Russian Orthodox cross

Cross of the Russian Orthodox Church 01.svg

Russian Orthodox cross
Russian cross.png

Greek cross.svg

Serbian cross.jpg

Russian Orthodox cross or Orthodox cross, is a variation of the Christian cross known from the 6th century in the Byzantine Empire. The cross has three horizontal crossbeams and the lower one is slanted. Nowadays it is a symbol of the Russian Orthodox Church[1][2][3] and a distinctive feature of the cultural landscape of Russia[4]. Other names: Byzantine, Russian, Slavonic or Suppedaneum cross.

It was introduced in the 6th century before the break between Catholic and Orthodox churches. It was used in Byzantine frescoes, arts and crafts. In 1551 during the canonical isolation of the Russian Orthodox Church the Grand Prince of Moscow Ivan the Terrible for the first time in history started to use this cross on the domes of churches[5]. In addition from this time it started to be depicted on Russian state coat of arms and military banners. In the second half of 19th century this cross was promoted by the government of Russian Empire in the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania as a part of Russification politics[6].

The Russian Orthodox cross of the Russian origin has only two horizontal crossbeams and the lower one is slanted[7]. Some Russian sources distinguish the Russian Orthodox cross and the Orthodox cross[8]. In Unicode the symbol (☦) is denoted as Orthodox cross[9]. The same USVA headstone emblem is called Russian Orthodox cross[10].


USVA Headstone Emblem 5 "Russian Orthodox cross"

According to many sources[1][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21] the name of the three beam slanted cross is Russian (Orthodox) cross (Russian: Русский православный крест[2][22][23][24][25][26][27]).

Sometimes it is also called Byzantine cross[17]. At the same time 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.

Sometimes it is also called just Orthodox cross[18]. At the same time the Orthodox churches use different crosses and any of them is called "Orthodox cross"[28]. Moreover, there are no such crosses like just "Orthodox" or "Catholic", each type of cross is a feature of local tradition[4].