What does the cross in the Orthodox tradition mean?
The cross is a symbol of the Christian faith, however, different denominations have their own distinctive features in the image of the cross. What should be the pectoral cross in the Orthodox tradition, and how does it differ from the Catholic one? This will be discussed in the article, where we consider all variants of crosses and their differences.
I will also explain to you whether Orthodox Christians can wear Catholic crosses and give body crosses to each other.
The symbolism of the cross in Christianity
To understand what the symbol of the cross expresses, you need to turn to the right sources. In our country, most people adhere to the Orthodox faith, the traditions of which differ in many ways from the Catholic one.
At the Seventh Ecumenical Council (1054), there was a Great Schism of the Unified Church into two parts — Orthodoxy and Catholicism. The Christian world was divided between the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Pope.
However, the symbolism of the cross after the split has not changed, because the atoning sacrifice of Christ has not lost its meaning. The cross is an instrument of torture in ancient times.
The Savior suffered on him by taking the sins of the world upon himself. Therefore, a Christian puts on a cross to show his involvement in redemption in Eternal Life.
However, if before the passions of the Lord the cross was a symbol of shame, now it is a symbol of the victory of good over evil and the resurrection in eternity.
For many believers, the pectoral cross is a symbol of protection against evil forces, so they never part with it. However, do not confuse the Orthodox cross with a talisman or talisman: first of all, it expresses the creed and victory over ashes.
A person wearing a cross is willing to fulfill the covenants of God and belong to the Savior with all his soul.
The cross gained the symbol of faith after the emperor Constantine had a vision in a dream. Jesus appeared and ordered to depict the cross to protect against enemy troops.
Constantine ordered to engrave the crosses on the shields of all the warriors, and three crosses with the letters IC.XP.NIKA were erected in Constantinople. This meant the victory of the risen Savior over ashes and enemies.
Orthodox and Catholic cross
Consider the differences between these symbols. The canon of the image of the crucifix was founded on the Tula Cathedral back in 962. In the Orthodox faith, the substitute sacrifice of Jesus is voluntary, and therefore brings joy to Christians. On the Orthodox cross, the Lord does not die, but, as it were, spreads his arms to embrace all people.
Christ loves everyone and desires to give eternal life to everyone who will accept this gift.
On the Orthodox cross, we see God, not a man dying in the throes.
It is the Orthodox symbolism that reflects the dual nature of Jesus — the divine and human. His hands are turned to the people and open.
The whole figure of the Lord expresses reverent calm and dignity.
The crown of thorns, which can often be found on Catholic iconography and crosses, is absent in Orthodoxy. If the image of the crown is found, it is extremely rare.
The next difference of the Orthodox crucifixion from the Catholic is the crossbar over the head of Christ — it symbolizes the beaten tablet with the words “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews”. Also depicted is an additional crossbar, which is a support for the feet and symbolizes the robbers crucified next to Jesus: one repented and found eternal life, and the second blasphemed the god and executioners.
Further, the feet of Jesus on the Orthodox crucifix are nailed with two nails, and on the Catholic — with one.
To summarize the differences:
- Orthodox crucifix has a six-pointed or eight-pointed form, a Catholic — four-pointed;
- on the Orthodox symbol there is a crossbar for the image of a plate with the letters IHCI, on the Catholic instead of the crossbar there is a plate with the letters INRI;
- on the Orthodox symbol of Jesus’s feet were nailed with two nails, on the Catholic one — one;
- on the Orthodox symbol, the feet of the Savior are not crossed, as on a Catholic;
- the Catholic symbol depicts a person suffering from wounds; in the Orthodox, we see God opening the path to the eternal life.
Correct body crosses can be purchased at the Orthodox shop, moreover, they are already consecrated. When buying a crucifix elsewhere, pay attention to the following points:
- the symbols of other religions should not be present on the crucifixion;
- the image of Jesus should not be clearly humanized;
- hints of desecration of divine powers are not permissible.
What does the humanized image of Jesus mean? On Orthodox crucifixes, it is not customary to depict the suffering of Christ, because he made a voluntary sacrifice.
If you see a sagging figure and head thrown back, this is not an Orthodox cross. Image of the Savior should be as if on top of a crucifix, and not sag on the hands.
It is very important.
Catholics are so impressed with the torments depicted on the crucifixion of Christ, that some particularly sensitive believers have wounds on the legs and legs — stigmata.
On the Catholic crosses you can see the suffering expression on the person tortured by the death agony of a person, sometimes they depict bloody smudges on wounds. This is unacceptable in the Orthodox tradition.
Orthodox crosses can be without Christ crucified, as can Catholic ones. They may have a four-pointed form, which is also correct and permissible.
Some crosses are decorated with gems or engraved ornament.
Important in the pectoral dagger is its consecration in the church.
What can a crucifix be made of? It may be:
Gold symbolizes truth and impermanence. Silver personifies purity and chastity.
The tree symbolizes the Tree of Life.
You should also pay attention to the inscriptions on the cross. There can be engraved the words «ІС + ХС», which means Jesus Christ, or «Save and Save.»
Sometimes you can find the inscription «NIKA», which symbolizes the victory.
Can I wear a crucifix on top of my jacket? The name «underwear» itself indicates the place — on the body.
Only ministers of the church can wear crosses on top of their clothes, while congregations should hide symbolism under their clothes. If a believer puts on a cross for show, he can be possessed by pride.
Also, we should not forget that the Orthodox cross is not a decorative element of the image, so it should not be on display in people.
Answers on questions
Many are interested in whether it is possible for Orthodox believers to use a Catholic crucifix? It can be placed in the red corner of the room as a shrine.
But it is better to give such a cross to a Catholic friend. If you have a catholic cross without Christ crucified, you must sanctify it in the temple and use it.
Can a skull with bones be depicted on an Orthodox crucifix and what does it express? Yes, at the foot of Jesus on the Orthodox shrine sometimes depict a skull with bones.
It symbolizes the ashes of the first man Adam. Christ redeemed all sins on earth, beginning with the fall of Adam.
Is it possible to have a luxuriously decorated crucifix to the Orthodox? First of all, in the symbolism of the crucifixion, worship towards the Lord and the most holy should be felt.
If luxury overshadows the symbol of the shrine, such a cross is just an ornament or accessory.
Is it a gift to give a cross? In the Orthodox community, the cross is given by the godparents during the baptism of the baby.
This is considered a blessed tradition. Also, a gift can be made to a relative on the name day.
You can give a crucifix and just as a gift, if it was brought from holy places.
Crucifixion can be inherited, it is also considered an Orthodox tradition. The opinion that the sufferings and trials of the donor are transmitted with the cross is not true.
To associate the symbolism of the cross with trials and difficulties in life is superstition. Crucifixion is a Christian shrine, and not a symbol of heavy burden.
A gift can awaken awareness to begin a godly life, so do not doubt the correctness of the gift made. In Russia, there was a tradition to exchange crosses as a sign of spiritual fraud or cronyism.
Guess today with the help of the tarot spread "Day map"!
For proper divination: focus on the subconscious and do not think about anything at least 1-2 minutes.