What is this hand gesture?

I’m assuming this is some tradition that’s since been lost (at least in the U.S.), since I’ve only seen it in Papal images from before the time of St. Pius X. What does it mean? Where did it come from?

He is making the sign of the cross with his two fingers.


Yes, it’s a gesture of blessing.

The two upraised fingers signify the two natures of Our Lord: divine and human.

The three fingers that are ‘curved’ signify the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Simply put, it’s a statement of belief in two key elements of Catholic belief, Our Lord being human and divine in His nature, and Three Persons, One God in the Trinity,

And that’s a picture of Blessed Pius IX…or, what the Italians affectionately called him, ‘Pio Nono’ !

East Sideeeeee.:smiley:

This is the gesture of papal benediction. There’s a discussion of it with a lot of photos here at the New Liturgical Movement.

It appears that the two upraised fingers, which signify the two natures of Jesus are crossed to also represent His Crucifixion.

Great link, Mark

Pretty much confirms what most posters have said.

That was actually pretty funny…

God Bless,

You should become Catholic


Look to Jesus.

It’s the position used for blessings by priests and bishops in the Byzantine Rite*, and in some of the other Eastern Christian Rites; it’s fallen from use in the Roman Rite.

From the priest’s view, it forms I C & X, the letters in the greek and slavic abbreviations IC XC for Jesus Christ (Iesus Christos)

*Some groups have different hand postures, specifically Old Believers

In the Latin church this form of hand blessing has always been reserved to the pope(still is), keep an eye on BXVI. In the Byzantine church this hand blessing is permitted to ALL priests and bishops.:smiley:

You know, looking at the pictures I posted above, I think this (and my comment that this is the gestures of “papal benediction”) is not correct – it’s the gesture of pontifical benediction, meaning that it is permitted to any pontiff (i.e., bishop), as you can see Archbishop Dolan doing in his portrait:

No, it has not always been Papal only. I’ve seen some paintings of Roman Rite bishops using it dating to well before Trent. Including some from before the Miter! (which puts it somewhere around 9th C)

It’s a gesture of blessing. You will often see crucifixes where the hands of Jesus are fixed in that gesture. Here is an example:

that is how my fiance explained to me why he holds his fingers in this same way when he crosses himself.

That is the Latin Rite form of benediction. It is attributed with many Bishops, and of coarse the Holy Father. Pope Pius XII was often seen blessing in that way.
Do your thing Pius. WORK THAT TRI-FINGER BLESSING!:rotfl:

It is the sign of the esoteric. Three fingers up toward the light, two down toward the darkness.

You revived a two-year-old thread for that nonsense? :confused:

It is also the way that Orthodox bless from priest up, not just bishops.

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