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Crosses and Crucifixes

cross, churches, altar, saint, crux, greek and crucifix

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CROSSES AND CRUCIFIXES. The cross as a symbol dates back to an unknown antiquity. It was recognized in all countries throughout the world at all times. Before the present era the Buddhists, Brahmans and Druids utilized the device. Seymour tells us: "The Druids considered that the long arm of the cross symbolized the way of life, the short arms the three conditions of the spirit world, equivalent to heaven, purgatory and hell.) With the ancient Egyptians the cross was a reverenced symbol. Their ankh (crux ansata or handled cross) represented life, and a per pendicular shaft with several arms at right angles (Nile cross) appears to have had some reference to fertility or crops. Five of their planet symbols (see illustration) were repre sented by a cross attached to a circle or part of a circle. Prescott says that when the first Europeans arrived in Mexico, to their surprise, they found "the cross, the sacred emblem of their own faith, raised as an object of worship in the temples of Anahuac.) To the Christian the cross and the crucifix represent the Savior, also his Faith, and the Church. Crosses, ac cording to their utilization, may be classified as: Ecclesiastical, heraldic and architectural.

In Ireland great monoliths beautifully carved into elaborate crosses are found. They date from the early Celtic Christian period and they are freely inscribed with Runic inscriptions— hence these crosses are vulgarly termed "Runic) crosses. A beautiful specimen of these monuments is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York city. In some of the religious orders, the official insignia consist of a cross; also with many orders of chivalry, with the military, as well as with some civil orders. Con stantine the Great adopted as his standard (labarum) the two first letters in the Greek word, Christ. This combination in many varied forms is known as the "Sacred or "Iabarum of In architecture the cross is a very favorite form for finials. It is found in stone, wood and iron, on gables, steeples, etc. Many very ful forms are to be seen on the older churches.

Ecclesiastical Crosses.—The principal forms of crosses used in the Catholic Church are: Crux immissa or capitata (t), or Latin cross.

The Greek (+) cross. Crux decussate (X), (so termed because it was the figure for the Latin decus, 10) or Saint Andrew's cross.

Crux commissa (T) or tau cross (its form is that of the Greek T, tau), dedicated to Saint Anthony. The earliest location of the Christian cross was crowning the ciborium (altar bald achin), where it is still in some Romanesque basilicas. At times it hung from the top of the ciborium; but with the omission, later, of the altar baldachin, the cross was placed in the centre of the altar (see ALTAR), or was dis played on the rear wall. In the Constantinople Council (680) the bleeding Lamb, heretofore figuring on the symbolic crucifix, was forbidden, and the dying Savior's image on the cross was ordered to take its place, thus originating the present form of crucifix to be displayed to the public.

Reliquary Crosses.— In the very early days of the aurch, already, relics of the saints were being enshrined. The different churches emu lated one another in obtaining relics of greater distinction than others, and in enshrining them in reliquaries each more elaborate and rich in gems and workmanship than the others. Noth ing was more natural than that the altar cross should itself become a container of holy relics.

Rood Crosses.— Between the nave and the choir of large churches, or between the nave and chancel of small churches, were lofts or beams since very early days. Codin (15th century), in his history of Constantinople, tells of a cross of gold which stood over the Jube of Saint Sophia s; it was enriched with precious stones and was provided with sconces for lights. Every jube or rood loft became embellished with its rich rood cross. Anastasius mentions (8th century) such a cross in the middle of the church of Saint Peter the Apostle, at Rome, made of pure silver weighing 72 pounds. Both the Greek and Latin churches all had such roods until quite recent times. In Flanders were many up to the period of the present war, notably one at Louvain. They were usually constructed of wood (carved oak, mostly). Facing the nave, the four ends of the crucifix contained emblems of the four Evangelists, enclosed in quarterf oils; toward the choir faced the four "doctors° Saints Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine and Gregory). At the foot of the cross are found the Blessed Lady and Saint John on pedestals. The entire structure was gilded and painted.

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