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Cross and Crucifix
Cross and Crucifix, the.—For greater clearness and convenience the article under this general heading will be divided, to correspond as nearly as possible with three broad aspects of the subject, into three principal sections, each of which will again be divided into subsections, as follows:
I. ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE CROSS: (1) Primitive Cruciorm Signs; (2) The Cross as an Instrument of Punishment in the Ancient World; (3) The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ; (4) Gradual Development of the Cross in Christian Art; (5) Later Development of the Crucifix.
II. THE TRUE CROSS AND REPRESENTATIONS OF IT AS OBJECTS OF DEVOTION: (1) Growth of the Christian Cult; (2) Catholic Doctrine on the Veneration of the Cross; (3) Relics of the True Cross; (4) Principal Feasts of the Cross.
III. CROSS AND CRUCIFIX IN LITURGY: (1) Material Objects in Liturgical Use; (2) Liturgical Forms Connected with Them; (3) Festivals Commemorative of the Holy Cross; (4) Rite of the "Adoration"; (5) The Cross as a Manual Sign of Blessing; (6) Dedications of Churches, etc. to the Holy Cross; (7) The Cross in Religious Orders and in the Crusades; (8) The Cross outside of the Catholic Church.
I. PRIMITIVE CRUCIFORM SIGNS
The sign of the cross, represented in its simplest form by a crossing of two lines at right angles, greatly antedates, in both the East and the West, the introduction of Christianity. It goes back to a very remote period of human civilization. In fact, some have sought to attach to the widespread use of this sign, a real ethnographic importance. It is true that in the sign of the cross the decorative and geometrical concept, obtained by a juxtaposition of lines pleasing to the sight, is remarkably prominent; nevertheless, the cross was originally not a mere means or object of ornament, and from the earliest times had certainly another -- i.e. symbolico-religious -- significance. The primitive form of the cross seems to have been that of the so-called "gamma" cross (crux gammata), better known to Orientalists and students of prehistoric archæology by its Sanskrit name, swastika.
At successive periods this was modified, becoming curved at the extremities, or adding to them more complex lines or ornamental points, which latter also meet at the central intersection. The swastika is a sacred sign in India, and is very ancient and widespread throughout the East. It has a solemn meaning among both Brahmins and Buddhists, though the elder Burnouf ("Le lotus de la bonne loi, traduit du sanscrit", p. 625; Journ. Asiatic Soc. of Great Britain, VI, 454) believes it more common among the latter than among the former. It seems to have represented the apparatus used at one time by the fathers of the human race in kindling fire; and for this reason it was the symbol of living flame, of sacred fire, whose mother is Maia, the personification of productive power (Burnouf, La science des religions). It is also, according to Milani, a symbol of the sun (Bertrand, La religion des Gaulois, p. 159), and seems to denote its daily rotation. Others have seen in it the mystic representation of lightning or of the god of the tempest, and even the emblem of the Aryan pantheon and the primitive Aryan civilization. Emile Burnouf (op. cit., p. 625), taking the Sanskrit word literally, divided it into the particles su-asti-ka, equivalents of the Greek eu-estike. In this way, especially through the adverbial particle, it would mean "sign of benediction", or "of good omen" (svasti), also "of health" or "life". The particle ka seems to have been used in a causative sense (Burnouf, Dictionnaire sanscrit-français, 1866). The swastika sign was very widespread throughout the Orient, the seat of the oldest civilizations. The Buddhist inscriptions carved in certain caves of Western India are usually preceded or closed by this sacred sign (Thomas Edward, "The Indian Swastika", 1880; Philip Greg, "On the Meaning and Origin of the Fylfot and Swastika"). The celebrated excavations of Schliemann at Hissarlik on the site of ancient Troy brought to light numerous examples of the swastika: on spindle-racks, on a cube, sometimes attached to an animal, and even cut upon the womb of a female idol, a detail also noticeable on a small statue of the goddess Athis. The swastika sign is seen on Hittite monuments, e.g. on a cylinder ("The monuments of the Hittites" in "Transactions of the Soc. of Bibl. Archæology", VII, 2, p. 259. For its presence on Galatian and Bithynian monuments, see Guillaume and Perrot, "Exploration archéologique de la Galatie et de la Bithynie", Atlas, Pl. IX). We find it also on the coins of Lycia and of Gaza in Palestine. In the Island of Cyprus it is found on earthenware vessels. It originally represents, as again at Athens and Mycenæ, a flying bird. In Greece we have specimens of it on urns and vases of Botia, on an Attic vase representing a Gorgon, on coins of Corinth (Raoul-Rochette, "Mém. de l'acad. des inscr.", XVI, pt. II, 302 sqq.; "Hercule assyrien", 377-380; Minervini in "Bull. arch. Napolit.", Ser. 2, II, 178-179), and in the treasury of Orchomenus. It seems to have been unknown in Assyria, in Phnicia, and in Egypt. In the West it is most frequently found in Etruria. It appears on a cinerary urn of Chiusi, and on the fibula found in the famous Etruscan tomb at Cere (Grifi, Mon. di Cere, Pl. VI, no. 1). There are many such emblems on the urns found at Capanna di Corneto, Bolsena, and Vetulonia; also in a Samnite tomb at Capua, where it appears in the centre of the tunic of the person there depicted (Minervini, Bull. arch. Napolit., ser. 2, Pl. II, 178-179) This sign is also found in Pompeian mosaics, on Italo-Grecian vases, on coins of Syracuse in Sicily (Raoul-Rochette, "Mém. de l'acad. des inscr." Pl. XVI, pt. II, 302 sqq.; Minervini, "Bull. arch. Nap.", ser. 2, Pl. II, p. 178-179); finally among the ancient Germans, on a rock-carving in Sweden, on a few Celtic stones in Scotland, and on a Celtic stone discovered in the County of Norfolk, England, and now in the British Museum. The swastika, appears in an epitaph on a pagan tombstone of Tebessa in Roman Africa (Annuaire de la Société de Constantine, 1858-59, 205, 87), on a mosaic of the ignispicium (Ennio Quirino Visconti, Opere varie, ed. Milan, I, 141, sqq.), and in a Greek votive inscription at Porto. In the last monument the swastika is imperfect in form, and resembles a Phnician letter. We shall explain below the value and symbolical meaning of this crux gammata when found on Christian monuments. But the swastika is not the only sign of this kind known to antiquity. Cruciform objects have been found in Assyria. The statutes of Kings Asurnazirpal and Sansirauman, now in the British Museum, have cruciform jewels about the neck (Layard, Monuments of Nineveh, II, pl. IV). Cruciform earrings were found by Father Delattre in Punic tombs at Carthage.
Another symbol which has been connected with the cross is the ansated cross (crux ansata) of the ancient Egyptians, wrongly called the "ansated key of the Nile". It often appears as a symbolic sign in the hands of the goddess Sekhet. From the earliest times also it appears among the hieroglyphic signs symbolic of life or of the living, and was transliterated into Greek as Anse (Ansa). But the meaning of this sign is very obscure (Da Morgan, Recherches sur les origines de l'Egypte, 1896-98); perhaps it was originally, like the swastika, an astronomical sign. The ansated cross is found on many and various monuments of Egypt (Prisse d'Avennes, L'art Egyptien, 404). In later times the Egyptian Christians (Copts), attracted by its form, and perhaps by its symbolism, adopted it as the emblem of the cross (Gayet, "Les monuments coptes du Musée de Boulaq" in "Mémoires de le mission française du Caire", VIII, fasc. III, 1889, p. 18, pl. XXXI-XXXII and LXX-LXXI), (For further information regarding the resemblance between the cross and the oldest symbolic signs see G. de Mortillet, "Le signe de la croix avant le christianisme", Paris, 1866; Letronne, "La croix ansée égyptienne" in "Mémoires de l'académie des inscriptions", XVI, pt. II, 1846, p. 236-84; L. Müller, "Ueber Sterne, Kreuze und Kränze als religiöse Symbole der alten Kulturvölker", Copenhagen, 1865; W. W. Blake, "The Cross, Ancient and Modern" New York, 1888; Ansault, "Mémoire sur le culte de la croix avant Jésus-Christ", Paris, 1891.) We may add that some have claimed to find the cross on Grecian monuments in the letter (chi), which, sometimes in conjunction with (rho), represented on coins the initial letters of the Greek word chrysoun, "gold", or other words indicative of the value of the coin, or the name of the coiner (Madden, "History of Jewish Coinage", London, 1864, 83-87; Eckhel, "Doctrina nummorum", VIII, 89; F. X. Kraus, "Real-Encyklopädie der christlichen Alterthümer", II, 224-225). We shall return, later on, to these letters.
