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The cross itself was a vertical stake in the ground which often had a horizontal piece attached at the top or just below the top of the vertical piece. Death on a cross was both execution and extreme torture. The victim to be executed on the cross would be attached to it until death. At times an inscription would be attached to the cross to state the victim's crime. Crucifixion was a shameful death that carried with it a considerable stigma in Jesus' day. Jesus' death on a cross is described in the NT gospels (Mt 27, Mk 15, Lk 23, Jn 19). 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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