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take the cross

  1. (chiefly historical) To accept a sign, badge of the Christian cross as part of an oath or vow, especially to take part in a crusade.
    • 2007, Edwin Mullins, The Popes of Avignon, Blue Bridge 2008, p. 63:
      And in this respect he was not alone; noblemen throughout Europe were forever taking the cross and vowing loudly to set sail for the Holy Land, only to discover any number of good reasons for not actually doing so.