In the bronze age we meet in different parts of Europe a more accurate representation of the cross, as conceived in Christian art, and in this shape it was soon widely diffused. This more precise characterization coincides with a corresponding general change in customs and beliefs. The cross is now met with, in various forms, on many objects: fibulas, cinctures, earthenware fragments, and on the bottom of drinking vessels. De Mortillet is of opinion that such use of the sign was not merely ornamental, but rather a symbol of consecration, especially in the case of objects pertaining to burial. In the proto-Etruscan cemetery of Golasecca every tomb has a vase with a cross engraved on it. True crosses of more or less artistic design have been found in Tiryns, at Mycenæ, in Crete, and on a fibula from Vulci. These pre-Christian figures of the cross have misled many writers to see in them types and symbols of the manner in which Jesus Christ was to expiate our sins. Such inferences are unwarranted, being contrary to the just rules of criticism and to the exact interpretation of ancient monuments.
II. THE CROSS AS AN INSTRUMENT OF PUNISHMENT IN THE ANCIENT WORLD
The crucifixion of living persons was not practised among the Hebrews; capital punishment among them consisted in being stoned to death, e.g. the protomartyr Stephen (Acts, vii, 57, 58). But when Palestine became Roman territory the cross was introduced as a form of punishment, more particularly for those who could not prove their Roman citizenship; later on it was reserved for thieves and malefactors (Josephus, Antiq., XX, vi, 2; Bell. Jud., II, xii, 6; XIV, 9; V, xi, 1). Though not infrequent in the East, it was but rarely that the Greeks made use of it. It is mentioned by Demosthenes (c. Mid.) and by Plato (Rep., II, 5; also Gorgias). The stake and the gibbet were more common, the criminal being suspended on them or bound to them, but not nailed. Certain Greeks who had befriended the Carthaginians were crucified near Motya by order of Dionysius of Syracuse (Diodor. Sic., XIV, 53). Both in Greece and in the East the cross was a customary punishment of brigands (Hermann, Grundsätze und Anwendung des Strafrechts, Göttingen, 1885, 83). It was at Rome, however, that from early republican times the cross was most frequently used as an instrument of punishment, and amid circumstances of great severity and even cruelty. It was particularly the punishment for slaves found guilty of any serious crime. Hence in two places (Pro Cluent., 66; I Philipp., ii), Cicero calls it simply "servile supplicium" the punishment of slaves -- more explicitly (In Verr., 66), "servitutis extremum summumque supplicium" -- the final and most terrible punishment of slaves. Hüschke, however (Die Multa), does not admit that it was originally a servile punishment. It was inflicted also, as Cicero tells us (XIII Phil., xii; Verr., V, xxvii), on provincials convicted of brigandage. It is certain, however, that it was absolutely forbidden to inflict this degrading and infamous punishment on a Roman citizen (Cic., Verr. Act., I, 5; II, 3, 5; III, 2, 24, 26; IV, 10 sqq.; V, 28, 52, 61, 66); moreover, an illegal application of this punishment would have constituted a violation of the leges sacratæ. Concerning a slave, the master might act in one of two ways; he might condemn the slave arbitrarily (Horace, Sat. iii; Juvenal, Sat. vi, 219), or he might turn him over to the triumvir capitalis, a magistrate whose duty it was to look after capital punishment.
The legal immunity of the Roman citizen was somewhat modified when the poorer citizens (humiliores) were declared subject to the punishment of the cross (Paul., "Sent.", V, xxii, 1; Sueton., "Galba", ix; Quintil., VIII, iv). The punishment of the cross was regularly inflicted for such grave crimes as highway robbery and piracy (Petron., lxxii; Flor., III, xix), for public accusation of his master by a slave (delatio domini), or for a vow made against his masters prosperity (de salute dominorum, see Capitolin., Pertinax, ix; Herodian, V, ii; Paul., "Sent.", V, xxi, 4), for sedition and tumult (Paul., Fr. xxxviii; Digest. "De Pnis", XLVIII, 19, and "Sent.", V, 221; Dion., V, 52; Josephus, "Antiq.", XIII, xxii, and "Bell. Jud.", II, iii), for false witness, in which case the guilty party was sometimes condemned to wild beasts (ad bestias, Paul., "Sent.", V, xxiii, 1), and on fugitive slaves, who who sometimes burned alive (Fr. xxxviii, S. 1; Digest. "De Pnis", XLVIII, xix). According to Roman custom, the penalty of crucifixion was always preceded by scourging (virgis cædere, Prud., "Enchirid.", xli, 1); after this preliminary punishment, the condemned person had to carry the cross, or at least the transverse beam of it, to the place of execution (Plut., "Tard. dei vind.", ix, "Artemid.", II, xli), exposed to the jibes and insults of the people (Joseph., "Antiq.", XIX, iii; Plaut., "Most.", I, 1, 52; Dion., VII, 69). On arrival at the place of execution the cross was uplifted (Cic., Verr., V, lxvi). Soon the sufferer, entirely naked, was bound to it with cords (Plin., "Hist. Nat.", XXVIII, iv; Auson., "Id.", VI, 60; Lucan, VI, 543, 547), indicated in Latin by the expressions agere, dare, ferre, or tollere in crucem. He was then, as Plautus tells us, fastened with four nails to the wood of the cross ("Lact.", IV, 13; Senec., "Vita beat.", 19; Tert., "Adv. Jud.", x; Justus Lipsius " De Cruce", II, vii; xli-ii). Finally, a placard called the titulus bearing the name of the condemned man and his sentence, was placed at the top of the cross (Euseb., "Hist. Eccl", V, 1; Suet., Caligula", xxxviii and "Domit." x; Matt., xxvii, 37; John, xix, 19). Slaves were crucified outside of Rome in a place called Sessorium, beyond the Esquiline Gate; their execution was entrusted to the carnifex servorum (Tacit., "Ann.", II, 32; XV, 60; XIV, 33; Plut., "Galba", ix; Plaut., "Pseudol.", 13, V, 98). Eventually this wretched locality became a forest of crosses (Loiseleur, Des peines), while the bodies of the victims were the pray of vultures and other rapacious birds (Horace, "Epod.", V, 99, and the scholia of Crusius; Plin., "Hist. Nat.", XXXVI, cvii). It often happened that the condemned man did not die of hunger or thirst, but lingered on the cross for several days (Isid., V, 27; Senec., Epist. ci). To shorten his punishment therefore, and lessen his terrible sufferings, his legs were were sometimes broken (crurifragium, crura frangere; Cic., XIII Philipp., xii). This custom, exceptional among the Romans, was common with the Jews. In this way it was possible to take down the corpse on the very evening of the execution (Tert., "Adv. Jud.", x; Isid., V, xxvii; Lactant., IV, xvi). Among the Romans, on the contrary, the corpse could not be taken down, unless such removal had been specially authorized in the sentence of death. The corpse might also be buried if the sentence permitted (Valer. Max., vi, 2; Senec., "Controv.", VIII, iv; Cic., "Tusc.", I, 43; Catull., cvi, 1; Horace, "Epod.", I, 16-48; Prudent., "Peristephanon", I, 65; Petron., lxi sqq.).
The punishment of the cross remained in force throughout the Roman Empire until the first half of the fourth century. In the early part of his reign Constantine continued to inflict the penalty of the cross (affigere patibulo) on slaves guilty of delatio domini, i.e. of denouncing their masters (Cod. Th. ad leg. Jul. magist.). Later on he abolished this infamous punishment, in memory and in honour of the Passion of Jesus Christ (Eus., "Hist. Eccl.", I, viii; Schol. Juvenal., XIV, 78; Niceph., VII, 46; Cassiod., "Hist. Trip.", I, 9; Codex Theod., IX, 5, 18). Thereafter, this punishment was very rarely inflicted (Eus., "Hist. Eccl.", IV, xxxv; Pacat., "Paneg.", xliv). Towards the fifth century the furca, or gibbet, was substituted for the cross (Pio Franchi de' Cavalieri, "Della forca sostituita alla croce" in "Nuovo bulletino di archeologia cristiana", 1907, nos. 1-3, 63 sqq.).
