The Tau Cross: A Symbol of AgesThe Tau Cross: A Symbol of Ages

The Tau Cross, also known as the Cross of Tau or the Cross of Saint Francis, has a rich history and deep spiritual meaning. This ancient symbol, which resembles a “T,” is often associated with Christianity and its teachings of love, healing, and salvation.

In the children’s crusade of 1212, young boys and girls carried crosses similar to the crucified Christ. These crosses were variants of the Tau Cross and served as a brief reminder of the healing power of Jesus, who was crucified for humanity’s sins.

According to tradition, Saint Francis of Assisi used the Tau Cross as his signature and seal. He would often sign his letters with the sign of the Tau, and it became a distinctive mark of the Franciscans. The Tau Cross held a deep meaning for Saint Francis, symbolizing his love for God and his dedication to following in the footsteps of Jesus.

Legend has it that the Tau Cross was also connected to Saint Anthony of Padua. It is said that when Anthony fell gravely ill, he was healed by a vision of the Christ Child holding the Tau Cross. From that day forward, Anthony always carried an olive-wood Tau Cross with him, believing it to possess medicinal and spiritual qualities.

The Tau Cross holds great significance in Christianity and is often associated with various virtues. Its shape resembling the letter “T” is believed to represent the Tree of Life and the crucifixion of Jesus. It is a fascinating symbol that spans centuries, depicting both the death and life brought by the sacrifice of Jesus.

Today, the Tau Cross continues to be used by the Franciscans and is a beloved symbol of their order. It is also seen in churches and religious art, reminding people of the intense love and sacrifice of Jesus. The Tau Cross is a timeless symbol that has touched the hearts of many throughout the years, and it continues to be a source of inspiration and faith for those born into Christianity.

The Tau Cross: A Symbol of Ages

The Tau Cross holds great significance in mythology, history, and Christian tradition. Its connection to Christmas dates back to ancient times, where it is believed to have been a symbol of the life-giving tree. Throughout history, the Tau Cross has been used as a sign of blessing, especially by the Franciscan brothers.

In Christian symbolism, the Tau Cross is associated with Saint Francis of Assisi, who is believed to have signed the Tau Crosses and trees with his initials as a blessing. This tradition continues to this day, with many followers of the Franciscan heritage signing the cross with the initials of Saint Francis.

The origins of the Tau Cross can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where it was associated with the Egyptian god Thoth. The symbol later gained popularity in Christianity and became linked to the life and legacy of Saint Anthony. As the story goes, Saint Anthony died with his arms in the shape of the Tau Cross, making it a symbol of his devotion and a reminder of his virtues.

The Legacy of the Crusades

The Tau Cross also holds significance in the history of the Crusades. During the Crusades, crosses in the shape of the Tau were worn by knights and soldiers, symbolizing their commitment to the Christian cause. Today, the Tau Cross is still recognized as a symbol of the Crusade’s legacy.

The Tau Cross in Christian Art and Tradition

In Christian art, the Tau Cross is often depicted as the signature of Saint Francis, and it is even said to be part of the Franciscan habit. The use of the Tau Cross in Christian art and tradition has a rich and deep meaning, representing the complete love and sacrifice of God’s olive-wood salvation.

This age-old symbol continues to be cherished and revered by many, with its associations to Saint Francis, the Crusades, and the virtues of Christianity. The Tau Cross holds a special place in the hearts of believers, serving as a reminder of the timeless and universal message of love, redemption, and salvation.

So, what does the Tau Cross mean to you? For some, it is a symbol of their Christian faith and serves as a reminder of the life and teachings of Saint Francis. For others, it is a part of their heritage and a connection to the age-old traditions of Christianity. In any case, the Tau Cross is a powerful symbol that transcends time and provides a sense of solace and hope to all who embrace it.

As we celebrate the holiday season, let us remember the symbol of the Tau Cross and its significance in our lives. Just as Saint Francis used the Tau Cross to create the first nativity scene in Greccio, Italy, let us use this symbol to bring joy, peace, and love to our homes, communities, and the world. It is in the spirit of the Tau Cross that we find unity and the true meaning of Christmas – the birth of Jesus and the salvation he brought to all of God’s children.

