In the Spotlight: The Solider Cross

Russian Cross, soldier crossGallery Byzantium’s Soldier Cross was inspired by a Russian Orthodox cross reportedly given to troops by the Tsar of Russia.

This design incorporates the St. Andrew Cross.  Beside the cross, we see the letters IC XC for “Jesus Christ” is on the upper cross bar, “Sn Bzhii” for “Son of God” on the lower cross bar.

Originally a Byzantine cross, the three-bar cross was later adopted by the Russian Orthodox Church.  The topmost arm represents the inscription above the crucified Christ’s head – typically the Slavonic translation of “King of Glory” (as seen on our Soldier Cross).

The bottom arm (or foot plate) can be depicted as tilted or straight.  Tradition teaches that when the Apostle Andrew preached in southern Russia he placed a life-size three-bar cross at his side. While explaining the Last Judgement he tilted the foot plate to signify that those on the right side of Christ will go up into heaven and those on the left will go down into hell

At the base there is a skull with a G and an A on either side for “the skull of Adam”, and the letters MLRB for “the place of the skull has become Paradise”.  A macabre image typically used in association with piracy or danger, the skull’s image is not always connected to a given threat. When used within Christianity, the skull takes on a more sacred meaning, connecting mankind’s fall and eventual saving.

Traditionally, it is believed that Jesus was crucified at the same spot where Adam was buried – thus, we see the skull literally buried below the crucifix portrayed on a cross.  More symbolically, blood of Christ on the cross flows down onto the skull. This represents Christ’s sacrifice washing away the original sin of mankind (set into motion by Adam).

To the left of the cross is a spear, and the right a staff with a sponge.  The spear was used to stab the side of the crucified Christ, severing a major artery (and likely puncturing His heart), and spilling blood and water.  In His last moments, Christ was offered sour wine from a sponge –  “Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink” (Matthew 27:48)

On the reverse side of the cross is the Slavonic verse, “Let God Arise.”

Of Sponges and Spears –
Seiyaku: Skull and Crossbones –
Seiyaku: Eastern Orthodox Cross –
An Explanation of the Three-Bar Cross –
The Skull on the “Russian” Cross –
Different types of crosses –
Inscriptions of the Orthodox Cross –
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