The penalty of the cross goes back probably to the arbor infelix, or unhappy tree, spoken of by Cicero (Pro, Rabir., iii sqq.) and by Livy, apropos of the condemnation of Horatius after the murder of his sister. According to Hüschke (Die Multa, 190) the magistrates known as duoviri perduellionis pronounced this penalty (cf. Liv., I, 266), styled also infelix lignem (Senec., Ep. ci; Plin., XVI, xxvi; XXIV, ix; Macrob., II, xvi). This primitive form of crucifixion on trees was long in use, as Justus Lipsius notes ("De cruce", I, ii, 5; Tert., "Apol.", VIII, xvi; and "Martyrol. Paphnut." 25 Sept.). Such a tree was known as a cross (crux). On an ancient vase we see Prometheus bound to a beam which serves the purpose of a cross. A somewhat different form is seen on an ancient cist at Præneste (Palestrina), upon which Andromeda is represented nude, and bound by the feet to an instrument of punishment like a military yoke -- i.e. two parallel, perpendicular stakes, surmounted by a transverse bar. Certain it is, at any rate, that the cross originally consisted of a simple vertical pole, sharpened at its upper end. Mæcenas (Seneca, Epist. xvii, 1, 10) calls it acuta crux; it could also be called crux simplex. To this upright pole a transverse bar was afterwards added to which the sufferer was fastened with nails or cords, and thus remained until he died, whence the expression cruci figere or affigere (Tac., "Ann.", XV, xliv; Potron., "Satyr.", iii) The cross, especially in the earlier times, was generally low. it was elevated only in exceptional cases, particularly whom it was desired to make the punishment more exemplary or when the crime was exceptionally serious. Suetonius (Galba, ix) tells us that Galba did this in the case of a certain criminal for whom he caused to be made a very high cross painted white -- "multo præter cætteras altiorem et dealbatam statui crucem jussit".
Lastly, we may note, in regard to the material form of the cross that somewhat different ideas prevailed in Greece and Italy. The cross, mentioned even in the Old Testament, is called in Hebrew, `êç, i.e. "wood", a word often translated crux by St. Jerome (Gen., xl, 19; Jos., viii, 29; Esther, v, 14; viii, 7; ix, 25). In Greek it is called , which Burnouf would derive from the Sanskrit stâvora. The word was however frequently used in a broad sense. Speaking of Promotheus nailad to Mount Caucasus, Lucian uses the substantive and the verbs and , the latter being derived from which also signifies a cross. In the same way the rock to which Andromeda was fastened is called crux, or cross. The Latin word crux was applied to the simple pole, and indicated directly the nature and purpose of this instrument, being derived from the verb crucio, "to torment", "to torture" (Isid., Or., V, xvii, 33; Forcellini, s. vv. Crucio, Crux). It is also to be noted that the word furca must have been at least partially equivalent to crux. In fact the identification of those two words is constant in the legal diction of Justinian (Fr. xxviii, 15; Fr, xxxviii, S. 2; Digest. "De pnis", xlviii, 19).
III. THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS CHRIST
Among the Romans the cross never had the symbolical meaning which it had in the ancient Orient; they regarded solely as a material instrument of punishment. There are in the Old Testament clear allusions to the Cross and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Thus the Greek lefter (tau or thau) appears in Ezechiel (ix, 4), according to St. Jerome and other Fathers, as a solemn symbol of the Cross of Christ -- "Mark Thau upon the foreheads of the men that sigh". The only other symbol of crucifixion indicated in the Old Testament is the brazen serpent in the Book of Numbers (xxi, 8-9). Christ Himself thus interpreted the passage: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up" (John, iii, 14). The Psalmist predicts the piercing of the hands and the feet (Ps. xxi. 17). This was a true prophecy, inasmuch as it could not be conceived from any custom then existing; the practice of nailing the condemned to a T-shaped cross being, as we have seen, at that time exclusively Western. The cross on which Jesus Christ was nailed was of the kind known as immissa, which means that the vertical trunk extended a certain height above the transverse beam; it was thus higher than the crosses of the two thieves, his crime being judged a graver one, according to St. John Chrysostom (Homil. v, c. i., on I Corinth.). The earliest Christian Fathers who speak of the Cross describe it as thus constructed. We gather as much from St. Matthew (xxvii, 37), where he tells us that the titulus, or inscription containing the cause of His death, was placed , "over", the head of Jesus Christ (cf. Luke, xxiii, 38; John, xix, 19). St. Irenæus (Adv. Haer., II, xxiv) says that the Cross had five extremities: two in its length, two in its breadth, and the fifth a projection (habitus) in the middle -- "Fines et summitates habet quinque, duas in longitudine, duas in latitudine, unam in medio". St. Augustine agrees with him: "Erat latitudo in qua porrectæ sunt manus longitudo a terrâ surgens, in quâ erat corpus infixum; altitudo ab illo divexo ligno sursum quod imminet" (Enarr. in Ps. ciii; Serm. i, 44) and in other passages quoted by Zöckler (Das Kreuz, 1875, pp. 430, 431).
Nonnus confirms the statement that Jesus Christ was crucified on a quadrilateral cross ( ). St. Irenæus, in the passage cited above says that the Cross had a fifth extremity, on which the Crucified One was seated. St. Justin calls it a horn, and compares it to the horn of a rhinoceros (Dialogus cum Tryphone, xci). Tertullian calls it sedilus excessus, a projecting seat, or shelf (Ad. Nat., I, xii). This little seat (equuleus) prevented the weight of the body from completely tearing the nail-pierced hands, and it helped to support the sufferer. It has never been indicated, however, in representations of the Crucifixion. On the Cross of Christ was placed the titulus, as to the wording of which the Four Evangelists do not agree. St. Matthew (xxvii, 37) gives, "This is Jesus the King of the Jews"; St. Mark (xv, 26) "The King of the Jews"; St. Luke (xxiii, 38), "This is the King of the Jews"; St. John, an eyewitness (xix, 19), "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews". In representations of the Crucifixion there often appears beneath the feet a wooden support (, suppedaneum); that it ever existed is very doubtful. The first express mention of it occurs in Gregory of Tours (De Gloriâ Martyrum, vi). St. Cyprian, Theodoret, and Rufinus hint at it.
A microscopic examination of the fragments of the Cross scattered through the world in the form of relics reveals the fact that it was made from a pine-tree (Rohault de Fleury, "Mémoire sur les instruments de la Passion", Paris, 1870, 63). According to an ancient, but somewhat dubious, tradition the Cross of Jesus Christ measured in length very nearly 189 inches (4.80 metres), from 90½ to 102½ inches (2.30 to 2.60 metres). As noted by the Evangelists, two thieves were crucified, one on either side of Christ. Their crosses must have resembled the one on which He suffered; in Christian art and tradition they generally appear lower (St. John Chrysostom, Hom. i, xxvi, on I Cor.; on Rom., v, 5). A large portion of the cross of the good thief (traditionally known as Dismas) is preserved at Rome in the altar of the Chapel of the Relics at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.
The historical narrative of the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, as found in the Four Gospels, agrees exactly with all we have set down above concerning this form of punishment. Jesus Christ was condemned for the crime of sedition and tumult, as were also some of the Apostles (Malalas, "Chronogr.", X, p. 256). His Crucifixion was preceded by the Scourging.
He then bore His Cross to the place of punishment. Finally the legs of Jesus would have been broken, according to the custom of Palestine, in order to permit of burial that very evening, had not the soldiers, on approaching Him, seen that He was already dead (John, xix, 32, 33). Besides, in ancient Christian art and tradition, the Crucifixion of Christ appears as done with four nails, not with three, according to the usage of the more recent Christian art (see below).
IV. GRADUAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE CROSS IN CHRISTIAN ART
Since by His holy sacrificial death upon the Cross Christ sanctified this former instrument of shame and ignominy, it must have very soon become in the eyes of the faithful a sacred symbol of the Passion, consequently a sign of protection and defence (St. Paulinus of Nola, "Carm. in Natal. S. Felicis", XI, 612; Prudent., "Adv. Symm.", I, 486). It is not, therefore, altogether strange or inconceivable that, from the beginning of the new religion, the cross should have appeared in Christian homes as an object of religious veneration, although no such monument of the earliest Christian art has been preserved. Early in the third century Clement of Alexandria ("Strom.", VI, in P. G., IX, 305) speaks of the Cross as tou Kyriakou semeiou typon, i.e. signum Christi, "the symbol of the Lord" (St. Augustine, Tract. cxvii, "In Joan."; De Rossi, "Bull. d'arch. crist", 1863, 35, and "De titulis christianis Carthaginiensibus" in Pitra, "Spicilegium Solesmense", IV, 503). The cross, therefore, appears at an early date as an element of the liturgical life of the faithful, and to such an extent that in the first half of the third century Tertullian could publicly designate the Christian body as "crucis religiosi", i.e. devotees of the Cross (Apol., c. xvi, P. G., I, 365-66). St. Gregory of Tours tells us (De Miraculis S. Martini, I, 80) that in his time Christians habitually had recourse to the sign of the cross. St. Augustine says that by the sign of the cross and the invocation of the Name of Jesus all things are sanctified and consecrated to God. In the earliest Christian life, as can be seen from the metaphorical language of the primitive faithful, the cross was the symbol of the principal Christian virtue, i.e. mortification or victory over the passions, and suffering for Christ's sake and in union with Him (Matt., x, 38; xvi, 24; Mark, viii, 34; Luke, ix, 23; xiv, 27; Gal., ii, 19; vi, 12, 14; v, 24). In the Epistles of St. Paul the cross is synonymous with the Passion of Christ (Ephes., ii, 16; Heb., xii, 2) even with the Gospel, and with religion itself (I Cor., i, 18; Phil., iii, 18). Very soon the sign of the cross was the sign of the Christian. It is, moreover, very probable that reference to this sign is made in the Apocalypse (vii, 2): "And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the sign of the living God."
