Orthodox cross


The Orthodox, Byzantine [1] [2] [3][ need quotation to verify] or Russian (Orthodox) cross, [4] [5] also known as the Suppedaneum cross, [6] is a variation of the Christian cross, could be found in every Eastern Orthodox Church, as well as the Eastern Catholic Churches of the Byzantine Rite, and used widely by groups to connote the Byzantine Rite. The cross has three horizontal crossbeams—the top one represents the plate which in the older Greek tradition is inscribed with a phrase based on John's Gospel "The King of Glory", but in later images it represents INRI, and the bottom one, a footrest. In many depictions, the side to Christ's right is higher. This is because the footrest slants upward toward the penitent thief St. Dismas, who was (according to tradition[ citation needed]) crucified on Jesus' right, and downward toward impenitent thief Gestas. It is also a common perception that the foot-rest points up, toward Heaven, on Christ’s right hand-side, and downward, to Hades, on Christ’s left. One of the Orthodox Church’s Friday prayers clearly explains the meaning: "In the midst, between two thieves, was Your Cross found as the balance-beam of righteousness; For while one was led down to hell by the burden of his blaspheming, the other was lightened of his sins unto the knowledge of things divine, O Christ God glory to You."[ citation needed] Though commonly associated with the Russian Orthodox Church, this version is found also in the Greek and Serbian Orthodox churches, [7] although other varieties are also common, including those with a straight footstool and one slanted in the opposite direction. Common variations include the "Cross over Crescent" and the " Calvary cross". The Byzantine cross is also the name for a Latin cross with outwardly spreading ends. It was the most common cruciform in the Byzantine Empire. Other crosses ( patriarchal cross, Russian Orthodox cross, etc.) are sometimes misunderstood as "Byzantine cross" when they are from the Byzantine culture.

Russian variations

Calvary Cross
Cross over Crescent variation of the Orthodox Cross at the Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral

One variation of the Orthodox Cross is the 'Cross over Crescent', which is sometimes accompanied by "Gabriel perched on the top of the Cross blowing his trumpet." [8] Didier Chaudet, in the academic journal China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly, writes that an "emblem of the Orthodox Church is a cross on top on a crescent. It is said that this symbol was devised by Ivan the Terrible, after the conquest of the city of Kazan, as a symbol of the victory of Christianity over Islam through his soldiers"; the Orthodox World Encyclopaedia concurs with this view. [9] [10] [11] However, B.A. Uspensky offers another view, stating that in pre-Christian times, the 'Cross over Crescent' symbolized the sun and the moon, and that in the Christian Era, the cross is a symbol of Christ and the moon is a symbol of the Virgin Mary. [12]

In Russia, the top crossbeam can be absent; however, in the Russian North it can be attached on top of the vertical beam. [13]

A variation is a monastic "Calvary Cross", in which the cross is situated atop the hill of Calvary, its slopes symbolized by steps. To the viewer's left is the Holy Lance, with which Jesus was wounded in his side, and to the right, a pole topped by a vinegared hyssop sponge. Under Calvary are Adam's skull and bones; [2] the right-arm bone is usually above the left one, and believers fold their arms across their chests in this way during Orthodox communion. Around the cross are abbreviations in Church Slavonic. This type of cross is usually embroidered on a schema-monk's robe.

Between 1577–1625, the Russian Orthodox Cross was depicted between the heads of a double-headed eagle in the coat of arms of Russia. It was drawn on military banners until the end of the 17th century. [14]