justinian, justinian cross, byzantine, history

In the Spotlight: The Justinian Cross

The inspiration for Gallery Byzantium’s Justinian Cross design comes from a 6th century silver liturgical plate.  Although very similar in design, the Justinian Cross lapel pin design, on the other hand, is inspired by the reverse side of an 11th century anonymous Byzantine follis coin (pictured right).

Folles were bronze currency introduced in the late 3rd century. Starting in the 10th century, anonymous folles were struck instead of the earlier coins which depicted images of Emperors. The new folles depicted an image of Jesus on the obverse and on the reverse you would often find a jeweled cross with the abbreviated letters “ICXC NIKA,” which proclaims “Jesus Christ Conquers.” You can read more about the meaning behind “ICXC NIKA” and other prominent Christian symbols in our Secret Meanings: Symbols of Faith blog series (click here to view Part I).

Our Christ the King Medallion, which features the Justinian lapel pin design on the reverse, would be a modern example of a follis coin.


The Life of Emperor Justinian

Justinian mosaic. Photo by Petar Milošević, via Wikimedia Commons.

Emperor Justinian I ruled the Byzantine Empire 527 to 565 AD. His reign is characterized by his colossal efforts to strengthen the empire and return it to its former glory.

Alongside his wife, Empress Theodora, Justinian set forth an ambitious plan to build orphanages, churches, monasteries, and rebuild entire cities (which had been destroyed by earthquakes).   He is perhaps best-known for rebuilding the Hagia Sophia, which is today regarded as the crowning jewel of Byzantine architecture.

While Empress Theodora fought to give women equal rights and abolish human trafficking, Emperor Justinian “was genuinely concerned with promoting the well-being of his subjects by rooting out corruption and providing easily accessible justice.”

The reign of Justinian is considered to be the greatest of Byzantine history. He and his wife Empress Theodora have been canonized by the Eastern Orthodox Church and are celebrated on November 14th.

Justinian I – https://www.britannica.com/biography/Justinian-I


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