"Why do Catholics have a "crucifix" and Protestant have plain crosses?"

By Paul Dion, STL

Here is a question that a young person asked me two weeks ago that I have decided to present to you. This is a thought provoking question that has more than one correct answer. So you should have no shyness about submitting what you think it should be.

I will even give you a hint... All the answers that I will propose to you will be based on Scripture stories. The easiest one might be the story about a problem that the Israelites had as they were walking through the desert after escaping from Egypt. God gave Moses the cure for the problem.

Some of you have noticed that there are crosses that have a small statue of the body of Jesus attached to them and there are crosses that are plain and have no representation of a human attached to the front. The crosses which have the statue attached to the front will be seen in Catholic Churches and never in Protestant churches.

The burning question is: Why do Catholics have a "crucifix" and Protestant Christians have plain cross?

Share your thoughts with us. The comment box is below.

CLICK HERE to see the answer to this Burning Question.


  1. Iconoclasm... same reason why Eastern Christians, in the past, under the influence of Isalm, smashed statues and destroyed icons.

    They claim it is "idolatrous".


  2. In the Eastern Churches there has always been a certain prejudice against solid statues. This attitude has maintained itself to the present time. It is also why there continue to be icons in all Eastern churches, including icons of Christ crucified, but no crucifixes.
    The muslims and some christian leaders erased all the faces in the paintings and mosaics in the churches that they left standing (one in Bethlehem for sure) in their ravagement of the Holy Land.
    It is interesting to note that the veneration of holy images in many parts of christendom has thrived from very early on in our history despite some very strict interpretations of the Torah in these matters.
    Laurence's answer is correct. has provided a positive aspect of the topic in the "answer" section.

    Paul Dion, STL
    Theology Editor

  3. Dennis Sheahan1:38 PM

    The Corpus on the cross proclaims the humanity of Christ. It emphasizes the reality of the sacrifice of Calvary and also the reality of the sacrifce of the mass. Jesus Christ is God, the Second Person of the Trinity, immortal, imperishable, eternal, not subject to death. Jesus Christ is human and as a man is subject to death and does in fact die after incredible suffering and is buried. (you can look it up; it's in the Creeds.) The beaten and bloodied body on he cross testifies to this reality.

  4. Just a little apologetical addition:

    1Co 1:22-23 DRB For both the Jews require signs: and the Greeks seek after wisdom. (23) But we preach Christ crucified: unto the Jews indeed a stumblingblock, and unto the Gentiles foolishness:

    I will read the "answer" section. I hope this wasnt already mentioned.


  5. As a convert to Roman Catholicism, this was one of the first items a had to consider while making the journey. Simply viewed, both crosses, the plain and the one with Christ on the Cross stress the centrality of the Cross in the drama of the salvation of humanity. One points to His sacrifice ON the cross, the other to His Victory after the crucifixion. Both are true - both are poignant reminders of God's love for mankind.

  6. From my perspective, the crucifix that the Catholic Church uses is to venerate the fact that God in the person of Jesus Christ, took our sins upon His person, suffered for them, and died for them so that we could be forgiven for them. The Catholic crucifix, therefore, reminds us of that fact.
    Protestant churches don't put the same emphasis on that as much as they value the Resurrected Christ (cross without the body). Of course, the Catholic Church also celebrates the risen Christ, but has always held Christ's death for us as the Supreme sacrifice and indicative of His love for us.