Golgotha Cross: photo, meaning of inscriptions
In the Christian religion, the image of the cross hasprofound philosophical and moral significance. He became the symbol of the great redemptive sacrifice brought by God in delivering people from eternal death, which was the consequence of the original sin committed by our ancestors - Adam and Eve. His images are very diverse, and each has a special semantic nuance. One of them, namely the Golgotha Cross, is the topic of this article.
Cross - a picture of a great event
Its outlines are familiar to everyone who somehow or othermet with Orthodox symbols, and you can see them on the vestments of monks, objects of church utensils, as well as in the attributes associated with the consecration of dwellings and transport. The Calvary Cross is a stylized picture of an event that took place more than two thousand years ago in Palestine, radically changing the whole course of world history.
His composition includes images of the Cross -the tools of the torment of our Savior Jesus Christ, the mountain of Calvary, on top of which this event took place, Adam's head resting in its bowels, traditionally depicted at the foot of the Cross. In addition, it includes inscriptions that have both an explanatory and a purely sacred character.
Radiance in the Roman sky
The center of the composition is the Cross itself. It is known that his image as a magic symbol and even as an image of a deity was also encountered by representatives of the most ancient, pre-Christian cultures. Only in the Roman Empire it turned into an instrument of a shameful and painful execution, to which, mainly, slaves and especially dangerous criminals were subjected. His symbols appeared on the walls of the catacombs, where in the II and III centuries the first Christians performed secret divine services. They were images of the palm branch, the whip and the abbreviation of the name of Christ.
In the usual, "unencrypted form", the Cross for the first timeappeared in the IV century, when Christianity received in Rome the status of state religion. According to the Sacred Tradition, the Emperor Constantine in the night vision was the Savior and ordered to decorate with the image of the Cross the banner under which his army was preparing to engage in battle with the enemy. In the morning in the sky over Rome there appeared a radiance in the form of a cross, which dispelled his last doubts. Having fulfilled the command of Jesus Christ, Constantine soon defeated the enemies.
Three memorable crosses
The Roman historian Eusebius Pamphil describes thisa banner with the image of the Cross in the form of a spear with a crossbeam and an inscription from the top of the letter abbreviation of the name of Jesus Christ. Undoubtedly, the Golgotha Cross, a photo of which is presented in the article, was the result of subsequent modifications of the symbol that adorned the battle flag of the Roman emperor.
After the victory won by Constantine, in a signgratitude to the Savior, he ordered to establish three commemorative Crosses and put on them the inscription "Jesus Christ the victor". In Greek it looks like this: IC.XP.NIKA. The same inscription, but in Slavic, contains all the Orthodox Golgotha Crosses.
In 313 a great event happened: on the basis of the Milan Edict, adopted on the initiative of the Emperor Constantine, the freedom of religion was established in the Roman Empire. Christianity after three centuries of persecution received, finally, the official state status, and its symbolism was given a powerful impetus for further development.
Basic Elements of the Cross
Despite the fact that the main Christian symbolhas different inscriptions, Orthodox Golgotha Crosses are usually represented as three-part, that is, eight-pointed. They are a combination of a vertical column and a large crossbar, located, as a rule, at a level that is two-thirds of their height. This, in fact, is the very instrument of torture, on which the Savior was crucified.
Above the big horizontal crossbara small parallel to it is depicted, symbolizing the tablet, nailed to the cross before execution. On it were the words written by Pontius Pilate himself: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews". These same words, but in the Slavic inscription, contain all the Orthodox Calvary Crosses.
The symbolic measure of sinfulness
At the bottom of the vertical column is placedA small inclined crossbar - a symbolic footstep, strengthened after the Savior was nailed to the Cross. The Golgotha Cross, like all other Orthodox crosses, is depicted with a crossbar, whose right edge is above the left.
This tradition goes back to the biblical text,narrating that on both sides of the Savior two robbers were crucified, and the one on the right, repented, had found life eternal, and the one on the left blasphemed the Lord and condemned himself to eternal death. Thus, the inclined crossbar plays the role of a symbolic measure of human sinfulness.
The symbol of the place of execution
The Calvary Cross is always depicted in a certaina pedestal embodying Mount Calvary, whose name translates from Hebrew as a "skull". This served as the basis for another name, mentioned in the Slavonic and Russian translations of the Gospel, "The place of execution". It is known that in ancient times it served as the place of execution of especially dangerous criminals. There is evidence that the mountain consisting of gray limestone really looked like a skull.
As a rule, Calvary is depicted in severalvariants. It can be a hemisphere, as well as a pyramid with smooth or stepped edges. In the latter case, these steps are called "steps of spiritual ascent", and each of them has a certain name: the lower one is Vera, the middle one is Love, the higher one is Charity. On both sides of the mountain, on which the Calvary Cross is depicted, two letters are placed - "GG", which means "Mount Calvary." Their inscription is mandatory.
Cane, spear and skull
In addition to all of the above, the Golgotha Cross,whose importance, first of all, in the personification of the sacrifice and redemption of mankind through the sufferings of Christ, is usually depicted with the attributes of the executioners mentioned in the Gospel. It is a cane, at the end of which is a sponge with vinegar, and a spear pierced the body of the Savior. They are usually marked with the appropriate letters - "T" and "K".
An important place in the overall composition is occupied by the skull,pictured inside Calvary. This is the symbolic head of the forefather of our Adam, as evidenced by the letters "G" and "A" inscribed near her. It is believed that the sacrificial blood of Christ, penetrating the thickness of the mountain, washed it from original sin. As to how the head of Adam was in the bowels of this mountain, there are several versions. One of them claims that the body of the ancestor was brought here by angels, according to another, he was buried there by the descendant of Adam Seth, and according to the most common version, the body brought the waters of the World Flood.
According to the established tradition, there are otherThe symbolic inscriptions accompanying the Golgotha Cross. The meaning of the inscriptions (performed always in Slavonic) fully corresponds with the gospel story about the passions of the Lord. In the upper part of the cross, the "Son of God" is usually written. In some cases, it replaces the inscription "King of Glory". Above the large horizontal bar there is an inscription "IC XP" - "Jesus Christ", and below, as already mentioned, "NIKA" - "Victory". The place of the accomplished event and its main result are indicated by the letters "ML" - "Frontal Place", and "RB" - "Paradise be."
A Particle of God's Grace
Schematic depiction of the place of the crucifixion of Christ -The Golgotha Cross, nativity, intimacy and the throne - firmly became one of the most revered Orthodox symbols. Today it is not only an attribute of monastic asceticism, but also a shrine carefully preserved by pious laity.
Most Russians, sometimes even those of them,who do not regard themselves as believers, adhere, nevertheless, to old traditions and wear the symbols of Christianity on their chests, including the Calvary Cross. Whether it was silver, gold, or it was made of other metals, consecrated in the church of Christ, it always carries in itself a particle of Divine Grace, so necessary in the life of each of us.