AskDefine | Define crucifixion

Dictionary Definition



1 the act of executing by a method widespread in the ancient world; the victim's hands and feet are bound or nailed to a cross
2 the death of Jesus on the cross
3 the infliction of extremely painful punishment or suffering [syn: excruciation]

User Contributed Dictionary



noun of process crucifixio, from perfect passive participle crucifixus, fixed to a cross, from prefix cruci-, cross, + verb ficere, fix or do, variant form of facere, do or make


  1. execution by being nailed or tied to an upright cross and left to hang there until dead.
  2. (the Crucifixion) The death on a cross of Christ.


execution by being nailed or tied to an upright cross
  • Czech: ukřižování
  • Dutch: kruisiging
  • Finnish: ristiinnaulitseminen
  • German: Kreuzigung
  • Italian: crocifissione
  • Russian: распятие
  • Slovene: križanje
  • Spanish: crucifixión
  • Swedish: korsfästning
death of the Christ on cross
  • Dutch: kruisiging
  • Finnish: ristiinnaulitseminen
  • German: Kreuzigung
  • Italian: crocifissione
  • Russian: распятие
  • Swedish: korsfästning
Translations to be checked

Related terms

Extensive Definition

Crucifixion is an ancient method of execution, where the condemned is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead.
This form of execution was widely practiced in Ancient Rome and in neighbouring Mediterranean cultures; similar methods were invented in the Persian Empire.
Crucifixion was used by the Romans until AD 337, after Christianity had been legalized in the Roman Empire in 313 and had become the religion favoured by the Emperor Constantine I, but before it became the official state religion. However, crucifixion has been used in various places in modern times.
A crucifix, an image of Christ crucified on a cross, is for Catholic Christians the main symbol of their religion, but most Protestant Christians prefer to use a cross without the figure (the "corpus" - Latin for "body") of Christ.

Details of crucifixion

Crucifixion was almost never performed for ritual or symbolic reasons outside of Christianity, but usually to provide a death that was particularly painful (hence the term excruciating, literally "out of crucifying"), gruesome (hence dissuading against the crimes punishable by it) and public (hence the metaphorical expression "to nail to the cross"), using whatever means were most expedient for that goal. Crucifixion methods varied considerably with location and time period.
The Greek and Latin words corresponding to "crucifixion" applied to many different forms of painful execution, from impaling on a stake to affixing to a tree, to an upright pole (what some call a crux simplex) or to a combination of an upright (in Latin, stipes) and a crossbeam (in Latin, patibulum).
If a crossbeam was used, the condemned man was forced to carry it on his shoulders, which would have been torn open by flagellation, to the place of execution. A whole cross would weigh well over 300 pounds (135 kilograms), but the crossbeam would weigh only 75-125 pounds (35-60 kilograms). The Roman historian Tacitus records that the city of Rome had a specific place for carrying out executions, situated outside the Esquiline Gate, and had a specific area reserved for the execution of slaves by crucifixion. Upright posts would presumably be fixed permanently in that place, and the crossbeam, with the condemned man perhaps already nailed to it, would then be attached to the post.
The person executed may sometimes have been attached to the cross by ropes, but nails are mentioned in a passage of Josephus, where he states that, at the Siege of Jerusalem (70), "the soldiers out of rage and hatred, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest", and in Bible verse |John|20:25. Objects, such as nails, used in the execution of criminals were sought as amulets.
The gibbet on which crucifixion was carried out could be of many shapes. Josephus describes multiple tortures and positions of crucifixion during the siege of Jerusalem (70) as Titus crucified the rebels; and Seneca the Younger recounts: "I see crosses there, not just of one kind but made in many different ways: some have their victims with head down to the ground; some impale their private parts; others stretch out their arms on the gibbet."
At times the gibbet was only one vertical stake, called in Latin crux simplex or palus. This was the simplest available construction for torturing and killing the criminals. Frequently, however, there was a cross-piece attached either at the top to give the shape of a T (crux commissa) or just below the top, as in the form most familiar in Christian symbolism (crux immissa). Other forms were in the shape of the letters X and Y.
The earliest writings that speak specifically of the shape of the cross on which Jesus died describe it as shaped like the letter T (the Greek letter tau), or composed of an upright and a transverse beam, together with a small peg in the upright.

