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Russian Orthodox cross

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Russian (Orthodox) cross
Russian cross.png

Russian cross

Byzantine cross
Orthodox cross.svg

Greek cross
Bulgarian Orthodox Cross.svg

Bulgarian cross
Coa Illustration Cross Orthodox.svg

Serbian cross

Russian (Orthodox) cross (Russian: Русский православный крест), also known as Orthodox or Byzantine or Suppedaneum cross, is a variation of the Christian cross, a symbol of the Russian Orthodox Church[1][2][3]. The cross has three horizontal crossbeams and the lower one is slanted.

According to some sources the Russian Orthodox cross has only two horizontal crossbeams and the lower one is slanted[4]. Some Russian sources distinguish the Russian Orthodox cross and the Orthodox cross[5]. In Unicode the symbol (☦) is denoted as Orthodox cross[6]

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 Byzantine frescos of churches, which now belong to Greek and Serbian Orthodox churches[7], although other varieties are also common, including slanted footstool in the opposite direction. Common variations include the "Cross over Crescent" and the "Calvary cross".


According to many sources[8][3][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][1][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][2][39][40] the name of the three beam slanted cross is Russian (Orthodox) cross (Russian: Русский православный крест). Sometimes it is also called just Orthodox 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.


Flag of RNU

The Russian (Orthodox) cross (☦) is traditionally widely used by Russian Orthodox Church. Now it's also widely used by Polish Orthodox Church and Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church, which received their autocephaly from Patriarch of Moscow in 1948 and 1951 respectively. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Serbian Orthodox Church sometimes also use this cross.

The Russian (Orthodox) cross is depicted on emblems of several Russian ultra-nationalist organizations such as Brotherhood of Russian Truth and Russian National Unity.


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."[41] 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.[42][43][44] 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.[45]

In Russia, the top crossbeam can be absent; however, in the Russian North it can be attached on top of the vertical beam.[46]

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;[47] 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.[48]


