The Celtic cross is probably the most famous symbol of Celtic Christianity. It is a cross which has a ring or circle around its intersection. The Celtic cross design was often used for the richly decorated high crosses made of stone in Ireland and Britain during the Middle Ages.
Legends state that the Celtic Christian cross was introduced by Saint Patrick who combined the symbol of Christianity with the sun cross, a pagan symbol of a cross inside a circle, to show the importance of the cross by linking it with the idea of the life-giving properties of the sun. Other interpretations see the cross on top of the circle as representing Christ’s supremacy over the pagan sun.
There was a resurgence of interest in Celtic and other insular art in the 19th and 20th centuries which is often referred to as the Celtic revivals. During this time the Celtic cross became popular for cemetery monuments and its use spread beyond Ireland and the British Isles.
The Celtic cross is still popular today in jewelry, on clothing and other items, and even as a tattoo design.