Sign of the cross with left hand and right to left

Been rereading the thread Signum Crucis, Left or Right? (on forums – Catholic Living – Spirituality). Majority view is that it is not prohibited.

Don’t know about other lefties but for me the natural way to make the sign of the cross would be to use my left hand and touch my right shoulder first, then the left.

Thought this section might reach a wider audience for my question which is whether the mythical “average Western Catholic person in the pew or priest” would be upset if they noticed this (probably wouldn’t if they were participating fully but they might if they are like me and notice deviations to a usual pattern).

Ever seen a priest do this?

Speaking as a left-handed person, I make the Sign of the Cross using my right hand from left to right because this is what Holy Mother Church teaches and we must always be obedient to her.

I’m left handed, and always done it left. A priest told me to do it with my right, so I do now. It feels VERY awkward for a leftie.:shrug:

Having had surgery on both my elbows, I have made the SotC with both hands. I did not feel any more or less closer to our Lord and Savior. The fact we are doing it is awesome.

It is most likely generally done with the right hand because most people are right handed. However, sign of the cross with the right hand is not compulsory. It can be done with the left hand.

A couple of years ago we had a substitute priest (while my pastor was out after surgery), and he did everything with his left hand (sign of the cross, blessings, etc.). I asked him about it after Mass once, and he simply explained that he is left handed.



Latin Rite = spectacles, [edited], left, right.

Eastern Rites (and Orthodox) = spectacles, [edited], upper right, lower left (of chest)

The Eastern manner is also approved and is far older. The Latin Rite version came about as the laity imitated the ordained – except the ordained were facing them (before ad orientum), thus the reversal.

No, it came about because of pecularities with the Latin language.

‘Left’ in Latin is ‘sinster’ and has connotations of evil. To a native Latin, going from right to left implies that Christ brings us toward evil. Roman plays (even before Christ) had the antagonist enter and exit from the left side of the stage, while the protagonist enters from stage right.

So Latins reversed the Signum Crucis, to show that Christ brings us from evil ( sinister) towards holiness.

Me too. Neurologically, most lefties are more bicameral than righties and it is no problem for us to do this with the right hand. I do not understand those who make an issue of it as if left-handedness constituted some kind of handicap entitlement. Gimme a break.

That is bizarre.


I don’t think it was “before ad orientem”, but rather simply that the priest or bishop was facing the people at the time he was blessing them with the sign of the cross. The quote I always see (from Pope Innocent III, from the late 12th, early 13th century) is “picture the priest facing the people for the blessing”.

I haven’t heard this one before, and I’d appreciate documentation.

I don’t think anyone really knows why the change took place, and these theories, while reasonable, don’t have any firm support.

Pope Innocent III seemed to have a theory (see above). I’ve never seen the source document from which the (translated) quote is taken, though.

No, you are wrong. It’s because for at least part of the liturgy, the priest faced the people and they imitated what he did. Unlike the orans which is pretty much symmetrical, the crossing is not.

What I am certain of is the western way is not the only way “because this is what Holy Mother Church teaches.”

Do it about 100 times and it won’t be. When I began to attend an Eastern Catholic church I was determined to cross myself as they do – and it was VERY ackward at the beginning.

Aren’t the latter two “watch” and “wallet?”

Agree that most lefties are probably more bicameral that righties and the older ones among us more so. This is because we learnt to adapt to a more right handed world than now where many gadgets eg scissors, irons, peelers were a challenge. Some were forced to make the ultimate adaptation to become right-handed.

But for me the issue isn’t whether we can adapt but why should we because of the Latin connation that using the left hand is sinister or illegitimate (eg the bend sinister on a shield of a knight born out-of-wedlock) and not showing proper respect. To me respect comes from the heart not which hand someone uses.

I find such arguments spurious and self serving.

We have a manner of prayer and worship that incorporates the flesh as a language. People might claim that “it’s no big deal” if I want to do it my way, but I say if “it’s no big deal” then speak the language of your culture. In this case, using the right hand.

The mosaic of trifles adds up. As a CCD teacher, I re-school any of my kids who genuflect on their left knee or make the sign of the cross with their left hand. We re not a “me-myself-and-I” operation.

Could you please indicate where in CCC/Canon Law/other official Church documentation which mandates which hand/knee etc is used?

Thanks in advance.

This is a tradition. I am using my God-given common sense and my sensitivity to liturgical language to statea the obvious.

Actually, I have seen documentation on the etiquette of which knee is used - on these Forums a while back. The right knee is for the Blessed Sacrament (God) and the left is for prelates.

This of course, is a general instruction and may be mitigated for necessity. A good priest I know cannot genuflect on his right knee because of an injury. He always uses his left. No problem.

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