Why Do People Make the Sign of the Cross on Their Body?

You are here

Why Do People Make the Sign of the Cross on Their Body?

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up


Many professing Christians, especially those of Catholic upbringing, make the sign of the cross on themselves during prayer and worship activity. Some athletes make the sign during competition on the field. The sign of the cross is made by touching the hand to one’s forehead, then to the chest and then to each shoulder.

Christians who practice making the sign of the cross believe it is an acknowledgment of God’s presence, favor and protection. “In ceremonial usage, making a sign of the cross may be, according to the context, an act of profession of faith, a prayer, a dedication, or a benediction” (Article, “Cross,” Encyclopedia Britannica website, February 22, 2017).

Note what the Catholic Church teaches on the meaning of the sign of the cross. It “is a profession of faith in the chief mysteries of our religion because it expresses the mysteries of the Unity and Trinity of God” (Baltimore Catechism #3, Lesson 27, Q&A 1067). As the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 2157 also states, “The Christian begins his day, his prayers, and his activities with the Sign of the Cross: ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.’”

Thus, Catholic doctrine teaches that making the sign of the cross is an expression of belief in the Trinity. Yet the Trinity is a doctrine not found in Scripture. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia acknowledges that “ ‘trinity’ is a second-century term found nowhere in the Bible, and the Scriptures present no finished trinitarian statement” (1988, Vol. 4, “Trinity,” p. 914, emphasis added). It further states that “church fathers crystallized the doctrine in succeeding centuries”—long after the apostles had passed from the scene.

In truth, one making the sign of the cross is expressing an unbiblical belief in God. Many sources confirm that the sign of the cross is a Christian symbol adapted from paganism. Please see the related article, Why Shouldn’t We Wear a Cross as a Sign of Being a Christian?, and our Bible study aid, Is God a Trinity?