Location of the nails

In popular depictions of crucifixion (possibly derived from a literal reading of the translated description in the Gospel of John, of Jesus' wounds being 'in the hands'), the condemned is shown with nails in their hands. Although historical documents refer to the nails being in the "hands", the word usually translated as "hand", "χείρ" in Greek, referred to arm and hand together, so that, words are added to denote the hand as distinct from the arm, as "ἄκρην οὔτασε χεῖρα" (he wounded the end of the χείρ, i.e. he wounded her hand).
A possibility that does not require tying is that the nails were inserted just above the wrist, between the two bones of the forearm (the radius and the ulna). The nails could also be driven through the wrist, in a space between four carpal bones. The Gospel word (cheir), translated as "hand", can include everything below the mid-forearm: Bible verse |Acts|12:7 uses this word to report chains falling off from Peter's 'hands', although the chains would be around what we would call wrists. This shows that the semantic range of is wider than the English hand, and can be used of nails through the wrist
An experiment that was the subject of a documentary on the National Geographic Channel's Quest For Truth: The Crucifixion, and of a brief news article, showed that a person can be suspended by the palm of their hand. Nailing the feet to the side of the cross relieves strain on the wrists by placing most of the weight on the lower body.
Another possibility, suggested by Frederick Zugibe, is that the nails may have been driven in at an angle, entering in the palm in the crease that delineates the bulky region at the base of the thumb, and exiting in the wrist, passing through the carpal tunnel.
A foot-rest attached to the cross, perhaps for the purpose of taking the man's weight off the wrists, is sometimes included in representations of the crucifixion of Jesus, but is not mentioned in ancient sources. These, however, do mention the sedile, a small seat attached to the front of the cross, about halfway down, which could have served that purpose.

Cause of death

The length of time required to reach death could range from a matter of hours to a number of days, depending on exact methods, the health of the crucified person and environmental circumstances.
A theory attributed to Pierre Barbet holds that the typical cause of death was asphyxiation. He conjectured that when the whole body weight was supported by the stretched arms, the condemned would have severe difficulty inhaling, due to hyper-expansion of the lungs. The condemned would therefore have to draw himself up by his arms, or have his feet supported by tying or by a wood block. Indeed, Roman executioners could be asked to break the condemned's legs, after he had hung for some time, in order to hasten his death. Once deprived of support and unable to lift himself, the condemned would die within a few minutes. If death did not come from asphyxiation, it could result from a number of other causes, including physical shock caused by the scourging that preceded the crucifixion, the nailing itself, dehydration, and exhaustion.
Experiments by Frederick Zugibe have revealed that, when suspended with arms at 60° to 70° from the vertical, test subjects had no difficulty breathing, only rapidly-increasing discomfort and pain. This would correspond to the Roman use of crucifixion as a prolonged, agonizing, humiliating death. Zugibe claims that the breaking of the crucified condemned's legs to hasten death, as mentioned in Bible verse |John|19:31-32, was administered as a coup de grâce, causing severe traumatic shock or hastening death by fat embolism. Crucifixion on a single pole with no transom, with hands affixed over one's head, would precipitate rapid asphyxiation if no block was provided to stand on, or once the legs were broken.
It was, however, possible to survive crucifixion, and there are records of people who did. The historian Josephus, a Judaean who defected to the Roman side during the Jewish uprising of AD66 - 72, describes finding two of his friends crucified. He begged for and was granted their reprieve; one died, the other recovered. Josephus gives no details of the method or duration of crucifixion before their reprieve.