It is from this original Christian worship of the cross that arose the custom of making on one's forehead the sign of the cross. Tertullian says: "Frontem crucis signaculo terimus" (De Cor. mil. iii), i.e. "We Christians wear out our foreheads with the sign of the cross." The practice was so general about the year 200, according to the same writer, that the Christians of his time were wont to sign themselves with the cross before undertaking any action. He says that it is not commanded in Holy Scripture, but is a matter of Christian tradition, like certain other practices that are confirmed by long usage and the spirit of faith in which they are kept. A certain Scriptural authority for the sign of the cross has been sought by some in a few texts rather freely interpreted, especially in the above-mentioned words of Ezechiel (ix, 4), "Mark Thau upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and mourn for all the abominations that are committed in the midst thereof", also in several expressions of the Apocalypse (vii, 3; ix, 4; xiv, 1). It would seem that in very early Christian times the sign of the cross was made with the thumb of the right hand (St. John Chrys., Hom. ad pop. Antioch. xi; St. Jerome, Ep. ad Eustochium; a practice still in use among the faithful during Mass, e.g. at the reading of the Gospel) and generally on the forehead; gradually, by reason of its symbolism, this sign was made on other parts of the body, with particularized intention (St. Ambrose, De Isaac et animâ, Migne, P. L., XIV, 501-34). Afterwards these different signs of the cross were united in one large sign such as we now make. In the Western Church the hand was carried from the left to the right shoulder; in the Eastern Church, on the contrary, it was brought from the right shoulder to the left, the sign being made with three fingers. This apparently slight difference was one of the (remote) causes of the fatal Eastern Schism.
It is probable, though we have no historical evidence for it, that the primitive Christians used the cross to distinguish one another from the pagans in ordinary social intercourse. The latter called the Christians "cross-worshippers", and ironically added, "id colunt quod merentur", i.e. they worship that which they deserve. The Christian apologists, such as Tertullian (Apol., xvi; Ad. Nationes, xii) and Minucius Felix (Octavius, lx, xii, xxviii), felicitously replied to the pagan taunt by showing that their persecutors themselves adored cruciform objects. Such observations throw light on a peculiar fact of primitive Christian life, i.e. the almost total absence from Christian monuments of the period of persecutions of the plain, unadorned cross (E. Reusens, "Eléments d'archéologie chrétienne" 1st ed., 110). The truculent sarcasms of the heathens prevented the faithful from openly displaying this sign of salvation. When the early Christians did represent the sign of the cross on their monuments, nearly all sepulchral in character, they felt obliged to disguise it in some artistic and symbolical way. One of the oldest of the symbols of the cross is the anchor. Originally a symbol of hope in general, the anchor takes on in this way a much higher meaning: that of hope based on the Cross of Christ. The similarity of the anchor to the cross made the former an admirable Christian symbol. Another cruciform symbol of the early Christians, though not very common and of a somewhat later date, is the trident, some examples of which are seen on sepulchral slabs in the cemetery of Callistus. In one inscription from that cemetery the symbolism of the trident is even more subtle and evident, the instrument standing erect as the mainmast of a ship entering port, symbolical of the Christian soul saved by the Cross of Christ. We must note, too, the use of this peculiar symbol in the third century in the region of Tauric Chersonesus (the Crimea) on coins of Totorses, King of the Bosporus, dated 270, 296, and 303 (De Hochne, "Déscription du musée Kotschonbey", II, 348, 360, 416; Cavedoni, "Appendice alle ricerche critiche intorno alle med. Costantiniane", 18, 19 -- an extract from the "Opuscoli litterari e religiosi di Modena" in "Bull. arch. Napolit.", ser. 2, anno VII, 32). We shall speak again of this sign apropos of the dolphin. On a picture in the Crypts of Lucina, artistically unique and very ancient, there seems to be an allusion to the Cross. Turned towards the altar are two doves gazing at a small tree. The scene appears to represent an image of souls loosed from the bonds of the body and saved by the power of the Cross (De Rossi, Roma Sotterranea Cristiana, I, PL. XII).
Before passing to the study of other, more or less disguised, forms of the cross, e.g. various monograms of the name of Christ, it may be well to say a word of various known forms of the cross on primitive monuments of Christian art, some of which we shall meet with in our early study of the said monograms. -- The crux decussata or decussated cross, so called from its resemblance to the Roman decussis or symbol for the numeral 10, is in shape like the Greek letter chi; it is also known as St. Andrew's Cross, because that Apostle is said to have suffered martyrdom on such cross, his hands and feet bound to its four arms (Sandini, Hist. Apostol., 130). The crux commissa, or gallows-shaped cross, is, according to some, the one on which Jesus Christ died. In order to explain the traditional longitudinal extension of the Cross, which makes it resemble the crux immissa, it is asserted that this extension is only apparent, and is really only the titulus crucis, the inscription mentioned in the Gospels. This form of the cross (crux commissa) is probably represented by the Greek letter tau (), and is identical with the "sign" mentioned in the text of Ezechiel (ix, 4) already quoted. Tertullian comments (Contra Marc., III, xxii) as follows on this text: "The Greek letter and our Latin letter T are the true form of the cross, which, according to the Prophet, will be imprinted on our foreheads in the true Jerusalem." Specimens of this veiled form of the cross are met with on the monuments of the Roman catacombs, a very fine one, e.g., in an epitaph of the third century found in the cemetery of St. Callistus, which reads IRE T NE (De Rossi, "Bulletino d'archeologia cristiana", 1863, 35). In the same cemetery a sarcophagus exhibits clearly the gallows-cross formed by the intersection of the letters T and V in the monogram of a proper name carved in the centre of the cartella, or label. This second letter (V) was also figurative of the cross, as is evident from the inscriptions scratched on rock-surfaces at Mount Sinai (Lenormant, "Sur l'origine chrétienne des inscriptions sinaïtiques", 26, 27; De Rossi, loc. cit.). A monogram of a proper name (perhaps Marturius), discovered by Armellini on the Via Latina, shows the crux commissa above the intersection of the letters. Other monograms show similar forms. (De Rossi, "Bulletino d'archeologia cristiana", 1867, page 13, fig. 10, and page 14). It had been attempted to establish a connection between this form and the crux ansata of the Egyptians, mentioned above; but we see no reason for this (cf. Letronne, Matériaux pour l'histoire du christianisme en Egypte, en Nubie, et en Abyssinie). It would seem that St. Anthony bore a cross in the form of tau on his cloak, and that it was Egyptian in origin. Such a cross is still used by the Antonine monks of Vienne in Dauphiny, and appear on their churches and on the monuments of art belonging to the order. St. Zeno of Verona, who in the second half of the fourth century was bishop of that city, relates that he caused a cross in form of a tau to be placed on the highest point of a basilica. There was also another motive for choosing the letter T as symbolical of the cross. As, in Greek, this letter stands for 300 that number in Apostolic times was taken as a symbol of the instrument of our salvation. The symbolism was carried farther, and the number 318 became a symbol of Christ and His Cross: the letter (iota) being equal to 10, and (eta) to 8 in Greek (Allard, "Le symbolisme chrétien d'après Prudence" in "Revue de l'art chrétien", 1885; Hefele, Ed. Ep. St. Barnabæ, ix).
The cross most commonly referred to and most usually depicted on Christian monuments of all ages is that called the crux immissa, or crux capitata (i.e. the vertical trunk extending beyond the transverse beam). It was on a cross such as this that Christ actually died, and not, as some would maintain, on a crux commissa. And this opinion is largely supported by the testimony of the writers we have quoted. The crux immissa is that which is usually known as the Latin cross, in which the transverse beam is usually set two-thirds of the way up the vertical. The equilateral, or Greek cross, adopted by the East and by Russia, has the transverse set half-way up the vertical.
