Perhaps one of you learned members might direct me somewhere fruitful. I
am interested in a discussion of the original meaning of the term/idea to
take the cross (assumpsit crucem - or any equivalent phrase) with respect
to the crusades.
The origin of the term 'Crucesignatus/i' is primarily a
liturgical and later a more broadly utilised ecclesiastical
distinction emerging from within the increasingly complex
organization of the ritualia of the stational Liturgies at Rome.(
5th-6thc), although I suspect the practice well preceded its formal
attribution. It was attached, not as the name might suggest
exclusively to the official bearers of the insignia ( banners) of the
individual churches, or of the Cross which led the processions as
gathered along the stational route
( although those positions were 'crucesignatus' ( officially
commisioned with the signing of the cross, and, in the beginning of
the practice, with annointing, by the chief celebrant/commissioner),
but increasingly to any task/mission appointed by the leader of that
particular Christian community, to be accomplished in the name of
that leader/episcopos and his community. The practice came, as I
imagine such designations must have increased rapidly in number and
with more and more lattitude in the nature of the task, to be the
reserved prerogative assumed by the Bishop of Rome . The practice,
however, of signing someone with the cross ( and, early on,
annointing) for an official mission remained a practice in local
episcopates, and even within local communities. The importance of the
liturgical/ecclesiastical designation lay in who was the
crucesignator, since it was to be in 'in loco suo' and 'in loco
ecclesiae____'(fill in the See) that the crucesignatus operated.
Hence these Crusaders, marked with the sign of the Cross ( in this
case, physically and visibly as well able to mark their garments with
the ensign of the Cross)
were 'on commission' specifically of the Bishop of Rome,for whom
control of ground,and strategic operations was a vital issue in
emerging dialogue of who was to have ultimate control in a
'Christian World Order'
For a brief intro. to the liturgical term and its use in those
Stational Liturgies, see:
Willis, Geoffrey Grimshaw.
Essays in early Roman liturgy / [by] G.G. Willis.
London, S.P.C.K., 1964.
>I have some rather extensive notes on the use of this term from the
>5th to the 10th cc, if you are interested, I could send them on to
I hope this helps.
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