I chose the Santiago Cross. I knew I wanted something Catholic, and I've been fascinated by the Santiago Cross ever since some friends and I made the cheaters' pilgrimage to Santiago de Campostela in November of 2006. (We took a plane rather than walk. Give us a break; we only had one weekend to spare!) Our family history of sixteenth century conquistadors and eighteenth century Canarian colonists was all the excuse I needed to adopt this militant-looking Spanish cross. I've been wearing it on a chain for years now.
My research into the symbolism behind it is concisely summarized by Wikipedia:
"The Cross of St. James is similar to a Cross flory fitchy and is formed by a cross flory, where the lower part is fashioned as a sword blade (rather like fitched or fitchee or fitchy) - making this a cross of a warrior. It was popularized then due to its resemblance to a sword, symbolizing in a sense taking up the sword for the name of Christ. . . . This form is said to have originated at the time of the Crusades, when the crusaders carried small crosses with pointed lower arms, capable of being thrust into the ground at a time of daily devotions."
"The insignia of the Order of Santiago is a bright red cross simulating a sword and has the shape of a fleur-de-lis on the handle and on the arms. . . . The three fleurs-de-lis represent spotless honour (an honour of having defeated an enemy without spilling blood), which makes reference to the moral characteristics of the apostle St. James. The sword represents the knightly character of the apostle and refers his martyrdom, since he was decapitated by sword."
I have a feeling the persecution is coming, and in light of that I am perfectly happy to brand myself with a crusader's cross. However, the tattoo process is not something I am keen to repeat. Ouch.