Both the Latin and Greek crosses play an important part in the architectural and decorative styles of church buildings during the fourth and subsequent centuries. The church of Santa Croce at Ravenna, is in the form of a Latin cross; and on the pillars of a church built by Bishop Paulinus at Tyre in the fourth century the cross is carved in the Latin way. The façade of the Catholicon at Athens shows a large Latin cross. And this style of cross was adopted by West and East until the schism occurred between the two churches. Indeed, at Constantinople the church of the Apostles, the first church of S. Sophia, consecrated by Constantine, those of the monastery of St. John at Studium, of St. Demetrius at Salonica, of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai, as well as many churches at Athens, are in the form of the Latin cross; and it appears in the decorations of capitals, balustrades, and mosaics. In the far-off lands of the Picts, the Bretons, and the Saxons, it was carved on stones and rocks, with elaborate and complex Runic decorations. And even in the Catholicon at Athens, crosses no less lavishly ornamented are to be found. In out-of-the-way places in Scotland, too, it has been discovered (cf. Dictionnaire de 1'Académie des Beaux-Arts, V, 38).
The Greek cross appears at intervals and rarely on monuments during the early Christian centuries. The Crypts of Lucina, in the Catacomb of St. Callistus, yield an inscription which had been placed on a double grave or sepulchre, with the names ROUPHINA: EIRENE. Beneath this is seen the equilateral cross -- disguised image of the gibbet on which the Redeemer died (De Rossi, Rom. Scott.,I, p. 333, Pl. XVIII). It is to be found also painted into the mantle of Moses in a fresco from the Catacomb of St. Saturninus on the Via Salaria Nuova, (Perret, Cat. de Rome, III, Pl. VI). In later times it is to be seen in a mosaic of a church at Paris built in the days of King Childebert (Lenoir, Statistique monumentale de Paris) and carved on the pedestals of the columns in the basilica of Constantine in the Agro Verano; also on the roofs and pillars of churches, to denote their consecration. More often, as we might expect, we find it on the façades of the Byzantine basilicas and in their adornments, such as altars, iconastases, sacred curtains for the enclosure, thrones, ambones and sacerdotal vestments. When the Emperor Justinian erected the church of Santa Sophia at Constantinople, with the aid of the architects Artemius of Tralles, and Isidore of Miletus, a new architectural type was created which became the model for all churches subsequently built within the Byzantine Empire, and the Greek cross inscribed in a square thus became their typical ground-plan. Perhaps, too the church of the Twelve Apostles may have been built upon this plan, as a famous epigram of St. Gregory Nazianzen would seem to indicate. There are other forms of cross, such as the crux gammata, the crux florida, or flowering cross, the pectoral cross, and the patriarchal cross. But these are noteworthy rather for their various uses in art and liturgy than for any peculiarity of style.
The complete and characteristic form of Christ's monogram is obtained by the superposition of the two initial Greek letters, chi and rho, of the name CHRISTOS. This is inexactly called the Constantinian monogram, although it was in use before the days of Constantine. It gained this name, however, because in his day it came much into fashion, and derived a triumphal signification from the fact that the emperor placed it on his new standard, i.e. the Labarum (Marucchi, "Di una pregevole ed inedita inscrizione cristiana" in "Studi in Italia", anno VI, II, 1883). Older, but less complete, forms of this are made up of the crux decussata accompanied by a defective letter T, differing only slightly from the letter I, or encircled by a crown. These forms, which were used principally in the third century present a striking resemblance to a cross, but all of them are manifest allusions or symbols.
Another symbol largely employed during the third and fourth centuries, the swastika already spoken of at some length, still more closely resembles the cross. On monuments dating within the Christian Era it is known as the crux gammata, because it is made by joining four gammas at their bases. Many fantastic significations have been attached to the use of this sign on Christian monuments, and some have even gone so far as to conclude from it that Christianity is nothing but a descendant of the ancient religions and myths of the people of India, Persia, and Asia generally; then these theorists go on to point out the close relationship that exists between Christianity, on the one hand, Buddhism and other Oriental religions, on the other. At the very least they insist upon seeing some relation between the symbolical concepts of the ancient religions and those of Christianity. Such was the opinion held by Emile Burnouf (cf. Revue des Deux Mondes, 15 August, 1868, p. 874). De Rossi ably refuted this opinion, and showed the real value of this symbol on Christian monuments (Bull. d' arch. crist., 1868, 88-91). It is fairly common on the Christian monuments of Rome, being found on some sepulchral inscriptions, besides occurring twice, painted, on the Good Shepherd's tunic in an arcosolium in the Catacomb of St. Generosa in the Via Portuensis, and again on the tunic of the fossor Diogenes (the original epitaph is no longer extant. In the catacomb of St. Domitilla in the Via Ardeatina. Outside of Rome it is less frequent. There is one example in an inscription found at Chiusi (see Cavedoni, Ragguaglio di due antichi cimiteri di Chiusi). A stone in the museum at Bergamo bears the monogram joined to the gamma cross, but it would seem to be of Roman origin. Another in the Mannheim Museum, with the name of a certain Hugdulfus, belongs to the fifth or sixth century. In a sarcophagus at Milan belonging to the fourth century it is repeated over and over again, but evidently as a mere ornamental motive (see Allegranza, Mon. di Milano, 74).
De Rossi (Rom. Sott. Crist., II, 318) made researches into the chronology of this symbol, and the examples of it to be found in the catacombs at Rome, and he observed that it was seldom or never used until it took the place of the anchor, i.e. about the first half of the third century, whence he inferred that, not being of ancient tradition, it came into fashion as the result of studied choice rather than as a primitive symbol linking the beginnings of Christianity with Asiatic traditions. Its genesis is reflex and studied, not primitive and spontaneous. It is well known how anxiously the early Christians sought out means whereby they could at once portray and conceal the Cross of Christ. That in this way they should have discovered and adopted the crux gammata, is easily intelligible, and it is explained not merely by what has already been said, but also by the similarity between the Greek character gamma () and the Phnician character tan. The latter has been famous since Apostolic times as a symbol of the Cross of Christ and of the Redemption (cf. Barnabæ Epist., ix, 9).
The so-called Constantinian monogram prevailed during the whole of the fourth century, assuming various forms, and combining with the apocalyptic letters , but ever approaching more and more closely to the form of the cross pure and simple. In the latter part of that century what is known as the "monogrammatic cross" makes its appearance; it closely resembles the plain cross, and foreshadows its complete triumph in Christian art. The early years of the fifth century are of the highest importance in this development, because it was then that the undisguised cross first appears. As we have seen, such was the diffidence induced, and the habit of caution enforced, by three centuries of persecution, that the faithful had hesitated all that time to display the sign of Redemption openly and publicly. Constantine by the Edict of Milan had given definitive peace to the Church; yet, for another century the faithful did not judge it opportune to abandon the use of the Constantinian monogram in one or other of its many forms But the fifth century marks the period when Christian art broke away from old fears, and, secure in its triumph, displayed before the world, now become Christian also, the sign of its redemption. To bring about so profound a change in the artistic traditions of Christianity, besides the altered condition of the Church in the eyes of the Roman State, two facts of great importance played a part: the miraculous apparition of the Cross to Constantine and the finding of the Holy Wood.
Constantine having declared war on Maxentius had invaded Italy. During the campaign which ensued he is said to have seen in the heavens one day a luminous cross together with the words EN-TOUTOI-NIKA(In this conquer.) During the night that followed that day, he saw again, in sleep the same cross, and Christ, appearing with it, admonished him to place it on his standards. Thus the Labarum took its origin, and under this glorious banner Constantine overcame his adversary near the Milvian Bridge, on 28 October, 312 (see CONSTANTINE THE GREAT).
The second event was of even greater importance. In the year 326 the mother of Constantine, Helena, then about 80 years old, having journeyed to Jerusalem, undertook to rid the Holy Sepulchre of the mound of earth heaped upon and around it, and to destroy the pagan buildings that profaned its site, Some revelations which she had received gave her confidence that she would discover the Saviour's Tomb and His Cross. The work was carried on diligently, with the co-operation of St. Macarius, bishop of the city. The Jews had hidden the Cross in a ditch or well, and covered it over with stones, so that the faithful might not come and venerate it. Only a chosen few among the Jews knew the exact spot where it had been hidden, and one of them, named Judas, touched by Divine inspiration, pointed it out to the excavators, for which act he was highly praised by St. Helena. Judas afterwards became a Christian saint, and is honoured under the name of Cyriacus. During the excavation three crosses were found, but because the titulus was detached from the Cross of Christ, there was no means of identifying it. Following an inspiration from on high, Macarius caused the three crosses to be carried, one after the other, to the bedside of a worthy woman who was at the point of death. The touch of the other two was of no avail; but on touching that upon which Christ had died the woman got suddenly well again. From a letter of St. Paulinus to Severus inserted in the Breviary of Paris it would appear that St. Helena. herself had sought by means of a miracle to discover which was the True Cross and that she caused a man already dead and buried to be carried to the spot, whereupon, by contact with the third cross, he came to life. From yet another tradition, related by St.Ambrose, it would seem that the titulus, or inscription, had remained fastened to the Cross.
