Never heard of a Trestella Cross before?
Tre comes from the Latin tredecim, which means 'thirteen', stella is Latin for 'star', and 'Trestella Cross' is just a name we've made up for the 13-pointed star and cross on this page. But we did not make up the meaning of this symbol.
The religious meaning of the cross is well understood. But what significance does the star have, and particularly a star with 13 points. Isn't 13 supposed to be unlucky?
Countless movies and novels have capitalised on the nightmarish nature of the number 13.
We all seem quite comfortable with 12. The zodiac is based on 12 constellations and we have 12 complete lunar months in the year; the 13th month being pathetically short in comparison, giving this poor number not only a lower class status but also something rather sinister.
Consider XIII, for example; the tarot card for Death. Friday 13th is feared in many cultures and the 13th room is often renumbered in hotel corridors (but it is still the 13th room).
Paradoxically, odd can sometimes be more balanced than even.
An asymmetrical pattern, such as the 13-pointed star shown above, happens to be an ideal engineering template for certain applications. For the wheelwright, an odd number of spokes mean the top and bottom of the wheel are not diametrically opposed.
Odd numbered fan blades, ball bearings, etc., are less likely to set up harmonics. Usually gear teeth have an odd number of teeth and jet engines minimize aerodynamically induced resonances by having a prime number of blades on disks, and a prime number of vanes on their corresponding stators.
Spinning away from engineering towards religion, we note that Judaism considers 13 favourably. The Torah explains that God has 13 Attributes of Mercy, which are referred to by the circles in the Kabbalistic Metatron's Cube. In fact there are no Biblical references to suggest that 13 is bad or unlucky; quite the contrary.
Thirteen at the Last Supper
13-spoke wheel of the Council of Baptist Churches in North East India
(Click image to enlarge)
13-flute Compostelan Shell of the Methodist Church in Kenya
(Click image to enlarge)
We all know that there were twelve Apostles, but let's review what happened after the betrayal by Judas Iscariot. Acts 1:15-26 says that Judas "fell by transgression ... from this ministry and apostleship". The office of apostleship was filled by both Matthias and Paul. There were still twelve apostles figuratively but thirteen literally.
Similarly with the tribes of Israel, which began with twelve. Later, the tribe belonging to Joseph were split into two tribes and named after Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Mansseh. So there were physically thirteen tribes but still referred to figuratively as the "Twelve Tribes".
The thirteen points on the star of the Trestella Cross remind us of the "Not The Last Supper". It reminds us of the future meal promised by the exalted Christ in his heavenly kingdom.
"There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know." said Donald Rumsfeld at a Defense Department Briefing on February 12, 2002, helping to convince the world of the necessity to invade Iraq. One thing Rumsfeld didn't know was how to correctly pronounce "Iraq", yet he believed he knew enough about the country to change it.