Byzantine Crosses

 

Byzantine Cross Information

 
Byzantine cross. Three Bar Cross. St. Andrew’s Cross. Greek cross. Eastern Cross. What do these names mean? What is the difference? With so many names for the Eastern crosses – many of them similar in style – it is easy to get confused about these different crosses. Here is a guide to help you understand the crosses found in the Eastern Christian (both Catholic and Orthodox) tradition:
 
 
Patriarchal Cross
 
Patriarchal CrossThis cross is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as "a cross, the shaft of which is intersected by two transverse beams, the upper one being the smaller." In this form, the cross is the same shape as a Latin cross, except rather than an attached scroll, the extra beam at the top would be the plaque where the inscription “INRI" which stands for "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” was placed. The word is sometimes used synonymously with ‘Byzantine Cross’ or ‘Three Bar Cross,’ though these terms are not completely accurate; a true patriarchal cross does not have a third cross bar. The Patriarchal Cross was also used as a political symbol in the 9th century in the Byzantine Empire, likely leading to the confusion between it and the three bar cross.
 
Three Bar Cross
 
This term describes a cross, similar to the Patriarchal Cross but with, as the name suggests, a third bar. It is also sometimes called a ‘Tri-Bar Cross’ or simply ‘Byzantine Cross’ or ‘Eastern Cross.’ The term may accurately describe other Eastern crosses that have other distinguishing features but still use the three bar design. Typically the third bar is lower, where the feet of the crucified would be. Crucifixion had been used as a form of execution prior to the incarnation and continued for some time after the crucifixion of Christ; different methods and styles of crosses had been used in different places. It is believed that the Three Bar Cross may have been the type of cross that Jesus was crucified on. This is largely based on a point in time during the Passion when the soldiers go to break Jesus’s legs and find that He has already died.
 
Three-bar Crosses have a third small board the crucified would rest their feet on to support their body weight. This served two purposes. First of all, it prolonged the suffering of the person being killed. Execution by crucifixion was intended to be humiliating as well as painful. It also may have served a somewhat practical purpose, from the point of view of the executioners. Since the body weight was supported, the chances of the body pulling free and slipping from the ropes, or nails from tearing through the hands completely were much less likely. Later, when the crucified were near death, the soldiers would break their legs; the positioning of the person being unable to support their body caused a pressure that would result in eventual asphyxiation, and death. The fact that soldiers went back to break the legs of Jesus indicates to many that Jesus would have been crucified on a three bar cross where he initially would have had a foot rest.
 
Of course, when they reach Jesus, they find that He is already dead. This detail is the foundation for the depiction of the Three Bar Cross with the bottom bar slanted. Tradition holds that at some point the bar slipped from its original positioning, which is what caused Jesus to die before the soldiers came to break His legs. Further, it is believed that the direction the bar slanted in holds significance; the side of the repentant criminal angles upward to indicate his salvation, the side of the bitter thief who mocked Jesus, angles downward and indicates that he was not saved. In art, the Three Bar Cross may be depicted with all three bars straight, as it would have been built, or with the bottom bar angled.
 
St. Andrew’s Cross and St. Olga’s Cross
 
St. Andrew Wall CrossThe Cross of St. Andrew the Apostle is sometimes used to describe a Three Bar Cross. This stems from his work spreading the teachings of Christ; many believed he would have used a replica of the cross in his ministry. However, the term more accurately refers to the cross upon which he himself was executed. Tradition holds that St. Andrew was not martyred on the Three Bar Cross, but on a crux decussate, which is an X-shaped cross.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

St. Olga Cross NecklaceSt. Olga, the first Christian queen of Ukraine/Rus is commonly depicted holding a Three Bar Cross. Since it is believed that St. Andrew traveled to Ukraine/Rus in his work spreading the gospel, and Olga later had a habit of carrying a Three Bar Cross as she attempted to convert her people, this connection may be part of the reason St. Andrew is associated with the particular cross. St. Olga’s Cross however is often more ornate; the cross connected to St. Olga is usually the Three Bar Cross affixed to or engraved on a more ornate Latin cross. The Latin cross has the letters IC (the first and last letters of ‘Jesus’) and XC (the first and last letters of ‘Christ’), and the word Nika, which means to conquer or be Victorious.

Greek Cross

Greek CrossThe Greek cross is shaped like a plus sign, with each bar of the same length. It can be plain or richly decorated, as in the various styles similar to Latin cross. Many Greek crosses are also illuminated or iconographic in style.

