04 November 2013

Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews - INRI

A Christian cross is not the same as a crucifix.

An empty cross is a symbol of the resurrection, of God’s power and our hope.

A crucifix is a cross to which the body of Jesus is fixed or superimposed. It is a symbol of sacrifice and love, of giving everything in obedience to God’s will - even to the point of death.

Many crucifixes, such as this one at St Mary Magdalene’s, have a small scroll or plaque above Jesus’ head displaying the letters INRI. This is called a Titulus. The letters represent the phrase “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum”, Latin for “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”.

Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor who condemned Jesus to death, wrote this title in Hebrew and Greek and Latin and caused it to be fixed to the head of the cross.

The Chief Priests of the Jews complained that the titulus was misleading and should have read “This man claimed to be the King of the Jews”, Pilate simply said: “What I have written, I have written.”

Crucifix at the High Altar. Photo by Stephanie Edwards

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