What does it mean to venerate the cross?

The "Veneration of the Cross" is a specific ceremony in the Good Friday liturgy as well as a simple devotional practice that can be preformed by the faithful.

Venerating a cross is simply the humble act of kissing a crucifix. It must be a crucifix and not a bare cross; if the body of Jesus Christ - called a "corpus" - is not represented on the cross, then this is not a crucifix and you cannot therefore make a true veneration. In many modern churches a bare cross is used in the Good Friday service; this is an erroneous practice. During a Good Friday service, when it is time in the ceremony, people line up to venerate the cross just as they would do if they were going to Communion.

If you have a crucifix at home and out of personal devotion you kiss it, this is also properly called a veneration of the cross. The customary place to venerate the cross is the feet of the corpus. During a Good Friday service, if you have an open wound or sickness that can be communicated by the mouth, you may venerate the cross by placing your right hand upon the feet of the corpus for a moment.

There is one exception to rule above when a cross can properly be used in place of a crucifix: any cross that contains a relic of the true cross - that is an actual piece of the cross Jesus Christ died upon at Calvary - does not have to have a corpus upon it. The correct way to venerate this type of rare cross is to kiss the glass reliquary behind which the fragment is visible. If no reliquary is visible, the exact spot for veneration is not important, though kissing the foot of the cross is customary.


During the Good Friday Liturgy of the Catholic Faith, Veneration of the Cross IS ONLY supposed to be a cross, NOT a crucifix. The accompany intonation is "Behold the WOOD of the Cross".