Christianity is the world's largest religion, with 2 billion followers. Its most ubiquitous symbol is the cross,. The Bible also remains a universally sacred object for Christians. Beyond the cross and the Bible, some Christians also consider the rosary and holy water to hold religious significance. Although the authenticity of relics like the Shroud of Turin and the fragments of the True Cross have never been proven true scientifically, they still retain a mythological, even mystic, status for many Christians.
The Bible, which Christians believe is the word of God, is one of the religion's most sacred objects. It is composed of two sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament, also referred to as the Hebrew Bible (and the Torah for Jews), has 39 books and was written between 1200 and 165 B.C., while the New Testament has 27 books and was written during the first century A.D.
The cross, a simple geometric shape made up of two bars, is arguably the most universally recognized religious symbol in the world. A cross is on display at every Christian church, as well as in homes and in art work. It symbolizes the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the religion's most significant figure and whom Christians believe was the son of God. Although the cross is a sign of suffering, it also is a symbol of hope and redemption for Christians.
The rosary, a string of beads or a knotted rope, is used by Catholics to recite prayers. Today, the most commonly used Catholic rosary is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin. The rosary is also used by Greek Orthodox (Eastern Orthodox) church and the Anglican church.
Holy water, used in both the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, is sacred water, blessed by the clergy. As water is commonly used as a symbol of rebirth and purification in Christianity (such as the symbol of water in baptisms), holy water is sprinkled to bless a space, such as a room or a house, or a person.
Some objects hold a mythological status for Christians. For example, the Shroud of Turin is believed by some to be Jesus Christ's burial garment. The linen, preserved by the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista, portrays the outline of a male body. It is purported to include images of stigmata (the wounds created on Christ's body from being nailed to the cross), as well as blood stains. Scientific tests have proven inconclusive, yet many Christians believe that this shroud is outlined by the image of Christ. Like the Shroud of Turin, the True Cross -- the cross believed to have been used for Jesus' crucifixion -- maintains a mythical status. Legend says that Constantine the Great's mother found the True Cross during a pilgrimage to Palestine. Shortly after, fragments of the True Cross were sold. Although Protestant theologians argued that if the fragments were unified into one cross, it would be much too large to have been Jesus' crucifixion cross, Roman Catholic theologians replied by stating that the cross was sacred, which made it possible for it to be infinitely divided.
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