The Marian Cross is an informal name applied to a Roman
Catholic cross design. It consists of a traditional
Latin cross with the crossbar extended on the right, and a letter "M"(for
the Virgin Mary) in the lower right quadrant. A recently publicized use
of the Marian Cross was on the personal coat of arms of Pope John Paul II, displayed prominently on his casket at his funeral,
although it may have been in use before this. A similar design had appeared over a century earlier on the Miraculous Medal
due to a Marian apparition to Saint Catherine Labouré in 1830, where the M represents the Virgin Mary standing at the
foot of the cross during the Crucifixion of Jesus. The
coat of arms for Pope John Paul II is intended to be a homage to the central mystery of Christianity, that of Redemption.
It mainly represents a cross, whose form however does not correspond to any of the usual heraldry models. The reason for the
unusual shift of the vertical part of the cross is striking, if one considers the second object included in the Coat of Arms:
the large and majestic capital M, which recalls the presence of the Madonna under the Cross and Her exceptional participation
in Redemption. The Pontiff's intense devotion to the Holy Virgin is manifested in this manner."