Archaeological evidence for ancient crucifixion

Despite the fact that the ancient Jewish historian Josephus, as well as other sources, refer to the crucifixion of thousands of people by the Romans, there is only a single archaeological discovery of a crucified body dating back to the Roman Empire around the time of Jesus which was discovered in Jerusalem in 1968. It is not surprising that there is only one such discovery, because a crucified body was usually left to decay on the cross and therefore would not be preserved. The only reason these archaeological remains were preserved was because family members gave this particular individual a customary burial.
The remains were found accidentally in an ossuary with the crucified man’s name on it, 'Yehohanan, the son of Hagakol'. Prof. Nicu Haas, an anthropologist at the Hebrew University Medical School in Jerusalem, examined the ossuary and discovered that it contained a heel bone with a nail driven through its side, indicating that the man had been crucified. The position of the nail relative to the bone indicates that the feet have been nailed to the cross from their side, not from their front; various opinions have been proposed as to whether they were both nailed together to the front of the cross or one on the left side, one on the right side. The point of the nail had olive wood fragments on it indicating that he was crucified on a cross made of olive wood or on an olive tree. Since olive trees are not very tall, this would suggest that the condemned was crucified at eye level. Additionally, a piece of acacia wood was located between the bones and the head of the nail, presumably to keep the condemned from freeing his foot by sliding it over the nail. His legs were found broken, perhaps as a means of hastening his death as described in Bible verse |John|19:31-32. It is thought that, since in Roman times iron was expensive, the nails were removed from the dead body to cut the costs, which would help to explain why only one has been found, as the tip of the nail in question was bent in such a way that it couldn't be removed.
Prof. Haas had also identified a scratch on the inner surface of the right radius bone of the forearm, close to the wrist. He deduced from the form of the scratch, as well as from the intact wrist bones, that a nail had been driven into the forearm at that position.
Important references for the ancient practice of crucifixion and an examination of archaeological evidence:
  • Haas, Nicu. “Anthropological observations on the skeletal remains from Giv’at ha-Mivtar”, Israel Exploration Journal 20 (1-2), 1970: 38-59.
  • Tzaferis, Vassilios. “Crucifixion -- The Archaeological Evidence”, Biblical Archaeology Review 11, February, 1985: 44–53.
  • Zias, Joseph. “The Crucified Man from Giv’at Ha-Mivtar: A Reappraisal”, Israel Exploration Journal 35 (1), 1985: 22–27.
  • Hengel, Martin. Crucifixion (Augsburg Fortress, 1977). ISBN 0-8006-1268-X.

History of crucifixion

Pre-Roman States

Probably originating with the Assyrians and Babylonians, it was used systematically by the Persians in the 6th century BC. Alexander the Great brought it from there to the eastern Mediterranean countries in the 4th century BC, and the Phoenicians introduced it to Rome in the 3rd century BC. It was virtually never used in pre-Hellenic Greece Crucifixion, in one form or another, was also used by Achaemenid Persia, the Greeks, Carthaginians, Macedonians and from very early times Rome. There is evidence that captured pirates were crucified in the port of Athens around the 7th century BC.
Some Christian theologians, beginning with Paul of Tarsus writing in Galatians , have interpreted an allusion to crucifixion in Deuteronomy . This reference is to being hanged from a tree, and may be associated with lynching or traditional hanging. However, ancient Jewish law allowed only 4 methods of execution: stoning, burning, strangulation, and decapitation. Crucifixion was thus forbidden by ancient Jewish law.
Alexander the Great is reputed to have executed 2000 survivors from his siege of the Phoenician city of Tyre, as well as the doctor who unsuccessfully treated Alexander's friend Hephaestion. Some historians have also conjectured that Alexander crucified Callisthenes, his official historian and biographer, for objecting to Alexander's adoption of the Persian ceremony of royal adoration.
In Carthage, crucifixion was an established mode of execution, which could even be imposed on a general for suffering a major defeat.

