Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Swiss or Greek?

Yesterday, Best of the Web commented on some odd behavior at the International Red Cross:

You may be wondering how an outfit called the Red Cross can be so skittish about Christianity. The "cross" in Red Cross is not actually a crucifix, but rather the Swiss battle standard (which appears on the Swiss flag as a white cross on a red background). On the Swiss cross, unlike the Christian one, both vertical arms are of the same length.

This doesn't really get the Red Cross off the hook. The "Swiss Cross" is just a version of the Greek Cross, which is every bit as Christian as the Latin Cross - which has one long arm.

The Greek Cross is so Christian that the original Bramante/Michelangelo plan for the reconstructed Saint Peter's in the Vatican was in this shape. That plan was accepted by the Pope, but later enlarged into a Latin Cross because more space was needed.

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