 

 

 
Eastern or Byzantine Cross
 
The term Eastern Cross seems to be less definite. It is used to denote any cross from Eastern Christianity, regardless of further distinctions. The term Byzantine Cross typically refers to the Three Bar Cross but is also used to describe crosses with only one crossbar (resembling a plus sign as in the Greek cross or a Latin cross) that are engraved or painted with specifically Byzantine symbols.
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Holy Trinity (Rublev) Icon Holy Trinity (Rublev) Icon
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This is a reproduction of Rublev's famous icon of the Holy Trinity. Color may vary for larger icons. This reproduction is mounted on a wood plank as is traditional for the Byzantine style. This is the most renowned icon of Russia:  St. Andrei Rublev's 15th c. icon of the Holy Trinity, Who revealed Themselves to Abraham in the form of three angels before the oak of Mamre.  …


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Olga Sterling Cross with Blue Enamel Inlay St. Olga Sterling Cross with Blue Enamel Inlay
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Item Number: 4827
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This 1in. X 3/4in. Sterling silver Byzantine-style cross has inlayed blue enamel and comes on an 18in. Sterling silver cable chain. The medal comes in a grey gift box. This item comes with a lifetime guarantee.  It it ever breaks or tarnishes just sent it back for repair or replacement. This guarantee takes precedence over our standard return policy.


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Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain
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A Handbook of Spiritual Counsel

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Nicodemos (1749-1809), a monk of Saint Athos dedicated to asceticism and learning, was one of the most influential Orthodox writers of the last two centuries. His Handbook, written during the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, shares an exalted vision of human nature, but a vision that proceeds from the truths of revelation as interpreted by the Greek Fathers, not Descartes.  Nicodemos of …


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Our Path Our Path
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A Popular Presentation of Byzantine
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Part Three in the series "A Popular Presentation of Byzantine Christianity" this short volume presents the basis of Christian living in our tradition, the path to deification, as illustrated in aspects of the Mysteries of Christian Initiation. Suggestions for personal prayer, fasting, almsgiving and hospitality in our life of repentance provide much food for thought and discussion.


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Voice From the Byzantine East A Voice From the Byzantine East
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A bold and prophetic work of ecumenical theology and ecclesiology, especially focused on the role of Eastern Catholics in the important work of Christian unity. Archbishop Zoghbys prophetic comments on uniatism show that the tension between Eastern ecclesiology and the Vatican, especially as affecting the institution of the patriarchate, have yet to be resolved. Author: Archbishop Elias …


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Sterling and Enamel Olga Cross Sterling and Enamel Olga Cross
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This beautiful Olga Cross is 1 1/4 in. long and 7/8 in. wide.  It has a blue enameled Byzantine Cross in the center and the cross is of sterling silver. The medal is on a lovely 24 in. stainless French Rope Chain. This item comes with a lifetime guarantee. If the medal breaks or cannot be polished just send it back for repair or replacement. This guarantee takes precedence over our …


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Gold Plated Brass St. Andrew Cross Gold Plated Brass St. Andrew Cross
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This 10in. St. Andrew Byzantine crucifix is made from 24Kt. gold plated brass.  Corpus is plated antique bronze and  measures 4in. tall.  Comes gift boxed. Made in the USA.


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Dear Seminarian Dear Seminarian
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On Becoming A Shepherd Of Souls
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“Dear seminarian, I have been praying for you with all my heart, for you may be one of our future priests, and priests are a miracle of God’s love for us. A man, through the sacrament of Ordination, becomes another Christ, with powers that go beyond human imagination...” It is doubtful that any woman has spoken more often to seminarians and future priests than Catherine …


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Credence Paten Credence Paten

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Credence Paten This elegant Byzantine Rite credence paten is gold plated and made in the USA.  Dimensions: Top Plate: Your choice of 6 in. or 7 in. diameter Height: 3 3/4 in. Base Diameter: 5 1/2 in.


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Abundance of Love Abundance of Love
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The Incarnation and Byzantine Tradition

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A reflection on the spirituality of the incarnation in the Byzantine tradition. Part One examines Eastern insights on the “first incarnation,” that taking flesh of the Word of God and the icon as the radiance of that incarnation. Part Two looks at the “second incarnation,” the divine presence in the elements of the Tradition: the Gospel, the Liturgy, and the ascetic …


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Brush with God A Brush with God
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An Icon Workbook

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With warmth and energy, this guide to painting icons describes icons' history and examines why they've been a spiritual tool for so many centuries. Novice and professional artists alike get to experiment with this ancient Christian devotional art.


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Gold Filled St. Olga Cross Pendant Gold Filled St. Olga Cross Pendant
1 1/4in. X 7/8in.

Item Number: 4873
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This 12KT. gold filled on sterling silver St. Olga cross pendant is a Byzantine-style cross measuring 1 1/4in. X 7/8in. and completed with a 24in. gold plated chain. This item comes with a lifetime guarantee. If the medal breaks or cannot be polished just send it back for repair or replacement. This guarantee takes precedence over our standard return policy.


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