Roman Empire

According to some, the custom of crucifixion in Ancient Rome may have developed out of a primitive custom of arbori suspendere, hanging on an arbor infelix (unfortunate tree) dedicated to the gods of the nether world, but Professor William A. Oldfather wrote a detailed study refuting the idea that this punishment involved any form of hanging or was anything other than flogging to death, and the claim that the "arbor infelix" was dedicated to particular gods. Tertullian mentions a first-century A.D. case in which trees were used for crucifixion, but Seneca the Younger earlier used the phrase infelix lignum (unfortunate wood) for the transom ("patibulum") or the whole cross. According to others, the Romans appear to have learned of crucifixion from the Carthaginians.
Crucifixion was used for slaves, rebels, pirates and especially-despised enemies and criminals. Therefore crucifixion was considered a most shameful and disgraceful way to die. Condemned Roman citizens were usually exempt from crucifixion (like feudal nobles from hanging, dying more honorably by decapitation) except for major crimes against the state, such as high treason.
Notorious mass crucifixions followed the Third Servile War in 73-71 BCE (the slave rebellion under Spartacus), other Roman civil wars in the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE, and the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Josephus tells a story of the Romans crucifying people along the walls of Jerusalem. He also says that the Roman soldiers would amuse themselves by crucifying criminals in different positions. In Roman-style crucifixion, the condemned took days to die slowly from suffocation — caused by the condemned's blood-supply slowly draining away to a quantity insufficient to supply the required oxygen to vital organs. The dead body was left up for vultures and other birds to consume.
The goal of Roman crucifixion was not just to kill the criminal, but also to mutilate and dishonour the body of the condemned. In ancient tradition, an honourable death required burial; leaving a body on the cross, so as to mutilate it and prevent its burial, was a grave dishonour.
Under ancient Roman penal practice, crucifixion was also a means of exhibiting the criminal’s low social status. It was the most dishonourable death imaginable, originally reserved for slaves, hence still called "supplicium servile" by Seneca, later extended to provincial freedmen of obscure station ('humiles'). The citizen class of Roman society were almost never subject to capital punishments; instead, they were fined or exiled. Josephus mentions Jews of high rank who were crucified, but this was to point out that their status had been taken away from them. Control of one’s own body was vital in the ancient world. Capital punishment took away control over one’s own body, thereby implying a loss of status and honour. The Romans often broke the prisoner's legs to hasten death and usually forbade burial.
A cruel prelude was scourging, which would cause the condemned to lose a large amount of blood, and approach a state of shock. The convict then usually had to carry the horizontal beam (patibulum in Latin) to the place of execution, but not necessarily the whole cross. Crucifixion was typically carried out by specialized teams, consisting of a commanding centurion and four soldiers. When it was done in an established place of execution, the vertical beam (stipes) could even be permanently embedded in the ground. The condemned was usually stripped naked - all the New Testament gospels, dated to around the same time as Josephus, describe soldiers gambling for the robes of Jesus. (Bible verse |Matthew|27:35, Bible verse |Mark|15:24, Bible verse |Luke|23:34, Bible verse |John|19:23-25)
The 'nails' were tapered iron spikes approximately 5 to 7 inch (13 to 18 cm) long, with a square shaft 3/8 inch (1 cm) across. In some cases, the nails were gathered afterwards and used as healing amulets.
Emperor Constantine, the first Emperor thought to receive a Christian baptism, abolished crucifixion in the Roman Empire at the end of his reign.

Crucifixion in the Qur'an

The Qur'an mentions crucifixion several times. In Surah 7:124, Firaun (Arabic for Pharoah) says that he will crucify his chief wizards. Also, Surah 12:41 mentions Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) saying that the king (the current ruler of the land he was stranded in) would crucify one of his prisoners.
'And the wizards fell down prostrate, crying: "We believe in the Lord of the Worlds, The Lord of Musa and Harun". Firaun said: "Ye believe in Him before I give you leave! Lo! this is the plot that ye have plotted in the city that ye may drive its people hence. But ye shall come to know! Surely I shall have your hands and feet cut off upon alternate sides. Then I shall crucify you every one."' Surah 7:120-124
'O my two fellow-prisoners! As for one of you, he will pour out wine for his lord to drink; and as for the other, he will be crucified so that the birds will eat from his head. Thus is the case judged concerning which ye did inquire.' Surah 12:41


Crucifixion was used in Japan before and during the Tokugawa Shogunate. It was called Haritsuke in Japanese. The condemned—usually a sentenced criminal—was hoisted upon a T-shaped cross. Then, executioners finished him off with spear thrusts. The body was left to hang for a time before burial.
In 1597, twenty-six Christians were nailed to crosses at Nagasaki, Japan. Among those executed were Paul Miki and Pedro Bautista, a Spanish Franciscan who had worked about ten years in the Philippines. The executions marked the beginning of a long history of persecution of Christianity in Japan, which continued until the United States of America and other Allies defeated Japan at war in 1945, ending World War II.
The acclaimed historical novel "Silence" by Japanese author Shusaku Endo gives an account of the 17th century Christian persecutions based upon the oral histories of contemporary Kakure Kirishitan communities.

