Why does the Presbyterian Cross have a circle on it?

A question from a reader: Hi all,

I am Presbyterian, and have always wondered why the cross has a circle on it. I am not talking about the cross with the dove, bible, stand, etc., but a normal cross with a circle on it. To see an example of what I am talking about, go to Wikipedia, type in “Presbyterian” and go to the “Doctrine” section of the page. There will be picture of the cross.

Anyway, does anyone know for sure what the circle means or why it is there? This has never been explained to me, and I have always been curious about it.


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11 Responses to “Why does the Presbyterian Cross have a circle on it?”

  • Trina™ says:

    Shhh, don’t let anyone know that it is Pagan… it comes from the zodiac. 🙂

  • ticd says:

    thats of celtic origins i believe…

  • Yahweh's Toaster says:

    I’m used to the Presbyterian cross with the flame, dove, Bible, pulpit, etc. Though this just may be a symbol for the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.

    The circle with the cross symbolizes God being eternal; the circle having no beginning or end. It’s known as a Celtic Cross, I believe, though the version you saw was probably a very simple one.


  • Laura J says:

    Its purely astrological.

    This explains the cross with the circle clearly http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com

  • vajrasattva1 says:

    So they wouldn’t have to be embarrassed by singing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”?

  • Serena says:

    That’s the Celtic cross, which is a variation on the “solar cross”. Just a bit of trivia for you – the Celtic cross predated Christianity. There are examples of Celtic crosses as far back as 5000 BCE.

  • andrewhelmann says:

    The circle is on the cross to support the “T” section when it was placed on top of a headstone.

    Presbyterians often chose the same style of grave marker when they passed on.

    In order to make the stone work stronger, they added the circle for extra support. Since so many of these began showing up, it just came to be associated with the Presbyterians.

    Yeah, you can work what ever symbology into it that you want, but originally it was there to help the cross portion of the head stone last longer.

  • Snow Globe says:

    Yahweh’s Toaster is right. The Celtic cross is used because the Presbyterian Church began in Scotland. It is an ancient cross from those parts. The circle is for eternity and unity. On some of the old ones, there are wonderful carvings that intertwine and never end. I went to the PC(USA), which has the cross and dove/flame, but in the church was a Celtic cross. Man, I miss that church.


  • . says:

    If you’re interested, this is a popular forum for Presbyterian Christians, you may find more answers here…


  • regztfen says:

    Close examination reveals the cross to be composed of four persons, their arms interlocked.

  • brent smith says:

    The Presbyterian Church started in Scottland. Before Scottland was ruled by the English it was a Celtic country and worshipped the Sun God. The symbol for the Celtic Sun God was a circle with a cross in the middle that looked like a plus sign. As a marketing scheme by St Patrick when he started the Catholic Church in the also Celtic country of Ireland he combined the Celtic cross with the Christian cross. When St Patrick’s version of the Christian religion spread to the other Celtic countries like Scottland the Celtic Cross came with it. You will notice that on the older Presbyterian crosses the Christian cross is on top of the Celtic cross to show that Christianity was the dominant religion.

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