Papist Orthodoxy

October 28, 2009

Historical Curiosity: The Sign of the Cross

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antiochian-Thomist @ 9:52 pm

I’m not intending to make a big deal out of this or ruffle anyone’s feathers. Pure and mere curiosity. I came across this and thought other history geeks like me might find it interesting.

Pope Innocent III (b. 1160/1161, d. 1216; reign: 1198-1216) said in his work, De sacro altaris mysterio, written and promulgated to regularize and unify liturgical practice in the West:

The sign of the cross is made with three fingers, because it is done together with the invocation of the Trinity….It is done from above to below, and from the right to the left, because Christ descended from heaven to the earth, and from the Jews He passed to the Gentiles (De sacro altaris mysterio 2, 45).

Innocent III goes on to say:

Others, however, make the sign of the cross from the left to the right….[Some priests] do it this way so that they and the people will be signing themselves in the same manner. For example, imagine the priest facing the people for the blessing — when we make the sign of the cross over the people, it is from left to right…(Ibid.)

So, when did the exception become the rule? I wonder how it changed? A curiosity, however minor.

I first read about this here.

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