One of the many beauties of marrying in a Catholic church is being able to profess your love in front of family, friends, and of course, God. However, in Croatia, brides and grooms have a beautiful tradition that invites Christ into their marriage from the moment they head to the altar. And it’s a tradition that could very well be behind the 0% divorce rate in the region where it was established!
As the couple approach the altar they carry a crucifix. The priest then says: “You have found your cross. And it is a cross to be loved, to be carried, a cross not to be thrown away, but to be cherished.” He will then bless the cross.
When the couple goes to exchange their vows they each have their right hands on the cross, as if to entwine Christ into their marriage. They then say their vows and kiss Christ on the cross, before kissing each other; after all it is from Him that their love emanates.
The couple then take their crucifix home and hang it up as a constant reminder that Christ is the source of inspiration in their marriage, especially when times get tough.
Interestingly, the meaningful tradition comes from a small town in the neighboring country of Bosnia and Herzegovina, called Siroki-Brijeg, which has about 30,000 inhabitants. And in this town, which is predominantly Catholic, there is a zero divorce rate, according to NC Register.
Perhaps these marriages are so successful because couples work hard at their marriages. Or maybe it’s because they invited Christ to be at the heart of their union from the very beginning.
“Like a bridegroom Christ went forth from his chamber…. He came to the marriage-bed of the cross, and there in mounting it, he consummated his marriage. And when he perceived the sighs of the creature, he lovingly gave himself up to the torment in place of his bride, and joined himself to [her] forever.”
The sacrificial love of Jesus invites couples to embrace the sacrifices they will have to make in their own marriages. And by acknowledging that marriage is not always an easy road to take together, the Marriage Crucifix allows couples to lean on the example set by Christ Himself, throughout their lives together.