A crux immissa or Latin cross

A Latin cross or crux immissa is a type of cross in which the vertical beam sticks above the crossbeam,[1] with the three upper arms either equally long or with the vertical topmost arm shorter than the two horizontal arms, and always with a much longer bottom arm.[2]

If displayed upside down it is called St. Peter's Cross, because he was executed on this type of cross.[3] When displayed sideways it is called St. Philip's cross for the same reason.[3]

Many medieval churches are designed using the Latin cross plan. When looked at from above, it takes the shape of a Latin cross. A Latin cross plan primarily contains a nave, transept, apse, and narthex.


Wayside cross in Karachi, Pakistan.

In a broad sense, the Latin cross is used to represent all of Christianity and Christendom, given that it teaches that Jesus sacrificed himself for humanity upon it, atoning for the sins of the world.[4][5] It is especially used among the denominations of Western Christianity, including the Roman Catholic tradition and several Protestant traditions, such as Lutheranism, Moravianism, Anglicanism, Methodism, and Reformed Christianity, as well as by Anabaptists, Baptists, and Pentecostals.[6] In certain periods, such as during the 16th century English Reformation of the Anglican Church, the Latin cross was disfavored by a minority of theologians such as Nicholas Ridley, though in the overall history of the Western Christian Churches, this was short-lived.[7]

Cruciform Churches

Color coded Latin cross floor plan

A Latin cross plan is a floor plan found in many Christian churches and cathedrals.[8] When looked at from above or in plan view it takes the shape of a Latin cross (crux immissa).[9] Such cruciform churches were very common in the West during the Romanesque period.[2] The ideal church plan tended to be symmetrical around a central point during the Renaissance.[10] The longer arm of the Latin cross plan is the nave, which runs on an east–west axis and traditionally contains aisles or chapels.[10][11] The transept crosses the nave, running north–south, and can be the same width as the nave, or extend further on both sides to create a more pronounced cross shape. The east end is the apse, which traditionally contains the choir, chancel, or presbytery.[11] Many also have a narthex at the entry.[9]

Examples of Cathedrals with a Latin Cross Plan

In computer systems

For information on how to enter these symbols on your computer, see Unicode input

The glyph has a unicode code point: U+271D LATIN CROSS

Similar marks

See also


  1. ^ Herbert Norris, Church Vestments: Their Origin and Development (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2002), p. 128
  2. ^ a b Curl, James Stevens (2015). "Cross: Latin" in Oxford Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Oxford University Press. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-19-860678-9. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  3. ^ a b Joyce Mori, Crosses of Many Cultures (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1998), p. 32
  4. ^ Johns, Catherine (1 February 2013). The Jewellery Of Roman Britain: Celtic and Classical Traditions. Routledge. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-135-85111-8.
  5. ^ Apostolos-Cappadona, Diane (14 May 2020). A Guide to Christian Art. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 231. ISBN 978-0-567-68514-8.
  6. ^ Hryniuk, Margaret; Korvemaker, Frank (1 October 2014). Legacy of Worship: Sacred Places in Rural Saskatchwan. Coteau Books. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-55050-598-6. Latin cross and is most often found on Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican churches. The more elaborate Eastern cross includes a small horizontal bar near the top and a slanted bar near the base. It is most often seen on Orthodox churches.
  7. ^ Nicholas Ridley, A Treatise on the Worship of Images, written before 1555.
  8. ^ St. Peter's in the Vatican, ed. William Tronzo (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 275
  9. ^ a b Lilian H. Zirpolo, Historical Dictionary of Baroque Art and Architecture (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2010), p. 314
  10. ^ a b "Western architecture - Early Renaissance, Italy, 1401-95 | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Retrieved 2023-12-03.
  11. ^ a b "Architecture of Gothic Medieval Cathedrals". people.wou.edu. Retrieved 2023-12-03.
  12. ^ "Roma: Caput Mundi". mediakron.bc.edu. Retrieved 2023-12-02.