Tau, the Cross much-loved by St. Francis was used symbolically in the Old Testament and is based on the last letter of Hebrew alphabet. Tau Cross is also called the Cross of Tau, the Cross of St. Francis and the Cross of St. Anthony.
Tau Cross in The Bible
First time TAU was mentioned in the Book of Ezekiel: “The Lord said to him, ‘Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over the abominations” (Ezekiel 9:4). Hence based on Ezekiel, an angel, St. Gabriel was directed by God to go and mark the foreheads of the faithful with the Tau symbol. Thus those who marked with the Tau were saved from the destruction.
St.Francis and Tau Cross
Traditionally it is believed that St. Anthony, the Egyptian hermit carried a Tau cross. But it was St. Francis and the Franciscan order that popularized the use of the Tau cross. St.Francis was familiar with the religious community that was led by St. Anthony the hermit, a community which was active in Assisi during St. Francis’s time. And it is believed that this is probably where St.Francis first encountered the Tau Cross.
St.Francis used the TAU cross symbol in his writings, painted it everywhere, on the walls and doors of the places where he stayed, used it as his only signature on his writings and the symbol for his order.
Tau cross – A Symbol
The Tau cross as a symbol is typically very simple and it remained us of our own Christian call and sincerity of response. And it is a sign of the awareness of a Christian, i.e. a sign that reminds us that we too must be strong in time of trial, ready to obey the Father, as Jesus was obedient before the Father’s will.
– – – written by Binu Jose