In conclusion, the Tau Cross is not just a symbol; it is a representation of the deep spiritual symbology that has been passed down through generations. It reminds us of the importance of the Eucharist, the Transitus of Saint Francis, and the common bond that all Christians share. May the symbol of the Tau Cross forever be a part of our lives, guiding us in our journey towards complete love and devotion to God.

Symbol of Ages

The Tau Cross, also known as the T-shaped cross, has a rich and fascinating story that dates back centuries. It holds a significant meaning in various cultures and religions, and its symbol can be found throughout history. In this article, we will explore the origins, history, and significance of this unique symbol.

Origins and History

The Tau Cross gets its name from the Greek letter “Tau,” which has the shape of a capital “T.” It is believed to have originated from ancient Egypt and was later adopted by several cultures and religions, including the early Christians.

One of the earliest mentions of the Tau Cross in Christianity can be traced back to the 12th-century writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican friar and theologian. According to Aquinas, the Tau Cross was the signature of the followers of St. Anthony of Egypt, who died in 356 AD. St. Anthony is known for his pious and ascetic lifestyle, and the Tau Cross became a symbol of his spiritual habit and virtues.

Associations and Significance

The Tau Cross holds various associations and significance in different cultures and religions. In Christianity, it is often seen as a representation of the crucified Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for the salvation of humanity. The shape of the cross resembles the letter “T,” which is associated with the word “tree,” symbolizing the Tree of Life.

The Tau Cross has special importance for the Franciscan Order, a religious group founded by St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th century. St. Francis believed that the Tau Cross was chosen by God as a symbol of His love, and he signed his name with a tau. The Franciscans considered the Tau Cross as a reminder of their commitment towards love, peace, and humility.

Examples and Variants

The Tau Cross can be found in various forms and materials. Some examples include wooden crosses, metal pendants, and even tattoos. In Italy, the Tau Cross is often referred to as the “St. Anthony’s Cross” and is commonly used as a children’s charm to protect them from harm.

In Germany, the Tau Cross is associated with St. Anthony of Padua, another beloved saint in the Franciscan tradition. In Ireland, there is a place called Greccio, where St. Francis is believed to have celebrated the first Christmas nativity scene. The Tau Cross is often seen in this area, representing the Franciscan legacy.


The Tau Cross is a symbol that carries great spiritual and historical significance. Its shape and associations make it a powerful emblem that represents love, salvation, and humility. Throughout the ages, it has been embraced by different cultures and religious groups, and its legacy continues to inspire people to this day.

Significance and Meaning

The Tau Cross holds a deep and profound sign, reflecting the sacred beliefs of the Franciscans. It is believed that the tree from which the cross was made was even older than Adam, making it a mark of great antiquity. The Tau Cross holds a special place in Christian symbolism, with its use dating back to the time before Christ, when it was associated with the priestly authority and the healing power of God.

History and Mythology

The Tau Cross has its roots in ancient Egyptian mythology, where it was seen as a symbol of salvation and a sign of eternal life. In ancient Greek and Roman mythology, the Tau Cross was believed to have medicinal properties and was associated with the Greek god of medicine, Asclepius. Over time, the Tau Cross became a common symbol throughout history, representing various concepts and beliefs.

The Tau Cross in Christianity

The Tau Cross holds a significant role in Christian history. One of the most famous accounts of the Tau Cross is its association with Saint Francis of Assisi. In the city of Greccio, Saint Francis was said to have had a vision of a crucified tree, upon which hung Christ himself. This vision led him to introduce the concept of the Nativity scene and the use of live animals in the Christmas celebration. Saint Francis saw the Tau Cross as a representation of the Eucharist and a call to share the love of Christ with all people.

The Tau Cross also has associations with other significant figures in Christian history, such as Saint Anthony of Padua and Saint Damian of Molokai. Saint Anthony of Padua is often depicted holding a Tau Cross, representing his love for the cross and his deep desire to be healed by it. Saint Damian of Molokai, known for his work with lepers, saw the Tau Cross as a symbol of his dedication to love and serve those in need.

