Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Cross: Thirteen Views

1. Greek Cross-This cross is sometimes referred to as the Patriarchal Cross and can be seen in early church art. The top cross-bar represents the plaque that was placed over the head of Jesus. The inscription said “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”.

2. Cross of Calvary-The three steps leading up to this cross represent the hill of calvary or faith, love, and hope.

3. Latin Cross-This is the best known symbol of the crucifixion of Christ and is recognized by Christians everywhere. When shown with an image of Christ, it is called a crucifix. If you take the shape of a true Latin cross and fold it you will create a cube. The cube is an ancient symbol of earthly authority.

4. Celtic Cross-these symbols that have become so popular today to decorate with date from the 7th century. In Ireland legend tells that it was Saint Patrick who first brought the cross to the pagan Irish. Today, some white nationalist and neo-facists groups have taken an altered version of the Celtic cross as a symbol for their movement.

5. Russian Orthodox-this cross is similar to the Greek Cross but it also has a cross bar near the bottom of the cross. The lower cross bar represents the footrest (suppendaneum) to which the feet of Jesus were nailed. In the Greek Church this cross bar is straight, but in later Russian tradition the cross bar is slanted. From Wikipedia: One tradition says that this comes from the idea that as Jesus took his last breath, the bar his feet were nailed to broke, thus slanting to the side. It is also said that the slanted bar represents the repentant thief and the unrepentant thief that were crucified with Christ, the one to Jesus' right hand repenting and rising to be with God, and one on his left falling to Hell and separation from God. In this manner it also reminds the viewer of the Last Judgement. Another explanation of the slanted crossbar would suggest the Cross Saltire, as tradition holds that the Apostle St. Andrew introduced Christianity to lands north of the Black Sea: today's Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine.

6. Papal Cross- This cross has three horizontal bars near the top, in diminishing order or length as the top is approached. Since a two-barred cross is used to denote the ecclesiastical rank of a bishop it is assumed the three-barred cross represents the papal office.

7. Budded Cross- This cross is also known as the Apostle’s or Disciple’s Cross, the Treflee, Trefoil, Bontonee or Bottony Cross, or the Cathedral Cross. Basically it is a Latin Cross with three buds. The three-leafed clover end points remind Christians that faith, hope, and love as well as the Trinity. Some have used Number 17 to refer to the budded cross as well.

8. Inverted Cross or Cross of St. Peter-This cross is often used with two keys to symbolize the keys of heaven. When St. Peter was crucified he asked to be hung upside down because he felt he was unworthy to be crucified the same way Christ was. Some Catholics use this cross to symbolize unworthiness or humility.

9. Triumphant Cross with Orb-This cross is often seen in Christian art and it is a symbol representing Christ reign over the world. It is often seen atop a sceptor in Christ’s hand.

10. The Conqueor’s or Victor’s Cross-Notice the letters…….This is a Greek cross with the first and last letters of “Jesus” and “Christ” on top. The Greek word for conqueror is across the bottom. The lines over the top letters indicate they are abbreviations.

11. Baptismal Cross-This is also a Greek Cross superimposed on an “X” or the Greek letter Chi. It is a very old symbol from ancient Egypt and refers to the eight emanations of the manifested creation. Gnostics borrowed the symbol to represent the eight Aeons, and resurrection. In Catholicism it represents the age of baptism in the church (eight years) and the eight day interval between Christ’s entry into Jerusalem and his resurrection. Baptismal fonts are usually eight sided as well. Eight is also a symbol of regeneration.

12. St. Andrew’s cross-According to tradition Andrew, like Peter, felt himself unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as Jesus. His request was granted and he was put to death on an X-shaped cross. The symbol is part of the Scottish flag as St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland.

13. For all my/our interest in various crosses used throughout time the only one that matters…the one that deserves all our our focus….doesn’t exist anymore though some argue that slivers of it did survive over the last 2,000 or so years. The actual cross isn’t what is so important, but what happened on it is. The old hymn says it all: O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, has a wondrous attraction for me; for the dear Lamb of God left his glory above to bear it to dark Calvary. In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, a wondrous beauty I see, for ‘twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, to pardon and sanctify me.

I hope you enjoyed looking at all of the various crosses presented here. While these aren’t the only designs that have existed through the ages I thought they were the most interesting.

You can visit other 13’s here.


Allison Says said...

Interesting stuff! I didn't realize that the various crosses I have seen had such different stories to them. I just thought they were, well, different :)

Happy TT!

Peter Plum said...

I never knew all that about the cross-- or the reasons for the different additions. Thanks for sharing, and have a great TT!

Bubba said...

I love your list...but most importantly #13. The cross was merely a piece of wood, an instrument. But the sacrifice that Christ everything.

An old saying makes a little light of the cross. We've all known people, especially Christians, that are martyrs for no good reason. The saying: "hey, get off the cross! We need the wood!"

Thank you for sharing your list. God bless.

Val said...

Great post!! Very informative, especially the last one of course :)
God bless!

EHT said...

Thanks for visiting everyone!

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