The TAU

TAU is the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet. It was the sign of the Greek god Attis, the Roman god Mithras, and the Druid god Hu. The TAU cross was inscribed on the forehead of every person admitted into the Mysteries of Mithras. When a king was initiated into the Egyptian Mysteries, the TAU was placed against his lips. In ancient Egypt, the TAU represented the Sacred Opening, or gateway, or portal. It was also used to mark sacred water vessels. In fact, the TAU was an important sacred symbol in ancient Egyptian culture and architecture. When sacred TAU’s are joined together horizontally, they represent a temple. In ancient Egypt, huge columns were erected in this fashion. Henges in Britain (Stonehenge) are Sacred Tau’s joined together, very often in a circular design, to form a temple. A double TAU forms a “Dolmen”, like those found in Ireland. The first recorded Judeo-Christian reference to the TAU is from Ezekiel 9:4, “Go through the city of Jerusalem and mark a TAU (usually translated as “ make a mark” or “mark a cross”, but in the original Hebrew text the rendition is “mark a taw or tav”, that is, the last letter of the old Hebrew alphabet) on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it”… The TAU was worn by the “Antonians”, also known as the “Hospital Brothers of St. Antony”, a religious community of men founded in 1095 with the purpose of caring for those suffering from the common medieval disease of St. Anthony's fire (leprosy). Very often when you see St. Antony depicted in medieval art, the TAU is either embroidered on his clothing or he holds a walking stick in the shape of a TAU. It is reasonable to assume, given the prominence of the TAU in the religious and cultural history of Ancient Egypt, that the TAU was a sacred symbol for Antony himself. The TAU was painted on the habit of the medieval order of the Antonians. They were disbanded as an Order by the Church in the 16th century when leprosy was no longer a problem. At the Fourth Lateran Council, on November 11, 1215, Pope Innocent III made reference to the TAU and quoted the Ezekiel 9:4 verse in reference to the profaning of the Holy Places by the Saracens: “The TAU has exactly the same form as the Cross on which our Lord was crucified on Calvary, and only those will be marked with this sign and will obtain mercy who have mortified their flesh and conformed their life to that of the Crucified Savior". At the end of his homily Innocent exclaimed: “BE CHAMPIONS OF THE TAU”. St. Francis of Assisi was present and he must have taken this to heart for it would become his sacred symbol. Before the Fourth Lateran Council, St. Francis could have seen the Tau on the habits of the Antonians. St. Bonaventure said, “This TAU symbol had all the veneration and all the devotion of the saint (Francis): he spoke of it often in order to recommend it, and he traced it on himself before beginning each of his actions”. Francis preferred the Tau above all other symbols: he utilized it as his only signature for his letters, and he painted the image of it on the walls of all the places in which he stayed. St. Francis would also stretch out his arms, to show his friars that their habit was also the Tau Cross. He instructed them to not only let that serve as a reminder, but also as an active symbol for them to be a walking crucifix in their lives.