The Celtic cross has a long and ancient history within England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and it is one of the most recognizable symbols across the globe. The cross itself is rich in meaning and history, and many people might be unaware of the intriguing meanings and origins of the Celtic cross.
Existing Before Christianity
The Celtic cross is synonymous with Celtic Christianity and has particular importance in places such as Ireland and Scotland. Many people say that it was St. Patrick that brought the cross to Ireland on his mission there, but what many don't know, however, is that it likely pre-dates Christianity and harkens back to a time when people worshipped many gods. Celtic culture had particular reverence to the sun and deified it as a god. Mounds and monuments can be found throughout the British Isles which depict a similar shape to the Celtic cross but are verifiably older than the birth of Christianity.
Some people argue that the Celtic cross might have its roots in the Roman sun god known as Sol Invictus. This is why the Celtic cross is sometimes referred to as the 'Celtic sun cross'.
Others have said that the giant stone Celtic cross carvings found scattered across the British Isles were, in fact, originally standing stones used by the druids in the old Celtic religion. These stones were then Christianised and adapted as the population converted.
Evolution From the Chi-Rho Symbol
The cross has been a central symbol in Christianity since almost as long as Christianity was conceptualised. However, the symbol did not in fact come into wide-spread use until the fourth century, four hundred years after the death of Jesus Christ.
Before the cross, there was the Chi-Rho symbol, which was the monogram for Christ in Greek. The symbol can be easily identified as the letter 'P' with an intersecting 'X' letter. This was the symbol that Constantine was said to have painted on his shields, eventually resulting in him making Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire.
Use of this symbol was common in Roman Britain, and many such symbols have been found throughout England and Wales. It is entirely possible that, over time, the Chi-Rho symbol gradually formulated into what we now know as the cross. In Wales, symbols which show the 'P' letter as a shepherd's stick show the possibility of evolution into the Celtic cross that is well known today.
The origins of the Celtic cross remain uncertain, but the symbol has been in use for thousands of years, and while it perhaps holds different meanings to different people, it was universally held with reverence, as it is today.
Funerals can bring forth such a range of emotions: melancholy, grief, regret, relief and nostalgia. As an assistant at a funeral parlour, I am privileged to help people with organising their loved one’s final journey. I have learnt that a good funeral parlour can make the occasion truly commemorative. When I attend funerals for friends, I am saddened to see that so many ceremonies are traditional and joyless. I later find out that the family members simply weren’t aware of options such as a graveside memorial service. I love the fact that one of my tasks involves showing family members various venues and demonstrating what can be done. In this humble little blog, I hope to make it my mission to share some of the ideas – big and small – from the best funerals I have seen. Perhaps it will give you some inspiration at a difficult time. Bless.