The Orthodox, Byzantine or Russian (Orthodox) Cross is a variation of the Christian cross, commonly found in Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches of Byzantine rite. The cross has three horizontal crossbeams—the top represents the plate inscribed with INRI, and the bottom, a footrest. In the Russian Orthodox tradition, the lower beam is slanted: the side to Christ's right is usually higher. This is because the footrest slants upward toward penitent thief St. Dismas, who was crucified on Jesus' right, and downward toward impenitent thief Gestas. In the Greek and some other Orthodox Churches, the footrest remains straight, as in earlier representations.
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; 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.
Coat of arms of Russia from the seal of Fyodor I, 1589
A rider with the banner from an icon Blessed Be the Host of the King of Heaven (Church Militant), 1550s
A 17th century miniature of the Battle of Kulikovo (1380). A warrior bears a red banner with a cross
A copper cross typical for Old believers
A cross of a Russian Orthodox priest
Russian depiction in which the traditional INRI plank is instead marked with "ЦР҃Ь СЛ҃ВЫ", standing for "King of Glory"
Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery, the resting place of many eminent Russian émigrés.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Orthodox crosses.|
- "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.
- (Russian) 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. Moscow.