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Italian Olive Wood Tau Crucifix
on Leather Lacing with
Free St. Peter Postcard
A wonderful Olive Wood Tau Cross on Lace! Made in Italy, the Tau Cross is 1 1/2" x 1 1/2", displaying Jesus in detailed zama (metal) image. A simple but beautiful spiritual gift from Italy! St. Peter Postcard included with each cross.
History of the Tau Cross:
After his commission at the foot of the San Damiano Cross, Saint Francis chose a more ancient symbol of redemption as his standard: the Tau cross.
In commenting on the scriptures of Israel, the early Christian writers used its Greek translation, the Septuagint, in which the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the tau, was transcribed as a “T” in Greek. Prefigured in the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, then, the stylized Tau cross came to represent the means by which Christ reversed the disobedience of the old Adam and became our Savior as the “New Adam.”
Saint Francis had first encountered this symbol when he was caring for lepers. He and the religious followers of St. Anthony the Hermit, who were working with him, used Christ’s cross—shaped like a Greek “T”—as a protection against the plague and other skin diseases. Saint Francis eventually accepted and adapted the “T” as his own crest and signature. For him, the “T” represented life-long fidelity to the Passion of Christ. It was his pledge to serve the least, the leper and outcast of his day.
The Tau imagery was intensified when Pope Innocent III opened the Fourth Latern Council (1215) using the exhortation of the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel (9:4): We are called to reform our lives, to stand in the presence of God as righteous people. God will know us by the sign of the “Tau” marked on our foreheads. This symbolic imagery, used by the same Pope who commissioned Francis’ new community a brief five years earlier, was immediately taken to heart as the friars’ call to reform.
Knowing that the best documents and decrees from “above” go unnoticed until they are translated into good deeds in the streets “below,” Saint Francis stretched out his arms and proclaimed to his friars that their religious habit (tunic) was the Tau cross. Not only did the habit reflect the shape of this cross, but it also wrapped each friar in his life-long commitment to become a walking crucifix, the incarnation of a compassionate God.