The crucifix in Legend of Zelda

Being a good church-going kid, I thought it was really awesome when, at six years old, I played The Legend of Zelda for the first time and saw a cross on Link's shield.

"Wow, he must be a Christian too!" The game never explicitly mentioned Christianity or anything religious, save for the word "magic" being thrown in front of different items and said cross, but when you're a six-year-old kid, you don't need a video game to spell things out for you: that's what your imagination was for.

Whatever game I played, I just imagined that my character was Christian. Heck I even got in trouble for this line of thinking once: While playing Super Mario Brothers 3, I asked my cousin Amelia if the goombas I just killed went to Hell (fair question). Amelia, who was probably about 11 years old, paused the game and said to me "dustin, Hell is a very bad place." I can't remember what else she droned on about, but she never really answered the question, probably just telling me not to joke around about Hell, which I wasn't doing.

The first two NES Legend of Zelda games had a lot more Christian references. The graveyards had crosses, and several web sites confirm that the magic book was called Bible in Japan. And in the second Zelda game, one of the items you had to collect was an actual cross that allowed you to see flying Moas (which kept you from dying). Of course, none of this means anything if you buy the Supreme Court's ridiculous notion that a cross is a secular symbol, but for me it meant that somehow I was playing Christian video games. And not the crappy Wisdom Tree ones either!

But as time went on, the cross disappeared from the series, with Link's shield getting replaced by a logo-less design in A Link to the Past, then getting the triforce/pseudo Islamic treatment in Ocarina of Time. In fact, http://hyrulianreligion.webs.com has a nice feature on all of the shields in the game's series,

So was I right to think that my 8-bit hero was Christian? If I had seen this image below, courtesy of http://www.zeldawiki.org/Symbols, when I was a kid, it would have blown my mind.

Apparently the pic is official Nintendo artwork, being shown in two Japanese strategy guides in Japan for A Link to the Past, according to the Web site (the U.S. guide from Nintendo does not feature the image). I know that later games injected an original fable about three goddesses creating the triforce, so it'd be hard to play the newer Zelda games and come away thinking Link was Christian.

Still, it's nice to know that the six-year-old version of me was on to something.


Miles Mariae September 2, 2010 at 4:33 PM  

I'm not sure the enemies necessarily have souls. They just die like animals. They don't seem to be moral agents that have choosen evil, they just attack you. This seems to be on the animal level in zelda 1 at least.

I did not know anything about Catholic Link. I have been playing through zelda 2 for some time, unfinished business from 18 years ago! Will be producing my take of its catholicity eventually on Catholic Video Gamers.

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