See also


  1. ^ a b Святейший Патриарх Московский и всея Руси Кирилл. Воздвижение Честного и Животворящего Креста Господня // Тихвинский листок №41, 27 Сентября 2017.
  2. ^ a b Фещин А. Довірся Хресту // Християнский голос. — 2002. — № 18 (2854). С. 232.
  3. ^ a b Liungman, Carl G. (2004). Symbols - Encyclopedia of Western Signs and Ideograms. Ionfox AB. p. 140. ISBN 978-91-972705-0-2. 
  4. ^ Рэлігія і царква на Беларусі: Энцыкл. даведнік — Мн.: БелЭн, 2001. С. 168.
  5. ^ "Православные кресты: как разобраться в значениях" [Orthodox crosses: how to understand the meanings] (in Russian). 30 September 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2018. 
  6. ^ Unicode Character 'ORTHODOX CROSS' (U+2626).
  7. ^ Gerstel, Sharon (2006). "An Alternate View of the Late Byzantine Sanctuary Screen," in Thresholds of the Sacred: Art Historical, Archaeological, Liturgical and Theological Views on Religious Screens, East and West, ed. S. Gerstel. pp. 146–47. 
  8. ^ Available Emblems of Belief for Placement on Government Headstones and Markers, Supreme Court of the United States
  9. ^ Thomas, Robert Murray (2007). Manitou and God: North-American Indian religions and Christian culture. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 121–122. ISBN 978-0-313-34779-5. 
  10. ^ Milo D. L. The Ankh: Key of Life. — Weiser Books, 2007. P. 13.
  11. ^ Mori J. Crosses of Many Cultures. — Harrisburg, 1998. P. 38.
  12. ^ Joseph L. Young. Mosaics: principles and practice. — Reinhold, 1963. P. 99.
  13. ^ Benker S. Liturgische Geräte, Kreuze und Reliquiare der christlichen Kirchen / Objets liturgiques, croix et reliquaires des eglises chretiennes. Walter de Gruyter, 2011. S. 68.
  14. ^ Etzold A., Türk W. Der Dorotheenstädtische Friedhof: die Begräbnisstätten an der Berliner Chausseestrasse. — Berlin: Ch. Links Verlag, 2002. P. 60.
  15. ^ Das Bildwörterbuch: Die Gegenstände und ihre Benennung. — Bibliographisches Institut, 2011. P. 283.
  16. ^ Eyth K., Meyer F.S. Die Dekorationsmalerai mit besonderer... — Leipzig, 1896. P. 317—318.
  17. ^ Bischoff E. Die Festdekoration in Wort und Bild. — Leipzig, 1897. P. 452, 462
  18. ^ Из проповеди Святейшего Патриарха Кирилла в праздник Воздвижения Честного и Животворящего Креста Господня После Божественной литургии в Успенском кафедральном соборе Астраханского кремля // Ахтубинские епархиальные ведомости. №7 (48), июль — октябрь 2017. С. 7.
  19. ^ Юсупов С.Э. Словарь терминов архитектуры. Фонд "Ленинградская Галерея", 1994. С. 185.
  20. ^ Королев К. Энциклопедия символов, знаков, эмблем. — Мидгард, 2005. С. 314.
  21. ^ Владимир А Лебедев. Державный орел России. Родина, 1995. С. 99.
  22. ^ Православный календарь на 2016 год. — Litres, 2017. С. 87
  23. ^ Русский крест: символика православного надглавного креста. — Москва, 2006. С. 147.
  24. ^ Архиепископ Афанасий (Мартос). Восьмиконечный русский крест // Миссионерский Листок. №144. — Свято-Троицкая Православная Миссия, 2003.
  25. ^ Архітэктура, выяўленчае і дэкаратыўна-прыкладное мастацтва: Дапаможнік для вучняў / Уклад. Б. А. Лазука. — Мн.: Беларусь, 2001.
  26. ^ Белы А. Крыж Еўфрасінні Полацкай // Наша Слова. № 29 (817) 1 жнiўня 2007 г.
  27. ^ Thomas R. M. Manitou and God: North-American Indian religions and Christian culture. — Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007. P. 121—122. ISBN 978-0-313-34779-5.
  28. ^ Koch R. The Book of Signs. — New York, 2000. P. 17
  29. ^ Becker U. The Continuum Encyclopedia of Symbols. — New York London, 2000. P. 71.
  30. ^ The Grove Encyclopedia of Medieval Art and Architecture, Volume 1. / Edit. Colum Hourihane. — OUP USA, 2012. P. 221.
  31. ^ Chwalkowski F. Symbols in Arts, Religion and Culture: The Soul of Nature. — Cambridge Cholars Publishing, 2016. P. 112
  32. ^ Православный календарь на 2016 год, 27 апреля
  33. ^ Гарошка Л. Баўгарскі ўдзел у пашырэньні хрысьціянства між усходніх славянаў // Божым Шляхам. № 1-6 (76-81), 1957. С. 27.
  34. ^ Сянкевіч В. Родная літаратура: 1 клас агульнаадукацыйнага ліцэя. — Беласток, 2013. С. 196.
  35. ^ Яременко В. Золоте Слово: Хрестоматія літератури України-Русі епохи Середньовіччя IX—XV століть. Книга перша. — Київ: Аконіт, 2002. С. 485.
  36. ^ Щербаківський В. Чи трираменний хрест із скісним підніжком – національний хрест України? // Визвольний шлях. — 1952, листопад. — Ч. 11 (62). С. 33—34.
