What’s a Coptic cross?

Print anything with Printful

The Coptic cross is worn by Coptic Christians in North Africa as a symbol of their faith, with the earliest form being the Coptic ankh. The cross allows for easy identification among Copts and serves as a reminder of early Christian martyrs.

The Coptic cross is a form of the cross that is worn by Coptic Christians, Christians living in parts of North Africa, especially Egypt. Like other Christians, Copts wear the cross as a symbol of their faith and it symbolizes Christ, His sacrifice and God’s everlasting love. Many visitors to regions of Africa with Coptic populations like to purchase Coptic crosses as souvenirs, as they are often incredibly detailed and quite beautiful.

Christianity was introduced to Africa in the 1st century AD, by Mark the Evangelist. He probably he was responsible for the earliest form of the Coptic cross, which was worn by African Christians as a symbol of their faith in Christianity’s nascent days. Today, Mark the Evangelist is recognized as the founder of the Christian church in Africa.

The earliest Coptic cross was the Coptic ankh, which included the perpendicular bars of the cross and a large circle above the top bar. In some cases, the hoop encompassed the entire top bar, while in other cases the top bar was shortened and the hoop was placed on top. The circle in the Coptic ankh was meant to symbolize Christ’s resurrection and God’s everlasting love, and circles continue to be integrated into Coptic crosses today.

Over time, other forms of the Coptic cross evolved. The Coptic Orthodox cross is square, and often heavily ornamented with filigree and fancy detailing, while the Ethiopian cross is a more classic cross, decorated with small crosses and circles. Many Copts wear a form of Coptic cross around their neck and some also get the cross tattooed on their wrists; the history of Coptic tattooing is also very old.

Since Africa includes a blend of many religions, the Coptic cross allows Copts to easily identify with one another and with others. The cross has played this role throughout the history of Christianity, along with a number of other symbols such as the fish, and at one time wearing the cross could be very dangerous; in the Roman Empire, for example, Christians were heavily persecuted in the early days of Christianity. Thus, the cross symbolizes not just belonging to the Christian faith, but a reminder of the early Christian martyrs who died because they wore the cross and refused to renounce their faith.

Protect your devices with Threat Protection by NordVPN

Skip to content