign of the cross.


The shoulders are “supposed” to be touched, but it’s not a sin not to. Technically, I think that level of precision is only directly prescribed for those vested for mass (priests, deacons, altar servers, etc)

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