Crucifixion as punishment in modern times


In the Fiftieth Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (1994), local bishops reported several cases of crucifixion of Christian priests. Sudan's Penal Code, based upon the government's interpretation of Shari'a, provides for execution by crucifixion. The sentence has been passed as recently as 2002, when 88 people were condemned.


As of 2000, Yemen provides for non-lethal crucifixion of criminals, though this punishment is apparently reserved for those also condemned to death.


During World War I, there were persistent rumors that German soldiers had crucified a Canadian soldier on a tree or barn door with bayonets or combat knives. The event was initially reported in 1915 by Private George Barrie of the 1st Canadian Division. It is generally believed to be an Allied propaganda invention; however, a 2002 programme for Channel 4's Secret History identified the soldier as a Harry Band, which has given arguable credibility to the story.
In 2002, an alleged joyrider was found crucified to a fence in Northern Ireland. Despite the severity of his wounds he survived the attack. The incident was reported by the Guardian.

Crucifixion as a devotional practice

The cover art of Tupac Shakur's album The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory features an image of Tupac being crucified on a cross. However, he states that the image is not a mockery of Christ, but how he's being "crucified" by the media.
In the music video for "Hate Me Now" by Nas featuring Puff Daddy, Nas is seen being crucified.
One of Sevendust's songs in their album Seasons is called Crucified. The only reference to crucifixion in the song is the lyrics "I've been crucified, and no one seems to care" and "The first time I knew you lied, I ended up crucified" It is possible that the latter lyric could refer to Judas "selling out" Christ.
In the music video for "Until It Sleeps" by Metallica, Kirk Hammett was briefly shown crucified in the video.
Carnehan in The Man Who Would Be King and Joe Harmon in A Town Like Alice both survive crucifixion.
"Big Bill Shelley" (played by David Carradine) in the movie Boxcar Bertha, was crucified on the side of a train freight car near the end of the movie. Crucifixion was featured in the comedy film Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979). In one of the more memorable scenes at the end of the film, the viewer is reminded to "always look on the bright side of life" by singers hanging from crosses.
Conan the Barbarian is nailed on a tree in a desert in the Robert Howard story "A Witch Shall be Born".
Characters played by Arnold Schwarzenegger are crucified both in Conan the Barbarian (1982) and in End of Days (1999). Also, in the latter movie a priest is crucified to the ceiling of a hospital room.
The movie Cyborg has multiple scenes of crucifixion.
The movie Men Behind the Sun features mass crucifixion in a scene in which innocent victims are used for various cruel experiments.
The movie Spartacus depicts mass crucifixions along the Appian Way.
The opening scene of the movie Exorcist: The Beginning features a crowd of upside down-crucifixions, mirroring the crucifixion of Saint Peter.
In 1991, Army of Lovers released a single describing voluntary crucifixions as expressions of religious devotion in the Philippines. "Crucified" performed well on the DMR club charts, but controversial lyrics ("I'm crucified, crucified like my Savior; saint-like behavior, a lifetime I pray") precluded widespread radio play.
According to urban legends, a Japanese department store confused Western imagery and displayed a crucified Santa Claus as part of its Christmas decorations.
Robert Cenedella actually painted a crucified Santa Claus as a protest against Christmas commercialization, displayed in the window of New York's Art Students League in December 1997.
The song "The Ballad of John and Yoko" was banned by several US radio stations, due to Lennon's use of the word "Christ" and the phrase "They're gonna crucify me" in the lyric. In fact, the song's working title was "The Ballad of John and Yoko (They're Going to Crucify Me)". Tori Amos's early hit single "Crucify" was also dropped in numerous locations because of its imagery.
Multiple Marilyn Manson videos such as "I Don't Like The Drugs But The Drugs Like Me" and "Coma White" feature crucifixion imagery, often oddly staged in surreal modern or near modern day settings. Often questioning the truthfulness of the crucifixion of Jesus in such songs as Cruci-Fiction in Space.
The song "Auf Achse" by Scottish band Franz Ferdinand describes the crucifixion.
Singer Madonna opened her concerts during her 2006 tour with a mock crucifixion, complete with a Crown of Thorns. This caused considerable controversy, especially when she did so at a concert near Vatican City in 2006.
Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth had several people on stage affixed to crosses to give the appearance of crucifixion at a now infamous concert in Krakow, and repeated this act in the music video for 'Carving a Giant'.
In the 2006 movie, The Nativity Story, there is a brief scene in which several men are crucified.
The music video for the Nine Inch Nails hit single "Closer" features a controversial scene in which a live monkey is tied to a cross in a mock crucifixion.
The FPS game Unreal features crucified Nalis multiple times. However, there is a twist, as Nalis have four arms, so the crosses have two crosspieces in an X-shape.
Wolverine of the X-Men was crucified on an fittingly X-shaped cross in Uncanny X-Men #251. Due to his healing factor, he survived.
In the video for R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion," they feature a scene depicting Thomas fingering the wounds of the crucified Christ.

