Wall Hanging Byzantine Cross
Eastern Orthodox Style Wall Hanging Cross
This beautiful wall hanging Byzantine Cross shows Christ dressed in a loin
cloth, with head sunk down, body bowed and blood flowing from his
wounds. The skull below him on the hill is that of Adam. The towers of
Jerusalem rise in the background. At the top of the wall hanging Byzantine
Cross we see the Sudarion Cloth of Vernicle. The Sudarion refers to the miraculous
transference of Christ’s image onto a piece of cloth which he used to
wipe his face. Below the Sudarion we see the kneeling images of
Archangels Michael and Gabriel weeping for Christ. Crafted from cultured
marble, this wall hanging Byzantine Cross measures 15" high ad weighs
approximately 2 lbs.
History Of The Byzantine Cross
The Eastern Orthodox Cross (also known as Crux Orthodoxa, the
Byzantine cross, the Eastern cross, and the "Russian" cross) is a Latin
Cross with two additional cross beams, one at the top and one near the
bottom, in addition to the longer crossbeam. This cross is distinctively
different from other Christian crosses. The deep symbolism and the
tradition of icons was preserved from Byzantium through the Christian
Empire it created in Russia. (See also the heraldic Bezant Cross).
Byzantium was the capital of the Christian Byzantine Empire, later
renamed Constantinople and currently Istanbul.
The top beam of the Byzantine Cross, also seen on the Patriarchal cross, represents the plaque bearing Pontius Pilate's inscription "Jesus the Nazorean, King of the Jews" (see INRI). The Latin for such a plaque is titulus which gives the name for this form: Titulus Cross. The upper beam of the Byzantine Cross rarely has any inscription; it is just symbolic of a titulus. Instead, the cross is often embellished with the acronym IC XC NIKA. (See also ICXC Cross)
In most earlier representations the crossbar near the bottom of the Byzantine Cross is straight. In later Russian and other traditions, it came to be depicted as slanted, with the side to the viewer's left usually being higher. When first encountering this cross, one can be forgiven for thinking the Byzantine Cross is a Three-Dimensional Cross; its similarity with a key being a convenient reminder that the cross is the key to forgiveness. Three dimensions also reminds us of the Holy Trinity.
The lower beam of the Byzantine Cross represents a footrest (suppedaneum) and began appearing in Christian art in the 6th century. The purpose was to support the weight of the body. (Sometimes the victim would sit on a thin horn-like seat for the same reason.) Without such a device, the nails could tear through the flesh or the ropes could rip off the limbs. In effect, the seat or suppedaneum would prolong the agony of the victim. We do not know whether such a device existed on Jesus' cross.
It is also said that the slanted bar of the Byzantine Cross represents the repentant thief and the unrepentant thief that were crucified with Christ. With this, the slanted suppedaneum symbolizes a balance-scale showing the good thief, St. Dismas, having accepted Christ would ascend to heaven, while the thief who mocked Jesus would descend to hell. With this, the Byzantine Cross is a balance-scale of justice with the one to Jesus' right hand repenting and rising to be with God, and one on his left falling to Hell and separation from God. In this manner it also reminds the viewer of the Last Judgement.
Another tradition says that the slanted bar of the Byzantine Cross comes from the idea that as Jesus took his last breath, the bar his feet were nailed to broke, thus slanting to the side. Yet another explanation of the slanted crossbar on the Byzantine Cross would suggest the Cross Saltire, as tradition holds that the Apostle St. Andrew introduced Christianity to lands north of the Black Sea: today's Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine.
The slant is invariably shown high on the left and low on the right and when interpreted as the Slavic Cross, the lower beam is understood to be one arm of a superimposed St. Andrew's Cross. The Apostle St. Andrew was the first Christian missionary to Russia. The story goes that when Andrew preached in southern Russia, he used a large three-bar cross as a visual teaching aid. All three bars were parallel, and when relating the Passion he tilted the lower footrest to signify that those on the right side of Christ will rise up into heaven and those on the left will slide down into hell.