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When did the "upside down cross" become a symbol of anti-Christianity? I can find no mention of it in the Bible. However there is, in Christian history, the story of Peter's execution – which really isn't a sign of anti-Christianity but the admiration he had for Jesus. Is there a line in the sand date when this became an anti-Christian symbol?

  • I'm not going to add an answer since I don't have an official source - but from what I understand - originally used in movies, the inverted cross always started upright with the corpus (that's Jesus) on it - and would be "inverted" by whatever demonic force was present in the movies, signifying Christ (and His followers) being doomed to Hell. Mostly originally attributed, if I recall, to the film The Masque of the Red Death (1964). – Jesse Mar 16 '15 at 17:36
  • So, it is possible that for 1964 + 32 = 1996 years, it was not a symbol? Thanks for an area to research. – The Freemason Mar 16 '15 at 18:07
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    Is this question really about Christianity? In Christian iconography an upside down cross does not mean anything anti-Christian. It's the cross that Saint Peter was crucified on. – King David Mar 17 '15 at 6:55
  • Yes, the question is when did Christians start believing that that upside down cross is anti-christian vs being the cross of Peter. I agree with your assertion, however in practice I know of no Christian who would say, "oh look, it's the cross of Peter!" as a first thought. – The Freemason Mar 17 '15 at 12:34
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    Side note - Peter's actual execution isn't mentioned in the Bible, but a matter of church tradition. – Clockwork-Muse Mar 17 '15 at 13:40
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Eugène Vintras (1807–1875) may be the first to use the inverted cross in a distinctly anti-Christian way. He was a Gnostic revivalist operating in France during the middle of the 19th century. He preached the end of the age, and claimed to have received messages from Michael the Archangel and that he himself was a reincarnation of Elijah. He was condemned by the Vatican, and subsequently began using an upside-down cross:

Vintras, following further attacks from the Church, adopted the inverted cross as the symbol of the new dispensation of which he was the prophet, inverted because the Reign of the Suffering Christ had been superseded by the Reign of the Holy Spirit of Love.1

His masses reportedly included "chalices magically overflowing with blood," and occultist Eliphas Levi considered the inverted cross that Vintras wore as "indicative of satanic influences":2

Eugène Vintras

The practices of Vintras's followers were even more bizarre, and the symbol thereafter began to be associated with the occult more generally, such as in a 1891 novel, Là-bas:

His costume was a long robe of vermilion cashmere caught up at the waist by a red and white sash. Above this robe he had a white mantle of the same stuff, cut, over the chest, in the form of a cross upside down.3

It's also used in a 1903 depiction of 17th century occultist Étienne Guibourg (link is possibly an occasion for sin). In the (cropped) image below, he is shown wearing an upside-down cross as he performs a Black Mass during the Affair of the Poisons:

Étienne Guibourg Black Mass

I haven't found any indication that Guibourg actually wore an inverted cross, but rather that he was only depicted that way once Vintras's use of it became associated with occultism more generally.

Summary

If one includes Gnosticism within Christianity, then perhaps Vintras's use of the inverted cross would not be considered "anti-Christian." However, at the very least, his use of it and his perceived involvement with the occult caused the symbol to become generally associated with Satanism by the end of the 19th century.


  1. Richard D. E. Burton, Blood in the City: Violence and Revelation in Paris, 1789–1945, 164
  2. James Randall Noblitt, Cult and Ritual Abuse: Narratives, Evidence, and Healing Approaches, 161
  3. Joris-Karl Huysmans, Là-bas, Chapter XX
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Apparently the inverted cross first was associated with evil in Bloodwolf’s book “ Chaos Lord." Antiwolf jpg

But modern Satanists may have chosen it as a symbol of anti Christianity due to the use of that symbol on the album cover of a Black Sabbath album in the 1960's

Most of this is from memory going back a few years and really is nothing more than my thoughts from having looked into it some time ago.

  • Downvoted because there is nothing even close to the first paragraph one can find via Google. It looks more like a poor photoshop or paint composite. Furthermore, Black Sabbath's first album came out in the 70s - and no album art features an inverted cross. Edit: Found Bloodwulf's book. The "satanic inverted cross" predates it. – Jesse Mar 16 '15 at 23:40
  • @Jesse as I said in my answer most of it came from memory. I do not really care that you down voted my answer, but your edit does lend creditability to my first paragraph. As far as the date of the Black Sabbath being wrong on the date is my fault I am not and never have been a fan of that group, I found the cover illustrated somewhere during my studies, I do not remember where and did not make a copy of it. I will try to find it and let you know where it is located. – BYE Mar 17 '15 at 2:14
  • @Jesse If the Satanic cross predates the book that's okay but it was the earliest depiction of a inverted cross where it was tied to an evil, I could find at the time, and that is why I made the statement Apparently. In truth that is not a subject I have spent a lot of time contemplating or researching. My goal is to learn as much as I can about the Bible and only got into the subject researching the Apostle Peter and the other Apostles deaths. – BYE Mar 17 '15 at 2:23

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