Jansenism was a heresy that gained traction in the seventeenth century. Pope Clement XI officially condemned Jansenism in 1713 in an apostolic constitution. In his book 101 Surprising Facts About Church History, Fr. David Vincent Meconi, S.J., explains Jansenism as “a Catholic form of Calvinism” established by Bishop Cornelius Jansen of Ypres.
Like Calvinism, Jansenist theology maintained that humanity was depraved and God gave His grace only to the Elect. Additionally, Jansenists believed that Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross was only for the salvation of a select few, not for everyone on earth.
Jansenists crafted their own crucifix to show their belief that Christ only died for the Elect. Normally, Jesus’s arms are stretched out horizontally on the crucifix, showing how Christ welcomes all to receive His grace. The Jansenist crucifix, though, shows Jesus’s arms more vertically, signaling the idea that he only died for a few.
To learn more interesting facts about Church history and heresies the Church has fought, check out Fr. David Vincent Meconi’s 101 Surprising Facts About Church History.