The Cross is one of the pillars of Redemptorist spirituality, together with the Nativity, the Eucharist and Mary. These representations of the Redemptorist Congregation’s mission and calling are highlighted in some symbols, such as the Redemptorist crest or coat, the Redemptorist cross, and the Redemptorist dress, among other items.
Among those symbols we’d like to highlight the Redemptorist Cross that is utilized in many occasions. See below.
A12. The Cross in history
The cross is an emblem found in many cultures and religions, but its meaning has acquired a new sense since Jesus’s crucifixion.
In Christianity there are many crosses, such as the anchored, Latin and Greek crosses, and the cross of Saint Peter, the pontifical cross, the baptismal cross, the tau cross, the Jerusalem, Malta, St. George, and St. Andrew crosses, among others. All of them dignify Jesus Christ and His death and often point to a historical relation, such as for example, the cross of St. Peter, which is inverted, because that apostle asked to be crucified upside-down because he didn’t feel worth dying just like his Master.
For Redemptorists, the cross represents Redemption. St. Alphonsus, the congregation’s founder, was devoted to the Mysteries of Passion and Death (Cross), to the Mystery of Incarnation (Nativity), to the Mystery of Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist, and to Mary, Jesus’s Mother.
The first symbol adopted by Redemptorists was the crest (or coat), which was created by Brother Vito Curzio in 1738, six years after the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer was founded. The Redemptorist Cross follows the symbolism depicted in that crest.
Father Lucas Emanuel, vocation promoter, explains what is in the Redemptorist Cross:
“It doesn’t depict Christ nailed to the cross, because it is the Cross of Redemption. In addition to the cross, we have the instruments depicted in His Passion, the spear, the sponge, the nails, and also a representation of the Golgotha, all of them found in the Redemptorist coat. The dove above the cross symbolizes the Holy Spirit. On the backside, we have the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, a devotion observed by the congregation since Pope Pius IX gave the image to Redemptorists and asked them to disseminate devotion to Her all over the world.”
The Redemptorist Cross is utilized by the Fathers, Brothers, seminarians and worshippers associated to the mission, among which the Oblates, the Redemptorist Laypeople, the Redemptorist Missionary Youth, and even by those who identify themselves with charisma.
Seminarians receive one as soon as they start their formation journey in the congregation, and laypeople on many occasions, such as for example when they go on a missionary work, or when they assume a commitment towards the congregation.
The Redemptorist Missionaries also have a motto that identifies them: “Copiosa Apud Eum Redemptio,” which means: “With Him is Plentiful Redemption.” So, the children of St. Alphonsus are known as the heralds of the Plentiful Redemption that bloomed from the heart transfixed by the spear on the cross.