The Cross

The Cross has been an emblem of Christianity and a commemoration of the death of Christ since the reign of Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. Typically, when we think of the Cross, we imagine the simple t shaped structure on which Christ was crucified, yet there are hundreds of variations of this form, some of which have been adapted and developed by specific cultures, others of which have made their way into common architecture and objects, and some of which do not pertain to the Christian faith at all.

Perhaps the most common and representative variation is the Latin Cross, or crux immissa. The Latin Cross, which consists of two perpendicular lines, whose bottom segment is longer than the other three, is often used as the overarching symbolic representation of Christianity, and can be found in the architecture of many Christian Churches (those which follow the Latin Cross Plan), as well as in jewelry. However, this symbol is not exclusively Christian, as it is thought to have been used as a Pagan symbol centuries before it was adapted by Christians.

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A Crucifix is a cross with the figure of a crucified Jesus, called a ‘corpus,’ or potentially a sacrificial lamb, attached to it. Sometimes the Crucifix is referred to as the “Catholic Cross,” while its unadorned and simple relative, the Latin Cross, can be described as the “Protestant Cross.”

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The Traditional Russian Orthodox Cross is different from many other variations of the cross in that it has three intersecting bars rather than one. The top bar represents the title board which was hung above Christ’s head, the middle bar is where his hands were nailed, and the bottom bar is the footrest. As the name would suggest, this cross is used primarily in the branch of the Eastern Orthodox Church which emerged from Russia.

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Sources:

Editors of Encyclopaedia Btittannica. “Cross: Religious Symbol.” In

Encyclopedia Brittannica. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/144028/cross

“Cross Symbol.” Religion Facts: Christian Symbols. Accessed April 22, 2015.

http://www.religionfacts.com/symbols/cross.

“Latin Cross.” Seiyaku. Accessed April 22, 2015. http://www.seiyaku.com/

customs/crosses/latin.html.

“Crucifix.” Seiyaku. Accessed April 22, 2015. http://www.seiyaku.com/

customs/crosses/latin.html.

“An Explanation of the Russian Orthodox Three-Bar Cross.” Accessed April 22,

2015. http://www.saintelias.info/_pdfs/3barcross.pdf.

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