The Croatian Marriage Crucifix Tradition

A photo of a gold and white crucifix at for the Croatian Marriage Blessing
Beauty of the Soul Studio

As Catholics, we recognize that Christ’s death on the cross is the ultimate act of sacrificial love. This is why the crucifix is known as the symbol of the sacrament of marriage; it exemplifies the same type of sacrificial love that husbands and wives should have for each other as Christ has for His Church. 

There is a small town in Bosnia–Herzegovina called Siroki-Brijeg that truly understands this in so far as to incorporate it into their wedding masses. This tradition is known as the Croatian Marriage Crucifix. This town has held onto this tradition for centuries and even attributes their 0% divorce rate to this beautiful devotion to the crucifix. 

The Croatian Marriage Crucifix tradition begins with the bride and groom processing into the church carrying a crucifix. The crucifix is then blessed by the priest saying, “You have found your cross. And it is a cross to be loved, to be carried, a cross not to be thrown away, but to be cherished.” Then when it comes time for the vows, the bride places her right hand on the crucifix and the groom places his right hand on top of his bride’s, displaying that the crucifix is the foundation of their marriage. One of the most beautiful aspects of this tradition is that before kissing one another, the bride and groom kiss the crucifix. 

This crucifix is important, not just during the couples’ wedding ceremony, but throughout their whole marriage! After their wedding, the newly-weds bring this crucifix into their home to display in a place of honor to constantly remind them of the vow they made to each other and of the sacrificial love they are called to show to one another. It becomes the focal point, not just of their home, but of their family. It is the place where the family unites in prayer and their children venerate the crucifix every night before going to bed. 

The Marriage Crucifix emulates that marriage is a vocation, a call to holiness. It will come with trials and tribulations, and when those times come, it becomes even more essential for husband and wife to be united together with the crucifix, remembering that this is the foundation of their marriage and the type of love that their marriage should strive for!

Of course, this tradition is not necessary, but it has evolved into a beautiful way to begin one’s vocation as husband and wife united with Christ on the cross. Are you hoping to incorporate this beautiful tradition at your wedding? Speak with your priest and ask if he can include this timeless prayer in your marriage rite!

Photos courtesy of Beauty of the Soul Studio

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