Although the cruciform appears only in the novel's first chapter, many characters are carrying with them some kind of object that symbolizes devotion and possible resurrection. Brawne Lamia has the Schrön loop holding Johnny's consciousness; Silenus, his manuscript. Sol Weintraub has his baby, Rachel. Het Masteen has that weirdo Möbius cube thing, and we have no idea what's in that. And they all have their stories, which can be cruciforms on their own—comforting but painful.
The cruciform though, is hands down the creepiest out of all these things, so let's talk about that one! It's a cross-shaped object "definitely organic, definitely alive, resembling soft coral. It was slightly warm to the touch" (1.554). Many Christians wear crosses around their necks, but the cruciform is a cross in your neck. It becomes a part of you, weaving tentacles through your body, what Father Duré describes as "a nightmare of nematodes" (1.584).
And a nightmare it is. It keeps the body close to a certain spot, the shrine where those who die are resurrected. Eternal life, but at what cost?
The cruciform is all the strange, scary parts of Christianity brought to life. It's a parasite; it's a painful prison. On the other hand, as Duré realizes, it also symbolizes the need for faith in a cruel world. It's comforting to know that something is protecting you that there is for sure life after death. Like the Bible, and Christianity itself, the cruciform has different interpretations: it giveth life, and it taketh away.
For more on the creepy role of religion in Hyperion, check out our "Themes" page. Don't worry; we won't make you wear the cruciform.