The inverted, or upside-down, cross is one of the more popular anti-Christian symbols around. It’s featured on countless metal band albums and, along with the pentagram, is a staple of the Satanic imagery used in film. Most recently, I was watching the first season of the show Supernatural (which is awesome, by the way), and the main characters deduce that an old woman is actually an evil supernatural creature because of the inverted cross on her wall.

In March 2000, Pope John Paul II made a pilgrimage to Israel. While there, he sat on a throne decorated with the image of the inverted cross. Shortly thereafter, every Evangelical with internet access and a penchant for LaHaye-esque conspiracy theories created a website explaining that this is proof positive that the Roman Catholic Church is evil incarnate and that the now-sainted pope is actually the Anti-Christ.

But like so many commonly known facts, the anti-Christian origin of the inverted cross is pure fiction.

popes-crossThe inverted cross actually refers to Saint Peter. Though this is not mentioned in the Bible, Catholic tradition tells us that he, like Jesus, was executed by means of crucifixion, but that his cross was planted upside down. Drawing on Matthew 16:18-19, the papal line is closely aligned with him.

So when Pope John Paul II seated his holy derrière under an inverted cross, the intended symbolism was actually that he was a successor to Peter, the rock on which Christ may build his church.

Time to recycle that inverted cross necklace you bought to shock the ol’ ‘rents, I’m afraid. That, or attach a little figure onto it. The inverted crucifix is legitimate sacrilege.


This post was originally published on CFI-Ottawa’s blog.