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The crucifix is an ancient Christian symbol that has been represented in icons since the 300's The crucifix is a cross that depicts the dead or dying Christ nailed to it as opposed to a simple cross that lacks the "corpus" - Christ's body.
Crucifixes are something lacking in most Protestant art and jewelry which tends to favor the plain cross. For Catholics, wearing a crucifix necklace is a sign that you are Catholic and also a reminder of the suffering Christ endured for our sins.
Crucifix necklaces come in a variety of styles including the Benedictine crucifix which features the St. Benedict Medal embedded in the cross and the San Damiano Crucifix which St. Francis saw in a vision.