Professional wrestling

A mock crucifixion was staged by Extreme Championship Wrestling wrestlers Raven and The Sandman in 1996. In a 1998 edition of WWF Monday Night RAW, The Undertaker handcuffed Stone Cold Steve Austin, crucifix-style, to a large version of the Undertaker's symbol, a combination of a shovel, pick, and sickle which resembled a cross.

Anime series

In the anime Bleach on episode 54, when the Shinigami Rukia Kuchiki is about to be executed at the Sogyoku Hill, she's restrained in a position that is very similar to crucifixion.
In episode 74 of the Sailor Moon R series, the Inner Senshi are captured by Rubeus and crucified on rock crystal crosses inside of his space ship. And also in episode 123 of Sailor Moon S, during Chibiusa's nightmare, Hotaru Tomoe is bound on a cross with skeletal arms and hands.
In the short clips Mazin saga, Sayaka Yumi's robot Aphrodite is tied up to a crucifix and is finally rescued by other Go Nagai robots.
In the Pokemon movie Mewtwo Returns, when Mewtwo was forced to be detained by Giovanni's most powerful machine, he was set in a crucified position with a mirror similarity to Jesus's.
In Naruto, Kakashi is on a capital T cross in Itachi's illusion and is stabbed with a sword instead of a spear. Also in Naruto, a young boy's father is murdered on a wooden cross.
At the end of the cultural festival arc of School Rumble S2, Kenji Harima was tied up on a cross and nailed on the ceiling while everyone was celebrating the end of the festival as punishment for sleeping in the bed used for his class play.
Near the end of Neon Genesis Evangelion, the Mass-Production Evangelions fall to earth in cruciform poses, as well as the angel Lilith crucified in Terminal Dogma
In one episode of Samurai Champloo, two of the main characters narrowly escape crucifixion for unknowingly using fake passports at a checkpoint.
In episode 3 of Macross Plus, as Myung Fang Lone attempts to deactivate the Virturoid Idol Sharon Apple, she is caught in coils of audio/video cables before being suspended in mid-air in a crucifix-like stance.
Crucifixion-type imagery is employed in several of the popular Final Fantasy games, including the 7th, 8th, and 10th installments of the series.
In one scene of the Square-Enix videogame, Xenogears, there is a scene involving the crucifixion of mech-robots.
In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Satoko is stabbed with a knife by Shion while chained to a cross.
In One Piece, Luffy finds Roronoa Zoro tied to a wooden cross while being held prisoner by the Navy.

Crucifixion of Jesus in cinema

Movies dating back to the days of the silent films have depicted the crucifixion of Jesus. Most of these follow the traditional (and often inaccurate) pattern established by medieval and Renaissance artists, though there have been several notable exceptions. In The Passover Plot (1976) the two thieves aren't shown to either side of Jesus but instead one is on a cross behind and facing him while the other is on a cross in front of and facing away from him. Ben-Hur (1959) may be the first Biblical movie to show the nails being driven through the wrists rather than the palms. Jesus of Nazareth is one of the first movies to show Jesus carrying just the crossbeam to Calvary rather than the entire cross. The Last Temptation of Christ is the first movie to show Jesus naked on the cross. Image1Image2 In The Gospel of John (2003), Jesus' feet are shown being nailed through the ankle to each side of the upright portion of the cross. In The Passion of the Christ (2004), the crucifixion scene depicts Jesus's hands being impaled, and the centurions dislocating his shoulder in order to impale his right hand, and impaling his feet, and then turning the cross over to block the nails from coming out.


