Cross of Tau

Cross of Tau
The Tau cross.
The Cross of Tau used to build patterns in a window at the Convent of Saint Anthony near Castrojeriz, Spain
The Tau Cross at Roughan Hill near Corofin, County Clare

The Cross of Tau, named after the Greek letter it resembles, is suspected to have originated with the Egyptians. When a King was initiatied into the Egyptian mysteries a tau was placed against his lips.[1] It has been a symbol to many cultures before Christianity, including a mention in the Old Testament book of Ezechiel. It has been adopted by Christianity as a representation of the Cross.[2] It is strongly identified with the bull in the astrological sign of Taurus.[3]


It is said by St. Jerome and other Catholic Church Fathers that the Tau is an Old Testament allusion to the cross and crucifixion of Jesus mentioned in Ezechiel.[2] "Mark Thau upon the foreheads of the men that sigh". (Ezekiel 9, 4)

The Tau Cross use in Christianity dates back since the latter's beginnings. It is most commonly used in reference to the Franciscan Order and Saint Francis of Assisi, who adopted it as his personal coat of arms after hearing Pope Innocent III talk about the Tau symbol.[4] It is now used a symbol of the Franciscan Order. St. Anthony of Padua bore a cross in the form of a tau on his cloak.[2]

The tau cross is often used as a variant of the Latin, or Christian cross.

The Cross of Tau is also called the Tau Cross, St. Anthony's Cross, the Old Testament Cross, the Anticipatory Cross, the Cross Commissee, the Egyptian Cross, the Advent Cross, Croce taumata, "Saint Francis's Cross" or the Crux Commissa. Hence, this cross is often used during the Advent season. It also appears on the arms of the ancient de Lemos clan of Spain and Portugal, which according to family sites represents also a meeting place and the balance of justice and trade.

As with Christianity, other ancient societies who used the "Tau" symbol also expanded upon its symbolism to include life, resurrection, reincarnation, and blood sacrifice.[citation needed] These crosses are rare, and only a few are left in the world, the most well known being the cross on Tory Island in County Donegal, Ireland.


The Tau cross was a symbol of the Roman God Mithras and the Greek Attis, and their forerunner Tammuz, the Sumerian solar God, the consort of the Goddess Ishtar.[citation needed]

Tammuz, like Christ, was associated with fishing and shepherding. The Tau cross takes the shape of the letter of his name, and is one of the oldest letters known. A solar god, the death and resurrection of Tammuz were celebrated every summer.[citation needed]


Specific references:

  1. ^ Manly P. Hall, "The Secret Teachings of All Ages" Wilder Publications, 2009, ISBN 1604590955 (p. 595-596)
  2. ^ a b c  Paschal Robinson (1913). "Archæology of the Cross and Crucifix". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  3. ^ Philip Gardiner, "Gnosis: The Secret of Solomon's Temple Revealed", Radikal Phase Publishing House Ltd, 2005, ISBN 1904126049 (p.270-271).
  4. ^ "The Tau Cross - An Explanation". The Franciscans. Retrieved 2010-07-27. 

General references:

  • Webber, F.R. Church Symbolism, 2nd ed. Cleveland: J.H. Jansen, 1938.
  • Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament WordsCross, Crucify

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