Crucifix – The great Cover up
I have always had a problem with the Crucifix and any other idols to Mary etc. Growing up as an evangelical/protestant in Northern Ireland I could never bring my self to go inside a catholic Chapel (In Northern Ireland Catholic places of worship are called Chapel’s and Protestants are called Churches), simply because every time I saw the Crucifix or some other idol I literally felt sick, not because of the blood or the cross itself but because to me it represented idolatry. While on some of my religious views I have mellowed and am no long as dogmatic as I once was, I still can not bring myself to enter a catholic Chapel.
A few days ago I started reading another book (no surprise thereJ). It was called “The Dark side of the Papacy” by an ex Priest called Peter De Rosa who had studied at the Vatican and worked there for a time. He made a point about the Crucifix which I wish to develop for you here.
He describes the Crucifix as “easily the biggest cover-up in History.” He says that this cover up comes down to the piece of cloth that “covers the loins of Jesus on the cross.” In the beginning the Cross was never represented in art. No one dared use an execution tool as a representation of their faith. This would have been seen as blasphemy by the early Church fathers. It is said that Constantine’s armies bore the cross on their insignia. This is also not true. They instead used the first 2 letters of Christ name in Greek as their insignia. Only when the memory of the thousands who had died on crosses all over the Roman world dimmed did Christians feel free to depict the cross as the symbol of Christ’s suffering love. And even then it was only an EMPTY CROSS. Who would dare re-crucify Jesus? This after all would be going against what Hebrews 6 says.
Later, this bare symbol of his conquest of the dark forces seemed too austere. Fifth century artists began to paint a cross with a lamb next too it, for Jesus was the Lamb of God slain for the sin of the world. Then with mounting courage, a lamb-white Jesus was himself depicted next to the cross. With only 2 known exceptions, not till the end of the 6th Century was He shown on the cross. Still the artist dared not paint in the pain and humiliation. Jesus was in a long tunic, with only hands and feet bare to show in stylized fashion the nails that pinned him to the wood. This was an image of triumph; he was not suffering and dying but reigning, open-eyed and sometimes crowned, on the throne of the cross. The first tenth-century Greek representation of Jesus suffering on the cross was condemned by Rome as blasphemy (now imagine that). Soon the Church of Rome itself gave in to this blasphemy.
As the years moved on the cloth got smaller and smaller until in suddenly stopped – at a loin cloth. Why did the artists stop here? I used to think that this was simply not show Jesus as naked (for anyone who knows history knows that when the Roman’s crucified someone it was always naked). But now I am not so sure. After reading De Rosa’s book I think I have another reason. If the artists painted Jesus naked on the Cross, then the Church would not have been able to partake of their favourite pass time, which was being anti-Semitic and killing and abusing Jews where ever they found them. What do I mean by this? In giving Jesus the final shreds of decency, that loin-cloth took from him His Jewishness. It literally covered His pride and turned Him into an honorary Gentile. For what it hid was not just his sex but the knife-mark in His flesh, the circumcision, that showed He was a Jew. This is what The Catholic Church feared and still fears to see. If it wasn’t for the cloth then the Catholic Church couldn’t blame the Jews for Jesus’ death. The Crucifix is simply another anti-Semitic symbol in a long line. The Church in Rome to this day still refuses to apologise for this and many other acts of Anti-Semitism. Maybe one day they will when Jesus returns not only as Saviour and Messiah but also as a Jew.