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Catholic Dictionary




Execution of a criminal by nailing or binding to a cross. Originally used in the East, it was adopted by the Romans and was commonly inflicted on any condemned person who could not prove Roman citizenship. Normally preceded by scourging, it was later (from A.D. 69) imposed on certain lower-class citizens. Emperor Constantine abolished this method of capital punishment.

The crucifixion of Christ between two thieves is recorded by all four Evangelists. According to tradition, the cross of Christ was a crux immissa, with the upright extended above the transom. Also, most probably, Christ was fixed to the cross with four nails and covered with a loincloth, as prescribed by the Talmud.