Symbols and Variants

The Tau Cross is one of the oldest and most widely recognized symbols in Christianity. It is often associated with the generosity, sacrifice, and salvation of Christ. In addition to its traditional form, the Tau Cross has various variants, such as the Cross of Saint Francis and the Cross of Saint Anthony. These variations all hold unique meanings and are closely tied to the traditions and beliefs of the Franciscan order.

Franciscan theologian and writer Saint Bonaventure once said, “The Tau Cross is the signature of Saint Francis, within which the complete Christian life is born and comes to completion.” The Tau Cross remains a powerful symbol in the Franciscan tradition, forever connecting the lives and faith of the followers to their beloved Saint Francis.

Brief History and Use of the Tau Cross
Period Usage Significance
Ancient Egypt Symbol of salvation and eternal life Associated with mythology and the afterlife
Ancient Greece and Rome Medicinal properties and healing power Linked to the Greek god of medicine
Early Christianity Representation of the Eucharist and Christ’s love Connected to the Nativity scene and Christmas celebration
Franciscan Order Symbol of St. Francis and the complete Christian life Reflects the teachings and values of the Franciscans

The Tau Cross in History

The Tau Cross, also known as the crux commissa or the crux ansata, has a rich history that spans across different cultures and religions. This symbol holds great significance for various religious and spiritual beliefs, particularly in Christianity.

The Tau Cross is believed to have originated from the Egyptian ankh, a symbol for life. In Christianity, it is commonly associated with the symbol of the cross and holds deep religious meaning. The Tau Cross is what Saint Anthony used to sign his letters, representing his love and dedication towards God’s teachings.

The Tau Cross gained further significance when it was associated with Saint Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan Order. Saint Francis was deeply inspired by the Tau Cross and it became a symbol of his love and devotion to God. It is said that he had a vision of a cross depicting the Tau Cross, which led him to establish the Franciscan Order and create the first nativity scene in the town of Greccio.

Throughout history, the Tau Cross has been depicted in numerous forms, always with a distinctive T shape. This symbol has been found in manuscripts, paintings, and sculptures, often used to represent various virtues and the transitus, or passage from life to death.

In the age-old Christian symbolism, the Tau Cross is associated with various stories and myths. One such story tells of a fig tree in the garden of Corofin, Germany, which was believed to have healing properties. The tree’s branches formed the shape of the Tau Cross, and pilgrims throughout the years would hang small wooden crosses upon it as a sign of their faith and hope for healing.

The Tau Cross also holds importance in the Crusades, where it was often worn as a sign of identification. The followers of Saint Anthony would wear the Tau Cross on their habits to show their devotion to God and their commitment to serving the sick and the needy.

Children’s hospitals are often depicted with the symbol of the Tau Cross, signifying their dedication to providing care and healing to those in need. In fact, the Tau Cross is still used today as a signature symbol for medical and healthcare institutions, showcasing its enduring significance and association with healing and compassion.

In conclusion, the Tau Cross has had a long and diverse history, deeply intertwined with Christianity and various spiritual traditions. Its origins can be traced back to ancient Egypt, and it has since become a cherished symbol of love, faith, healing, and devotion.

Ancient Egyptian Connection

The Tau Cross, with its distinct ‘T’ shaped appearance, is not only celebrated by various religious groups, but it also holds a special place in history. One such significant connection can be found in Ancient Egypt.

The Crux Ansata: An Egyptian Symbol

Long before the rise of Christianity, the Ancient Egyptians had their own symbol resembling a cross. Known as the Crux Ansata or the Ankh, it was shaped like a cross with a loop at the top.

Ancient Egyptians loved this symbol and embraced it as a representation of life, spirit, and eternal continuity. They believed that by carrying or wearing the Ankh, the person would be blessed and saved for eternity. It became a signature mark of their spiritual beliefs.

Anthony of Padua and the Tau Cross

Many years later, in the city of Padua, Italy, a Franciscan friar named Anthony became known as a holy man with the power to heal and bless. His deep connection to the Tau Cross became a significant aspect of his life.

