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The cross has been the traditional focus of Christian piety. The practice of making the sign of the cross on the forehead dates from the second century. Devotion to the cross was spurred by the alleged finding of the true cross of Jesus' crucifixion in the fourth century. Use of altar crosses dates from the fifth century, and use of processional crosses dates from the sixth century. During the middle ages, large crosses, or roods, were placed on beams at the dividing point between the chancel and nave of the church. Designs for crosses became very ornate, and some crosses were decorated with jewels. 

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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