Latin: cruci fixus, fastened to a cross
A cross bearing an image of Our Lord’s Body, venerated among Christians since the 6th century. When blessed, it is an important sacramental. A crucifix must be placed over an altar on which the Mass is to be offered, and during the Sacrifice the priest bows towards it several times, and incenses it at a solemn Mass. It is also used at certain services as a “processional cross,” being carried at the head of the line of the clergy. The faithful are urged to have crucifixes in their homes, and the same blessed symbol is usually attached to rosaries. The tablet at the top of a crucifix is called the “title.” It bears the letters I N R I, the initials of Jesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudæorum (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews), the inscription placed on the cross of Our Lord by order of Pilate. On some crucifixes a skull and bones are shown at the foot, reminding us that Golgotha (Mount Calvary) meant “a skull,” probably because it was a burial-place, or from a fanciful legend that in the hole dug for Our Lord’s cross was found the skull of Adam.
To all who, after a worthy Communion, recite before a crucifix or a picture of the crucified Saviour the prayer beginning “O Good and Most Sweet Jesus,” a plenary indulgence is granted, applicable to the souls in Purgatory. Those prevented from visiting the Stations of the Cross can gain the indulgences attached thereto by holding a crucifix especially blessed for this purpose and reciting devoutly 20 Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glorys. A plenary indulgence can be gained at the hour of death by holding a crucifix with the “Apostolic Indulgence” attached and by using a crucifix to which the indulgence for a good death is attached.