After the happy discovery, St. Helena and Constantine erected a magnificent basilica over the Holy Sepulchre, and that is the reason why the church bore the name of St. Constantinus. The precise spot of the finding was covered by the atrium of the basilica, and there the Cross was set up in an oratory, as appears in the restoration executed by de Vogüé. When this noble basilica had been destroyed by the infidels, Arculfus, in the seventh century, enumerated four buildings upon the Holy Places around Golgotha, and one of them was the "Church of the Invention" or "of the Finding". This church was attributed by him and by topographers of later times to Constantine. The Frankish monks of Mount Olivet, writing to Leo III, style it St. Constantinus. Perhaps the oratory built by Constantine suffered less at the hands of the Persians than the other buildings, and so could still retain the name and style of Martyrium Constantinianum. (See De Rossi, Bull. d' arch. crist., 1865, 88.)
A portion of the True Cross remained at Jerusalem enclosed in a silver reliquary; the remainder, with the nails, must have been sent to Constantine, and it must have been this second portion that he caused to be enclosed in the statue of himself which was set on a porphyry column in the Forum at Constantinople; Socrates, the historian, relates that this statue was to make the city impregnable. One of the nails was fastened to the emperor's helmet, and one to his horse's bridle, bringing to pass, according to many of the Fathers, what had been written by Zacharias the Prophet: "In that day that which is upon the bridle of the horse shall be holy to the Lord" (Zach., xiv, 20). Another of the nails was used later in the Iron Crown of Lombardy preserved in the treasury of the cathedral of Monza. Eusebius in his Life of Constantine, describing the work of excavating and building on the site of the Holy Sepulchre, does not speak of the True Cross. In the story of a journey to Jerusalem made in 333 (Itinerarium Burdigalense) the various tombs and the basilica of Constantine are referred to, but no mention is made of the True Cross. The earliest reference to it is in the "Catecheses" of St. Cyril of Jerusalem (P. G., XXXIII, 468, 686, 776) written in the year 348, or at least twenty years after the supposed discovery.
In this tradition of the "Invention", or discovery of the True Cross, not a word is said as to the smaller portions of it scattered up and down the world. The story, as it has reached us, has been admitted, since the beginning of the fifth century, by all ecclesiastical writers, with, however, many more or less important variations. By many critics the tradition of the finding of the Cross through the work of St. Helena. in the vicinity of Calvary has been held to be mere legend without any historical reality these critics relying chiefly upon the silence of Eusebius, who tells of all else that St. Helena did in Jerusalem, but says nothing about her finding the Cross. Still, however difficult it may be to explain this silence, it would be unsound to annihilate with a negative argument a universal tradition dating from the fifth century. The wonders related in the Syriac book "Doctrina. Addai" (sixth century) and in the legend of the Jew Cyriacus, who is said to have been inspired to reveal to St. Helena, the place where the Cross was buried, are responsible at least in part for the common beliefs of the faithful on this matter. These beliefs are universally held to be apocryphal. (See Duchesne, Lib. Pont., I, p. cviii.) However that may be, the testimony of Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem from 350 or 351, who was on the spot a very few years after the event took place, and was a contemporary of Eusebius of Cæsarea, is explicit and formal as to the finding of the Cross at Jerusalem during the reign of Constantine this testimony is contained in a letter to the Emperor Constantius (P. G. XXXIII, 52, 1167; and cf. 686, 687). It is true that the authenticity of this letter is questioned, but without solid grounds. St. Ambrose (De obit. Theod., 45-48 in P.L., XVI, 401) and Rufinus (Hist. eccl., I, viii in P. L., XXI, 476) bear witness to the fact of the finding. Silvia of Aquitaine (Peregrinatio ad loca sancta, ed. Gamurrini, Rome 1888. p. 76) assures us that in her time the feast of the Finding was commemorated on Calvary, that event having naturally become the occasion of a special feast under the name of "The Invention of the Holy Cross". The feast dates from very early times at Jerusalem, and it was gradually introduced into other Churches. Papebroch (Acta SS., 3 May) tells us that it did not become general until about the year 720. In the Latin Church it is kept on the 3rd of May; the Greek Church keeps it on the 14th of September the same day as the Exaltation, another feast of very remote origin, supposed to have been instituted at Jerusalem to commemorate the dedication of the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre (335) and thence introduced at Rome.
Constantine's vision of the Cross, and perhaps another apparition which took place in Jerusalem in 346, would seem to have been commemorated in this same feast. But its chief glory is its connection with the restoration of the True Cross to the Church of Jerusalem, after it had been carried away by the Persian king, Chosroes (Khusrau) II, the conqueror of Phocas, when he captured and sacked the Holy City. This Chosroes was afterwards vanquished by the Emperor Heraclius II and in 628 was assassinated by his own son Siroes (Shirva), who restored the Cross to Heraclius. It was then carried in triumph to Constantinople and thence, in the Spring of the year 629, to Jerusalem. Heraclius, who wished to carry the Holy Cross upon his own shoulders on this occasion, found it extremely heavy, but when, upon the advice of the Patriarch Zacharias, he laid aside his crown and imperial robe of state, the sacred burden became light, and he was able to carry it to the church. In the following year Heraclius was conquered by the Mahommedans, and in 647 Jerusalem was taken by them.
In reference to this feast the Paris Breviary associates with the memory of Heraclius that of St. Louis of France, who, on 14 September, 1241 barefoot and divested of his royal robes, carried the fragment of the Holy Cross sent to him by the Templars, who had received it as a pledge from Baldwin. This fragment escaped destruction during the Revolution and is still preserved at Paris. There, also, is preserved the incombustible cross left to the abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés by the Princess Anna Gonzaga, together with two portions of the Nails. Very soon after the discovery of the True Cross its wood was cut up into small relics and quickly scattered throughout the Christian World. We know this from the writings of St. Ambrose, of St. Paulinus of Nola, of Sulpicius Severus, of Rufinus, and, among the Greeks, of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret (cf. Duchesne, "Lib, Pont.", I, p. cvii; Marucchi "Basiliques de Rome", 1902, 348 sq.; Pennacchi, "De Inventâ Ierosolymis Constantino magno Imp. Cruce D. N. I. C.", Rome, 1892; Baronius, "Annales Eccl,", ad an. 336, Lucca, 1739, IV, 178). Many portions of it are preserved in Santa Croce in Gerusalemme at Rome, and in Notre-Dame at Paris (cf. Rohault de Fleury, "Mémoire", 45-163; Gosselin, Notice historique sur la Sainte Couronne et les autres Instruments de la Passion de Note-Dame de Paris", Paris, 1828; Sauvage, "Documents sur les reliques de la, Vrai Croix", Rouen, 1893). St. Paulinus in one of his letters refers to the redintegration of the Cross, i.e. that it never grew smaller in size, no matter how many pieces were detached from it. And the same St. Paulinus received from Jerusalem a relic of the Cross enclosed in a golden tube, but so small that it was almost an atom, "in segmento pene atomo hastulæ brevis munimentum præsentis et pignus æternæ salutis" (Epist. xxxi ad Severum).
The historical detail we have been considering sufficiently accounts for appearance of the cross on monuments dating from the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth century, In an arcosolium in the Catacomb of St. Callistus a cross composed of flowers and foliage with two doves at its base is still partially disguised, but begins to be more easily recognizable (cf. De Rossi, Rom. Sott., III, Pl. XII). Especially in Africa, where Christianity had made more rapid progress, the cross began to appear openly during the course of the fourth century; The most ancient text we have relating to a carved cross dates from later than A.D. 362. The cross was used on the coinage of Christian princes and peoples with the superscription, Salus Mundi. The "adoration" of the Cross, which up to this time had been restricted to private cult, now began to assume a public and solemn character. At the end of the fourth century Christian poets were already writing, "Flecte genu lignumque Crucis venerabile adora". The second Council of Nicæa, among other precepts that deal with images, lays down that the Cross should receive an adoration of honour, "honorariam adorationem". (See TRUE CROSS.) To the pagans who taunted them with being as much idolaters as they accused the pagans of being towards their gods, they replied that they took their stand on the nature of the cult they that it was not latria, but a relative worship, and the material symbol only served to raise their minds to the Divine Type, Jesus Christ Crucified (cf. Tert., "Apol", xvi; Minucius Felix, "Octav.", ix-xii). Wherefore St. Ambrose, speaking on the veneration of the Cross, thought it opportune to explain the idea: "Let us adore Christ, our King, who hung upon the wood, and not the wood" (Regem Christum qui pependit in 1igno . . . non lignum. -- "In obit. Theodosii", xlvi). The Western Church observes the solemn public veneration (called the "Adoration") on Good Friday. In the Gregorian Sacramentary we read: "Venit Pontifexet et adoratam deosculatur". In the Eastern Church the special veneration of the Cross is performed on the Third Sunday in Lent (Kyriake tes stauroproskyneseos "Sunday of the Cross-veneration") and during the week that follows it. The gradual spread of the devotion to the Cross incidentally occasioned abuses in the piety of the faithful. Indeed, we learn from the edicts of Valentinian and Theodosius that the cross was at times set up in very unseemly places. The evil-minded, the ignorant, and all those who practiced spells, charms, and other such superstitions perverted the widespread devotion to their own corrupt uses. To deceive the faithful and turn their piety into lucre, these people associated the sign of the cross with their superstitious and magical symbols, winning thereby the confidence and trust of their dupes. To all this corruption of the religious idea the teachers of the Church opposed themselves, exhorting the faithful to true piety and to beware of superstitious talismans (cf. St. John Chrysostom, Hom. vii in Epist. ad Coloss., vii, and elsewhere; De Rossi, "Bull. d'archeol. crist." 1869, 62-64).