Anthony, born in Lisbon, Portugal, was called to join the Franciscan Order and committed himself to a lifetime of service. During a mass, he had a vision where the child Jesus presented himself to Anthony in the form of an angel, bearing the Tau Cross.

This vision remained with Anthony throughout his brief but impactful life. He carried a small Tau Cross in his pocket and would use it as a mark of blessing and healing on people and animals alike.

Later in his legacy, the Tau Cross became popularly associated with Anthony of Padua, and it was sometimes called the Anthony Cross or the Saint Anthony’s Cross.

The Tau Cross in Franciscan History

The Franciscan Order, founded by Saint Francis of Assisi, holds the Tau Cross as a wide-spread symbol. Saint Francis, known for his love and affinity for animals, embraced the Tau Cross as a sign of his commitment to all creatures.

The Franciscans used the Tau Cross as a signature mark in their religious practices and writings. The symbol’s meaning echoed their beliefs of simplicity, humility, and service to others.

It is said that the Tau Cross was also associated with Saint Thomas, one of the twelve apostles, who brought Christianity to India. He brought with him the Tau Cross as a sign of his faith and mission.

Throughout the years, the Tau Cross continued to hold a special place in Christian spirituality and tradition. Its variants and common usage by different religious groups became a testament to the enduring power and symbolism of this ancient Egyptian cross.

Christian Iconography

In Christian iconography, crosses have been used as symbols throughout history. The Tau Cross is one of the most widely recognized and oldest variants of the cross. It also holds an important place in the Christian tradition, with examples of its use dating back to the early days of Christianity.

The Tau Cross, also known as the Franciscan Cross or Saint Anthony’s Cross, is often associated with healing and divine protection. According to the Franciscan tradition, Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost things and lost people, had a vision in which he saw the original Tau Cross. In this vision, he received a call to embrace this symbol and use it to bring healing and salvation to those in need.

The Origins of the Tau Cross

The origins of the Tau Cross can be traced back to the pre-Christian era, where it was depicted as a symbol of life and a representation of the Tree of Life in ancient mythology. The use of this symbol in Christianity came about when the letters “T” and “X” were used to represent the names of Jesus Christ.

Towards the end of the 12th century, the Tau Cross gained popularity when Saint Francis of Assisi used it as a blessing for his followers. The Franciscans, known for their special love for nature and creation, embraced the Tau Cross as a signature of their spirituality and their commitment to follow in the footsteps of Saint Francis.

The Tau Cross: A Symbol of Love

For the Franciscans, the Tau Cross holds a special meaning. They see it as a symbol of love, just as Saint Anthony’s embrace of the Tau Cross was an expression of his deep love for God and his fellow people. The T-shape of the cross represents the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross, a reminder of his ultimate sacrifice for humanity.

In addition to its representation of the crucifixion, the Tau Cross is also associated with the Eucharist. The horizontal bar is seen as the table of the Last Supper, while the vertical bar represents the body of Christ. This age-old symbol has been cherished by the Franciscans and remains a powerful reminder of the love and compassion of Jesus towards all people.

The story of the Tau Cross is intrinsically linked to the history of Christianity and the life of Saint Anthony. From its origins in ancient symbols and mythology, to its adoption by Saint Francis and the Franciscans, the Tau Cross continues to be a beloved symbol of faith, hope, and love.

The city of Greccio in Italy holds a special place in the history of the Tau Cross. It was here that Saint Francis enacted the first live nativity scene, which included the Tau Cross. This marked a pivotal moment in Christian history, as it brought the story of Christ’s birth to life and emphasized the significance of the Tau Cross as a symbol of salvation.

The Tau Cross and Saints

The tau cross has a special significance for Christianity and is particularly associated with several saints.

One of the most well-known saints associated with the tau cross is St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis had a deep love for the tau cross, which he saw as a symbol of humility and love for God’s creation. He had a special connection to the cross, and it is said that he would often carry it with him.

St. Francis and his brothers, the Franciscan friars, would use tau crosses made from olive wood, which is indigenous to the region of Assisi. They would sometimes write the names of people who were in need of prayer on the crosses and use them as a blessing. This tradition has continued throughout the years, and many Franciscan friars still use the tau cross in their ministry today.

