I learned two things about the Crucifix last week that I probably should have know, but didn't.
The first, I kinda knew, but never took the time to learn the detail. I always knew the sign posted above Jesus read INRI and stood for Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. But I never really understood how those letters stood for that phrase. Turns out there was no "J" in Latin, and the letter "I" was often used in its place. So the phrase in Latin is Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm.
The second, embarrassingly enough, I never even thought about. In some crucifixes and paintings, Jesus' head is tilted straight down on the crucifix. In most, however, it is tilted down (or up) but slightly to the right. Why the difference?
A person that was crucified would have likely died from asphyxiation, and thus, their head would have slumped straight down. So, crucifixes that show Jesus' head in that pose are attempting to be more realistic in their depiction.
Those that show His head tilted slightly down (or up) and to the right are taking some artistic liberties. The right hand, in Christian faith, is the hand of blessing. Since Jesus chose to sacrifice Himself for our sins, He, in turn, gave us the ultimate blessing. This is why His head faces right in some crucifixes - to show that His death is a blessing for all of us.
Since my "lesson" last week, I did a little more research and found two other explanations for the right-leaning head tilt. One stated that Jesus was facing the good thief, whom He saved before dying. The other said it was to reinforce that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father.
I've looked at crucifixes of our Savior thousands of times. Who knew I still had so much to learn about them?