The distribution of portions of the wood of the Cross led to the making of a remarkable number of crosses from the fourth century onwards, many of which have come down to us. Known under the names of encolpia and pectoral crosses they often served to enclose fragments of the True Cross; they were merely crosses worn on the breast out of devotion-"To wear upon the breast a cross, hung from the neck, with the Sacred Wood, or with relics of saints, which is what they call an encolpium" (Anastasius Bibliothecarius on Act. V of VIII Dec. Counc.). On the origin and use of pectoral crosses see Giovanni Scandella, "Considerazioni sopra un encolpio eneo rinvenuto in Corfu" (Trieste, 1854). St. John Chrysostom, in his polemic against Jews and Gentiles, wherein he panegyrizes the triumph of the Cross, testifies that whosoever, man or woman possessed a relic of it had it enclosed in gold and wore it around the neck (St. John Chrysostom, ed. Montfaucon, I, 571). St. Macrina (d. 379) sister of St. Gregory Nazianzen, wore an iron cross on her breast; we do not really know its shape; perhaps it was the monogrammatic one taken by her brother from her dead body. Among the belongings of Maria, the daughter of Stilicho and wife of Honorius, laid away together with her body in the Vatican basilica, and found there in 1544, there were counted no fewer than ten small crosses in gold adorned with emeralds and gems, as may be seen in the illustrations preserved by Lucio Fauno (Antich. Rom., V, x). In the Kircherian Museum there is a small gold cross, hollowed for relics, and dating from the fifth century. It has a ring attached to it for securing it around the neck, and it seems to have had grapevine ornamentation at the extremities. A very beautiful cross, described by De Rossi and by him attributed to the sixth century, was found in a tomb in the Agro Verano at Rome (Bull. d'arch. Crist., 1863, 33-38). The general characteristic of these more ancient crosses is their simplicity and lack of inscription, in contrast to those of the Byzantine era and times later than the sixth century. Among the most noteworthy is the staurotheca of St. Gregory the Great (590-604), preserved at Monza, which is really a pectoral cross (cf. Bugatti, "Memorie di S. Celso", 174 sq.; Borgia, "De Cruce Veliternâ", pp. cxxxiii sqq.). Scandella (op. cit.) points out that St. Gregory is the first to mention the cruciform shape given to these golden reliquaries. But, as we have seen, they date from much earlier times, as is proved by the one found in the Agro Verano, among others. Some writers go too far in wishing to push their antiquity back to the beginning of the fourth century. They base their opinion on documents in the acts of the martyrs under Diocletian. In those of the martyrdom of St. Procopius we read that he caused a gold pectoral cross to be made, and that there appeared on it miraculously in Hebrew letters the names Emmanuel, Michael, Gabriel. The Bollandists, however, reject these acts, which they demonstrate to be of little authority (Acta SS., July, II, p. 554). In the history of St. Eustratius and other martyrs of Lesser Armenia, it is related that a soldier named Orestes was recognized to be a Christian because, during some military manœuvres, a certain movement of his body displayed the fact that he wore a golden cross on his breast (cf. Aringhi, Rom. Subt., II, 545); but even this history is far from being entirely accurate.
The recent opening of the famous treasury of the Sancta Sanctorum near the Lateran has restored to our possession some objects of the highest value in connection with the wood of the Holy Cross, and bearing on our knowledge of crosses containing particles of the Holy Wood, and of churches built in the fifth and sixth centuries in its honour. Among the objects found in this treasury was a votive cross of about the fifth century, inlaid with large gems, a cruciform wooden box with a sliding lid bearing the words (light, life), and lastly, a gold cross ornamented with cloisonnés enamels. The first of these is most important because it belongs to the same period (if not to an even earlier one) as the famous cross of Justin II, of the sixth century, preserved in the treasury at St. Peter's, and which contains a relic of the True Cross set in jewels. It was held, up to the present, to be the oldest cross extant in a precious metal (De Waal in "Römische Quartalschrift", VII, 1893, 245 sq.; Molinier, "Hist. générale des arts; L'orfèvrerie religieuse et civile", Paris, 1901, vol. IV, pt. I, p. 37). This cross, containing relics of the Holy Cross, was discovered by Pope Sergius I (687-701) in the sacristy of St. Peter's basilica (cf. Duchesne, Lib. Pont., I, 347, s. v. Sergius) in a sealed silver case. It contained a jewelled cross enclosing a piece of the True Cross, and dates, perhaps, from the fifth century.
Enamelled crosses of this nature, an inheritance of Byzantine art, do not date earlier than the sixth century. The oldest example of this type we have is a fragment of the reliquary adorned with cloisonnés enamels in which a fragment of the cross was carried to Poitiers between 565 and 575 (cf. Molinier, op. cit.; Barbier de Montault, "Le trésor de la Sainte Croix de Poitiers", 1883). Of later date are the Cross of Victory at Limburg near Aachen. Charlemagne's cross, and that of St. Stephen at Vienna. Besides these we have in Italy the enamelled cross of Cosenza (eleventh century) the Gaeta cross, also in enamel, crosses in the Christian section of the Vatican Museum, and the celebrated cross of Velletri (eighth or tenth century) adorned with precious gems and enamel, and discussed by Cardinal Stefano Borgia in his work, "De Cruce Veliternâ".
The world-wide devotion to the Cross and its relics during the fifth and succeeding centuries was so great that even the iconoclast Emperors of the East in their suppression of the cult of images had to respect that of the Cross (cf. Banduri, "Numism. imp." II, p.702 sq.; Niceph., "Hist. Eccl.", XVIII, liv). This cult of the Cross called forth the building of many Churches and oratories wherein to treasure its precious relics. The church of S. Croce at Ravenna was built by Galla Placidia before the year 450 "in honorem sanctæ crucis Domini, a quâ habet et nomen et formam" (Muratori, Script. rer. ital., I, Pl. II, p.544a). Pope Symmachus (498-514; cf. Duchesne, "Lib. Pont.", 261 s. v. Symmachus, no. 79) built an oratory of the Holy Cross behind the baptistery at St. Peter's, and placed in it a jewelled gold cross containing a relic of the True Cross. Pope Hilarius (461-468) did the like at the Lateran, building an oratory communicating with the baptistery, and placing in it a similar cross (Duchesne. op. cit., I, 242: "ubi lignum posuit dominicum, crucem auream cum gemmis quæ pens. lib. XX").
The unvarying characteristic style of cross in the fifth and sixth centuries is for the most part decked with flowers, palms, and foliage, sometimes sprouting from the root of the cross itself, or adorned with gems and precious stones. Sometimes on two small chains hanging from the arms of the cross one sees the apocalyptic letters Alpha, Omega, and over them were hung small lamps or candles. On the mosaics in the church of St. Felix at Nola, St. Paulinus caused to be written: "Cerne coronatam domini super atria Christi stare crucem" (Ep, xxxii, 12, ad Sever.). A flowered and jewelled cross is that painted on the baptistery of the Catacomb of Ponzianus on the Via Portuensis (cf. Bottari, Rorn. Sott,, P1. XLIV). The cross is also displayed on the mosaic in the baptistery built by Galla Placidia, in the church of San Vitale, and in Sant' Apollinare in Classe, at Ravenna, and over a ciborium from St. Sophia at Constantinople. In 1867, at Berezov Islands, on the River Sosswa, in Siberia, there was found a silver plate, or liturgical paten, of Syrian workmanship, which now belongs to Count Gregory Stroganov. In the centre of it is a cross standing on a terrestrial globe studded with stars; on either side stands an angel with a staff in his left hand, the right being raised in adoration; four rivers flow from its base and indicate that the scene is in Paradise. Some learned Russians attribute the plate to the ninth century, but De Rossi, more correctly, places it in the seventh century. In these same centuries the cross was of frequent use in liturgical rites and processions of great solemnity. It was carried in the churches where the stations were; the bearer of it was called draconarius, and the cross itself stationalis. These crosses were often very costly (cf. Bottari, Rom. Sott., Pl. XLIV), the most famous being the cross of Ravenna and that of Velletri.