  37. ^ Пекарська Л., Федорова Л. «Хто ми? Чиї ми діти? Хто були наші предки?» (до 140-річчя від дня народження і 60-річчя від дня смерті Вадима Щербаківського) // Краєзнавство. — 2016. — № 3—4. С. 232.
  38. ^ Кущинський А. Традиційні форми хреста // Українське козацтво. — №. 50. — 1978. С. 54.
  39. ^ Гнідець Р. Св. Хрест, його форма та різновиди в Україні // Греко-Католицька Традиція №9 (193), вересень 2013 р.
  40. ^ Сидоренко В. Забуті сторінки історії // Катедральні Дзвони. № 22. — 5 листопада 2017. С. 9. [1]
  41. ^ Stevens, Thomas (1891). Through Russia on a Mustang. Cassell. p. 248. Retrieved 28 March 2014. It seemed rather rough on Tartars, too, as showing scant consideration for the religious susceptibilities of a subject people, to find some of the domes of the Orthodox churches ornamented with devices proclaiming the triumph of the Cross over the Crescent. A favorite device is a Cross towering above a Crescent, with Gabriel perched on the top of the Cross blowing his trumpet. 
  42. ^ Chaudet, Didier (2009). "When the Bear Confronts the Crescent: Russia and the Jihadist Issue". China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly. Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program. 7 (2): 37–58. ISSN 1653-4212. It would be convenient to characterize the relationship between Russia and Islam by its history of conquest and tension. After all, the 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. 
  43. ^ "Russian Orthodox Church". Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. 17: 4. 1993. Finally, the Russians, under Ivan the Terrible, defeated the Tatars in 1552 and firmly established Russian rule. In celebration of this conquest, the czar built two churches in the Moscow Kremlin and on the spires of the Church installed the Orthodox Cross over an upside down crescent, the symbol of Islam. 
  44. ^ "Church Building and Its Services". Orthodox World. Retrieved 28 March 2014. Sometimes the bottoms of the Crosses found on Russian churches will be adorned with a crescent. In 1486, Tsar Ivan IV (the Terrible) conquered the city of Kazan which had been under the rule of Moslem Tatars, and in remembrance of this, he decreed that from henceforth the Islamic crescent be placed at the bottom of the Crosses to signify the victory of the Cross (Christianity) over the Crescent (Islam). 
  45. ^ Успенский, Б. А. (2006). Крест и круг: Из истории христианской символики (in Russian). М.: Языки славянских культур. pp. 225–258. Итак, сочетание креста и полумесяца целиком вписывается в космологическую, языческую по своему происхождению символику: крест и полумесяц символизируют солнце и луну. Вполне закономерно, что сочетание креста и полумесяца встречается на русских лунницах. 232 Но вместе с тем оба символа имеют и другой, христианский смысл: крест очевидным образом выступает как символ Христа, тогда как луна в христианской традиции символизирует Богородицу. Такое толкование прямо соответствует каноническим текстам — и поддерживается ими, — текстам, где Христос называется «Солнцем правды» или «Солнцем праведным» ( «sol justitiae» — Мал. IV,2) , а Богородица может ассоциироваться с апокалиптическим образом «жены, облеченной в солнце; под ногами ее луна, и на главе ее венец из двенадцати звезд» (Откр. XII, 1). 
  46. ^ Kuznetsov 1997.
  47. ^ McGuckin, John Anthony (2011). "Cross". In John Anthony McGuckin. The encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. 1. John Wiley and Sons. p. 170. ISBN 978-1-4051-8539-4. 
  48. ^ Shpakovsky, Viacheslav; Nicolle, David; McBride, Angus (2006). "Infantry and cavalry banners". Armies of Ivan the Terrible: Russian Troops 1505-1700. Osprey Publishing. p. 23. ISBN 978-1-84176-925-7. 

External links

  • "Explanation of the Three-Bar Cross". Church of the Nativity: Russian Orthodox Old Rite. Retrieved October 20, 2011. 
  • V. Rev. John Shandra. "The Skull on the 'Russian' Orthodox Cross". Retrieved October 20, 2011. 
  • Kuznetsov, V. P. [Кузнецов В. П.] (1997). History of the development of the cross's forms. Short course of Orthodox staurography [История развития формы креста. Краткий курс православной ставрографии] (in Russian). Moscow. 
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