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Archive for October, 2011

The History of Wearing Cross Necklaces to Express Christian Devotion


St Cuthbert Wearing Gold Gemstone Necklace

The history of the cross and cross necklaces used to display Christian devotion can be traced back at least to the 2nd century. Tertullian, a great Church Father, described the faithful Christian  followers as cross devotees. And, it was noted that it was the center of the Christian’s life.

 In the 3rd century St. Clement ofAlexandria again describes the great devotion of Christians to the cross of Christ and defines it as the symbol of the Lord.

St. Paulinus of Nola, at the end of the 4th century noted that the cross of Christ was recognized as both a sacred symbol of the passion of Christ and also a sign for protection and defense.

 Archaeologists have found numerous items marked with a cross from many civilizations dating to the 5th and 6th centuries. These articles included crosses on : drawings and etchings on walls of burial chambers and catacombs in Rome, paintings in Egypt, coins,  earthenware vessels, mosaics, devotional medals and saint medals, necklaces, rings, and liturgical vestments. They were even placed on documents from the 10th century believed to be used as signatures. They have been depicted on Christian Churches and monuments from the 4th century and of course beautifully decorate our Catholic and Christian churches and Basilicas today.

 Crosses were not only seen in artwork. As early as the 6th century beautiful cross necklaces were shown to be worn by Christians to demonstrate their devotion to Christ. Large pectoral crosses were worn by Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant clergy as a sign of reverence, devotion, and often to designate the level of the clergy in the church hierarchy. They were made of gold, silver, platinum, and often contained beautiful gemstones.

 The use of a cross necklaces to display relics was identified as early as the 6th century. These reliquaries contained relics of the True Cross of Christ or relics of the saints. They were worn by clergy, royalty, and lay persons. One very interesting discovery demonstrates this use among Christians as a demonstration of their faith and devotion. St. Cuthbert was a monk and later a bishop ofLindisfurne,England. He was responsible for many miracles even prior to his death in 687. In 698 when they exhumed his body they found it uncorrupt. During the Danish invasion monks fled in fear of their safety and carried the body of the saint with them, wandering for years toCumberland and other cities before it was finally taken toDurham,England. Another miracle occurred here. According to tradition it was believed that this miracle was the St. Cuthbert indicating his desire to have his burial spot here.  The incorrupt body of the saint has his final resting place in a cathedral inDurham. They also found in his tomb a very beautiful jeweled cross necklace.

 Tombs of queens and kings were also discovered with fine religious jewelry of gold, silver, and gemstones. Another famous historical account identified both a reliquary and gemstone cross necklace in a tomb of a queen in the middle of the 6th century. Queen Thodelinda ofLombards received a very precious gift of a reliquary containing a relic of the True Cross of Christ from Pope St. Gregory the Great. The reliquary and jeweled cross necklace are still preserved today in the treasury ofMonza.

 What a marvelous tradition we have as Christians in demonstrating our faith and devotion to Christ by proudly wearing cross necklaces whether it is a simple design of silver or gold or elaborate gold gemstone necklace. We can follow in the footsteps of our early Christian brothers and sisters who were unafraid to display their Christianity daily by wearing this beautiful religious jewelry.


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Saint Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower


Feast day – October 1

Lived 1873 – 1897

Saint Therese, the Little Flower, is a doctor of the Church. And, yet she was not a very educated person by the world’s standards. She did not attend any college or university. But, she did possess the greatest wisdom and knowledge concerning the path to holiness and the path to heaven. She called that path to holiness “The Little Way”. Her little way consisted in serving God in the very ordinary tasks of everyday life which she did with great love. The “little way” involved total abandonment in God’s service and perfect accomplishment of the simple and small duties of everyday life. In fact, Therese spent her days in the convent performing very menial tasks which included: working as a sacristan setting up and caring for the altar in the chapel, doing the laundry in the convent, and working in the convent kitchen.

Therese wanted to go to heaven in a different way from the path described in books of the lives of the saints. She did not consider the lives of these saints to be realistic. They all seemed to have accomplished such grand things in their lives. And her life was very simple and ordinary. But, Therese gave every moment of her simple little life to Jesus with total trust in God’s love and protection. As she stated, “I wanted to find an elevator that would raise me to Jesus”.  And, the elevator would be the arms of Jesus lifting her up in her littleness, her simplicity, her humility.

St Therese’s great mission was to open our eyes and hearts to the great mercy of God. She wanted us to know that God is a merciful Father. And, in the “little way”, little souls must take the first step of knowing God and His loving mercy. Then we seek to love God.   And, we love Him in our actions performed with pure intentions. Every action that we perform in love is done with a pure intention. As Therese had said, “To pick up a pin with love may save a soul”. It is the intention in our hearts that is seen by God.

One of the greatest quotes from the saints is this one from St. Therese which has influenced my life in many ways. She said, “When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens, I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth.”  Let us strive to live a life which reflects that same goal right now of doing good on earth. As we ask St. Therese to intercede for us on earth and as we remember this great saint how wonderful to display and wear the St. Therese saint medal or St. Therese ring.


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