In 2000, British artist Sebastian Horsley had himself nailed to a cross in the Philippines in order to gain inspiration for an art project of his.

Famous crucifixions

  • The rebel slaves of the Third Servile War: Between 73 BC and 71 BC a band of slaves, eventually numbering about 120,000, under the (at least partial) leadership of Spartacus were in open revolt against the Roman republic. The rebellion was eventually crushed, and while Spartacus himself most likely died in the final battle of the revolt, approximately 6,000 of his followers were crucified along the 200 km road between Capua and Rome, as a warning to any other would-be rebels.
  • Jesus of Nazareth, the best-known case of crucifixion, was condemned to crucifixion(most likely in AD 30 or 33) by Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Iudaea province. According to the New Testament, this was at the instigation of the Jewish leaders, who were scandalized at his claim to be the Messiah, see Responsibility for the death of Jesus for details. The civil charge was a claim to be King of the Jews, see also Titulus.
  • Saint Peter, Christian apostle: according to tradition, Peter was crucified upside down at his own request (hence the Cross of St. Peter), as he did not feel worthy to die the same way as Jesus. Note that upside-down crucifixion would not result in death from asphyxiation.
  • Saint Andrew, Christian apostle: according to tradition, crucified on an X-shaped cross, hence the name St. Andrew's Cross
  • Simeon of Jerusalem, 2nd Bishop of Jerusalem, crucified either 106 or 107
  • Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln was an English boy whose disappearance in 1255 prompted a blood libel against the local Jews. A Jewish man was tortured until he confessed to killing the child. The story of Little Saint Hugh became well known through medieval ballad poetry.
  • Archbishop Joachim of Nizhny Novgorod: reportedly crucified upside down, on the Royal Doors of the Cathedral in Sevastopol, Ukrainian SSR in 1920
  • Wilgefortis was venerated as a saint and represented as a crucified woman, however her legend comes from a misinterpretation of the full-clothed crucifix of Lucca.
crucifixion in Arabic: صلب المسيح
crucifixion in Asturian: Crucifixón
crucifixion in Catalan: Crucifixió
crucifixion in Czech: Ukřižování
crucifixion in Danish: Korsfæstelse
crucifixion in German: Kreuzigung
crucifixion in Modern Greek (1453-): Σταύρωση
crucifixion in Spanish: Crucifixión
crucifixion in Esperanto: Krucumado
crucifixion in French: Crucifixion
crucifixion in Korean: 십자가형
crucifixion in Croatian: Razapinjanje
crucifixion in Indonesian: Penyaliban
crucifixion in Italian: Crocifissione
crucifixion in Hebrew: צליבה
crucifixion in Georgian: ჯვარცმა
crucifixion in Lithuanian: Nukryžiavimas
crucifixion in Hungarian: Keresztre feszítés
crucifixion in Dutch: Kruisiging
crucifixion in Japanese: 磔
crucifixion in Norwegian: Korsfestelse
crucifixion in Polish: Ukrzyżowanie
crucifixion in Portuguese: Crucificação
crucifixion in Russian: Распятие (казнь)
crucifixion in Simple English: Crucifixion
crucifixion in Slovak: Ukrižovanie
crucifixion in Slovenian: Križanje (mučenje)
crucifixion in Finnish: Ristiinnaulitseminen
crucifixion in Swedish: Korsfästelse
crucifixion in Thai: การตรึงกางเขน
crucifixion in Turkish: Çarmıh
crucifixion in Contenese: 釘十字架
crucifixion in Chinese: 十字架

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

agony, anguish, atrocious pain, beheading, burning, capital punishment, clawing, cruciation, decapitation, decollation, defenestration, electrocution, excruciation, execution, fusillade, garrote, gassing, hanging, hell, hell upon earth, hemlock, holocaust, horror, judicial murder, laceration, lancination, lapidation, martyrdom, martyrization, necktie party, nightmare, passion, persecution, poisoning, purgatory, rack, shooting, stoning, strangling, strangulation, the ax, the block, the chair, the gallows, the gas chamber, the guillotine, the hot seat, the rope, torment, torture
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