Another well-known saint associated with the tau cross is St. Anthony of Padua. St. Anthony was known for his intense devotion to Christ and his ability to perform miracles. He was often depicted holding a tau cross, which became his signature symbol.

The city of Damiano in Italy also has a special connection to the tau cross. It is said that St. Francis had a vision of a crucified figure speaking to him from a tau cross in the chapel of St. Damian. This vision inspired St. Francis to embrace a life of poverty and dedicate himself to serving others.

Throughout the history of Christianity, the tau cross has been associated with many saints and has remained a symbol of their virtues. The use of the tau cross in Christianity can be traced back to early Christian communities, and its origin may have ties to Ireland’s Christian heritage.

The tau cross is a unique and fascinating symbol that has been treasured by people throughout the ages. Its simplicity and meaning make it a powerful and significant symbol in the Christian faith.

Saint Anthony of Egypt

Saint Anthony of Egypt, also known as Anthony the Great, is a revered figure in Christian history. Born in Egypt, he lived from 251 to 356 AD and is considered one of the first monks and ascetics of his time. Anthony’s life and legacy have shaped the Christian faith in profound ways.

Anthony’s love for God led him to renounce his wealth and worldly possessions, choosing instead a life of solitude and prayer in the desert. He lived in a cave, dedicating himself to a life of contemplation and devotion. His hermitage became a place of pilgrimage for people seeking his guidance and blessings.

During the years of Anthony’s unique witness, Christianity was under severe persecution. In this difficult period, the Tau Cross became a significant symbol of hope and resilience for Christians. The Tau Cross, which resembles the letter “T,” is believed to have been the type of cross on which Saint Anthony and many others were crucified.

The Tau Cross gained popularity not only in Egypt but also in other parts of the world. It was used as a signature of the Franciscans and was also associated with Saint Francis of Assisi, who loved and appreciated the simplicity and meaning behind this symbol.

Anthony’s devotion to the Eucharist and his love for all living creatures, including animals, marked his unique spiritual journey. His deep connection with nature and the animal kingdom is reflected in his miraculous ability to communicate with and heal animals.

Saint Anthony of Egypt is commonly depicted with a Tau Cross and a small bell, which is a symbol of his closeness to God and his compassionate nature. He is often invoked to find lost items, as he was believed to possess the ability to locate lost or stolen possessions through his prayers.

In conclusion, Saint Anthony’s life and the Tau Cross carry deep religious meaning and symbolism. They serve as a reminder of sacrifice, devotion, and the enduring legacy of early Christians. The Tau Cross, with its unique shape, connects to the Crux Ansata (ankh), a symbol of eternal life in ancient Egypt. Through the centuries, the Tau Cross has remained a sign of blessing and protection, loved by many who seek spiritual guidance and solace.


Can you tell me more about the history of the Tau Cross in Ireland?

The Tau Cross is a symbol with ancient origins, representing a T-shaped cross. In Ireland, it has a rich history and is associated with the early Christian missionaries who brought Christianity to the country. The Tau Crosses in Ireland are unique in their design and often feature intricate carvings and inscriptions.

What materials are the Tau Crosses made of?

The Tau Crosses in Ireland are typically made of stone, such as granite or sandstone. Some crosses may also be made of wood or metal, but the stone crosses are the most common and iconic.

Are the Tau Crosses still used for religious purposes today?

While the Tau Crosses in Ireland have historical and religious significance, they are not commonly used for religious purposes today. However, they are often visited by tourists and are considered important cultural and historical symbols of Ireland.

Can I purchase a Tau Cross as a souvenir?

Yes, you can purchase a Tau Cross as a souvenir. There are various shops and online stores that offer replica Tau Crosses and other Irish religious artifacts. It can be a meaningful and unique souvenir to commemorate your visit to Ireland.

Where are some famous Tau Crosses located in Ireland?

There are several famous Tau Crosses in Ireland. Some notable ones include the Cashel Tau Cross in County Tipperary, the Clonmacnoise Tau Cross in County Offaly, and the Monasterboice Tau Cross in County Louth. These crosses are popular tourist attractions and are known for their intricacy and historical significance.