When should you make the sign of the cross?

By March 21, 2018Articles, Q&A
When should you make the sign of the cross?

Christians from the early Church left us detailed instructions.

Christians have been making the sign of the cross over their bodies from the very beginning of the Church. Christian apologist Tertullian wrote during the 3rd century, “We Christians wear out our foreheads with the sign of the cross.”

It is a pious custom that is familiar among Catholics and Eastern Christians, but is typically only performed before and after prayers. However, writers from the 3rd and 4th century had a different view about the sign of the cross. They firmly believed that it should permeate every activity and wrote down how often they performed the religious act.

Below is a detailed description provided by Tertullian from the 3rd century. He promotes a much wider use of the sign of the cross, calling down God’s grace upon every activity that we do. You may be surprised at how often he suggests it should be performed.

Putting on your shoes. Tertullian: “In all our travels and movements, in all our coming in and going out, in putting on our shoes…”


In the bathtub. Tertullian: “…at the bath…”


At the dinner table. Tertullian: “…at the table…”

At bedtime. Tertullian: “…in lying down…”

In Every Occupation. Tertullian: “…whatever employment occupies us, we mark our foreheads with the sign of the cross.”

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