Orthodox cross: types, the value of crossbars
The history of the appearance of the cross in Orthodoxy is very interesting. This ancient symbol was revered even before the emergence of Christianity and had a sacred significance. What does the Orthodox cross with crossbeams, what is its mystical and religious meaning?
Referring to historical sources to learn about all kinds of crosses and their differences.
The symbol of the cross is used in many world beliefs. Only 2000 years ago, it became a symbol of Christianity and acquired the meaning of a talisman. In the ancient world, we meet the symbol of the Egyptian cross with a loop, expressing the divine principle and principle of life.
Karl Gustav Jung attributes the appearance of the symbolism of the cross to primitive times when people used fire with two crossed sticks.
Early images of the cross can be found in a variety of forms: T, X, + or t. If the cross was depicted as equilateral, it symbolized 4 directions of the world, 4 natural elements or 4 Heavens of Zoroaster. Later, the cross began to be compared with the four seasons of the year.
However, all the meanings and types of crosses were somehow related to life, death and rebirth.
The mystical significance of the cross was at all times associated with the cosmic forces and their currents.
In the Middle Ages, the cross became strongly associated with the death and resurrection of Christ, and acquired Christian significance. An equilateral cross began to express the idea of divine presence, power and strength.
He was joined by an inverted cross as a symbol of denial of divine power and devotion to Satanism.
Cross of St. Lazarus
In the Orthodox tradition, the cross can be depicted in different ways: from crossed two lines to a complex combination of several crossbars with additional symbols. All types of Orthodox crosses have a single meaning and meaning — salvation.
The eight-pointed cross, which is also widespread in the countries of the eastern Mediterranean and eastern Europe, was especially popular. This eight-pointed symbol has a special name — the cross of St. Lazarus.
Often on this symbol depict the crucified Christ.
The eight-pointed Orthodox cross is depicted with two transverse crossbars at the top (top is shorter than the bottom) and the third is inclined. This crossbar carries the meaning of the foot: the Savior’s feet rest on it. The slope of the foot is always the same — the right side is higher than the left.
This has a certain symbolism: the right foot of Christ rests on the right side, which is higher than the left. According to Jesus, at the Last Judgment, the righteous will stand at his right hand, and sinners on the left.
That is, the right end of the crossbar symbolizes the path to heaven, and the left — the path to the hellish abode.
The small crossbar (upper) symbolizes the tablet above the head of Christ, which Pontius Pilate nailed. It was recorded in three languages: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.
This is the meaning of the cross with three crossbars in the Orthodox tradition.
There is another image of the eight-pointed Orthodox cross in the monastic tradition — the schema of the cross Calvary. He is depicted above the symbol of Calvary, on which the crucifixion took place. The symbol of Golgotha is represented by steps, and under them is a skull with bones.
On both sides of the cross, other attributes of the crucifix can be depicted — a cane, a spear and a sponge. All these attributes have a deep mystical meaning.
For example, a skull with bones symbolizes our ancestors, on which the sacrificial blood of the Savior was drained and washed from sins. This is how generations are connected — from Adam to Eve to the time of Christ.
It also symbolizes the connection of the Old Testament with the New.
A spear, a cane and a sponge are another symbol of the tragedy at Calvary. Roman warrior Longinus spear pierced the ribs of the Savior, from which flowed blood and water.
It symbolizes the birth of the church of Christ, like the birth of Eve from the side of Adam.
This symbol has two crossbars — top and bottom. The foot has a deep mystical meaning in Christianity, as it binds both covenants — the Old and the New.
The foot is mentioned by the prophet Isaiah (Is. 60, 13), the psalmist David in psalm No. 99, and you can also read about it in the book of Exodus (see: Exod. 30, 28).
The seven-pointed cross can be seen on the domes of Orthodox churches.
Seven-pointed Orthodox Cross — Image:
Cross six pointed
What does a six-pointed cross mean? In this symbol, the lower inclined crossbeam symbolizes the following: the raised end has the meaning of liberation through repentance, and the downward one means unrepentant sin.
This form of the cross was common in ancient times.
On the domes of churches you can see a cross with a crescent below. What does this church cross mean? Does it have a connection with Islam? The crescent was a symbol of the Byzantine state, from which the Orthodox faith came to us.
There are several different versions of the origin of this symbol.
- The crescent symbolizes the nursery in which the Savior was born in Bethlehem.
- The crescent symbolizes the cup in which the body of the Savior resided.
- The crescent symbolizes the sail under which the ship of the church sails into the kingdom of God.
Which version is correct is not known. We only know that the crescent was a symbol of the Byzantine state, and after its fall it became a symbol of the Ottoman Empire.
The difference of the Orthodox cross from the Catholic
With the attainment of the faith of their ancestors, many new Christians do not know the main differences between the Catholic cross and the Orthodox cross. We denote them:
- On the Orthodox cross is always more than one crossbar.
- In the Catholic eight-pointed cross all the crossbars are parallel to each other, and in the Orthodox the lower one is oblique.
- The face of the Savior on the Orthodox cross does not express torment.
- The legs of the Savior on the Orthodox cross are closed, on the Catholic are depicted one above the other.
The image of Christ on the catholic and orthodox cross draws special attention. In the Orthodox, we see the Savior, who granted humanity the path to eternal life.
On the Catholic cross depicts a dead man who has undergone terrible agony.
If you know these differences, easily determine the identity of the symbol of the Christian cross to a particular church.
Despite the diversity of forms and symbols of the cross, its strength lies not in the number of the ends or the crucifixion depicted on them, but in repentance and faith in salvation. Any cross carries a life-giving force.
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