The sign of the cross was made at liturgical functions over persons and things, sometimes with five fingers extended, to represent the Five Wounds of Christ sometimes with three, in sign of the Persons of the Trinity, and sometimes with only one, symbolical of the unity of God. For the blessing of the chalice and oblations Leo IV prescribed that two fingers be extended and thumb placed beneath them. This is the only true sign of the Trinitarian Cross. The pope warmly recommended his clergy to make this sign with care, else their blessing would be fruitless. The action was accompanied by the solemn formula, "In nomine Patris, etc." Another use of the cross was in the solemn dedication of churches (see ALPHABET; CONSECRATION). The bishop who performed the ceremony wrote the alphabet in Latin and Greek on the floor of the church along two straight lines crossing in the form of the Roman decussis. The letter X, which in the land-plottings of the Roman augurs represented, with its two component lines, the cardo maximus and the decumanus maximus, was the same decussis used by the Roman agrimensores, in their surveys of farms, to indicate boundaries. This sign was appropriate to Christ by its cruciform shape and by its identity in shape with the initial letter of His name, Christos, in Greek. For this reason it was one of the genuine forms of the signum Christi.
The use of the cross became so widespread in the fifth and following centuries that anything like a complete enumeration of the monuments on which it appears is well nigh impossible. Suffice it to say that there is hardly a remnant of antiquity dating from this century, whether lowly and mean or noble and grand, which does not bear the sign. In proof of this we shall give here a cursory enumeration. It is quite frequent on sepulchral monuments, on the imperial urns at Constantinople, on the plaster of the loculi (resting-places) in the catacombs, especially of Rome, in a painting in a Christian cemetery at Alexandria in Egypt, on a mosaic at Boville near Rome, on an inscription for a tomb made in the form of a cross and now in the museum at Marseilles, on the interior walls of sepulchral chambers, on the front of marble sarcophagi dating from the fifth century. In these last instances it is common to see the cross surmounted by the monogram and surrounded by a laurel wreath (e.g. the sarcophagi at Arles, and in the Lateran Museum). A very fine specimen was found recently in excavations in St. Domitilla's Catacomb on the Ostian Way; it is a symbolical picture of souls freed from the trammels of the body, and saved by means of the Cross, which has two doves on its arms, while armed guards are asleep at its base. Lastly, in England, crosses have been found on sepulchral monuments. So universal was its use by the faithful that they put it even on household utensils, on medals of devotion, on pottery lamps, spoons, cups, plates, glassware on clasps dating from Merovingian times, on inscriptions and votive offerings, on seals made in the form of a cross, on toys representing animals, on ivory combs, on the seals of wine-jars, on reliquary boxes, and even on water-pipes. In objects of liturgical use we meet it on Biblical codices, on vestments, pallia, on leaden thongs inscribed with exorcising formulæs and it was signed on the foreheads of catechumens and candidates for confirmation. The architectural details of churches and basilicas were ornamented with crosses; the façades, the marble slabs, the transoms, the pillars, the capitals, the keystones of arches, the altar-tables, the bishops' thrones, the diptychs, and the bells were also ornamented in the same way. In the artistic monuments the so-called cruciform nimbus around Our Saviour's head is well known. The cross appears over His head, and near that of the orante, as in the oil-stocks of Santo Menna. It is also to be met with on monuments of a symbolical nature: on the rocks whence flow the four celestial rivers the cross finds its place; on the vase and on the symbolical ship, on the head of the tempting serpent, and even on the lion in Daniel's den.
When Christianity had become the official religion of the empire, it was natural that the cross should be carved on public monuments. In fact it was from the first used to purify and sanctify monuments and temples originally pagan; it was prefixed to signatures and to inscriptions placed on public work; it was borne by consuls on their sceptres, the first to do so being Basil the Younger (A.D. 541 -- cf. Gori, Thes. diptych., II, Pl. XX). It was cut in marble quarries and in brickyards, and on the gates of cities (cf. de Vogüé, Syrie Centrale; Architecture du VII siécle).
At Rome there is still to be seen on the Gate of St. Sebastian the figure of a Greek cross surrounded by a circle with the invocations: In and around Bologna it was usual to set the sign of salvation in the public streets. According to tradition, these crosses are very ancient, and four of them date from the time of St. Petronius. Some of them were restored in the ninth and tenth centuries (cf. Giovanni Gozzadini, Delle croci monumentali che erano nelle vie di Bologna nel secolo xiii).
The cross also played an important part in heraldry and diplomatic science. The former does not directly come within our scope; of the second we shall give the briefest outlines. Crosses are to be found on documents of early medieval times and, being placed at the head of a deed, were equivalent to an invocation of heaven, whether they were plain or ornamental. They were at times placed before signatures, and they have even been equilavalent to signatures in themselves. Indeed, from the tenth century we find, under contracts, roughly-made crosses that have all the appearance of being intended as signatures. Thus did Hugh Capet, Robert Capet, Henry I, and Philip I sign their official documents. This usage declined in the thirteenth century and appeared again in the fifteenth. In our own day the cross is reserved as the attestation-mark of illiterate people. A cross was characteristic of the signature of Apostolic notaries, but this was carefully designed, not rapidly written. In the early Middle Ages crosses were decorated with even greater magnifìcence. In the centre were to be seen medallions representing the Lamb of God, Christ, or the saints. Such is the case in the Velletri cross and that which Justin II gave to St. Peter's, mentioned above, and again in the silver cross of Agnello at Ravenna (cf. Ciampini, Vet. mon., II, Pl. XIV). All this kind of decoration displays the substitution of some more or less complete symbol for the figure of Christ on the cross, of which we are about to speak.
It may be well to give here a list of works bearing on the departments of the subject just treated, and containing illustrations which it has not been opportune to quote in the foregoing part of the article: STOCKBAUER, Kunstgeschichte desKreuzes (Schaffhause, 1870); GRIMOUARD DE SAINT-LAURENT, lconographie de la Croix et du Crucifix in Ann. archéol., XXVI, XXVII; MARTIGNY, Dictionnaire des antiquités chrétiennes, s. v. Crucifix; BAYET, Recherches pour savir à l'histoire de la peinture. . .en orient (Paris, 1879): MÜNZ, Les mosaïques chrétiennes de l'Italie (l'oratoire de Jeann VII) in Rev. archéol.,1877, II; LABARTE, Histoire des arts industriels, II; KRAUS, Real-Encyklopädie der christliche. Alterhümer (Freiburg, 1882).
LATER DEVELOPMENT OF THE CRUCIFIX
We have seen the progressive steps -- artistic, symbolical, and allegorical -- through which the representation of the Cross passed from the first centuries down to the Middle Ages and we have seen some of the reasons which prevented Christian art from making an earlier display of the figure of the cross. Now the cross, as it was seen during all this time was only a symbol of the Divine Victim and not a direct representation. We can thus more easily understand, then how much more circumspection was necessary in proceeding to a direct portrayal of the Lord's actual Crucifixion. Although in the fifth century the cross began to appear on public monuments, it was not for a century afterwards that the figure on the cross was shown; and not until the close of the fifth, or even the middle of the sixth century, did it appear without disguise. But from the sixth century onward we find many images -- not allegorical, but historical and realistic of the crucified Saviour. To proceed in order, we will first examine the rare allusions, as it were, to the Crucifixion in Christian art down to the sixth century, and then look at the productions of that art in the later period.
Seeing that the cross was the symbol of an ignominious death, the repugnance of the early Christians to any representation of Christ's torments and ignominy is easily understood. On a few sarcophagi of the fifth century (e.g. one in the Lateran, no. 171) scenes from the Passion are shown, but so treated as to show none of the shame and horror attaching to that instrument of death which was, as St. Paul says, "to the Jews a scandal, and to the Gentiles foolishness". Yet, from the first ages Christians were loth to deprive themselves altogether of the image of their crucified Redeemer, though, for the reasons already stated and because of the "Discipline of the Secret" (q. v.), they could not represent the scene openly. The Council of Elvira, c. 300, decreed that what was to be adored ought not to be used in mural decoration. Wherefore recourse was had to allegory and to veiled forms, as in the case of the cross itself, (Cf. Bréhier, Les origines du Crucifix dans l'art religieux, Paris, 1904.) One of the most ancient allegories of the Crucifixion is considered to be that of the lamb lying at the foot of the anchor -- symbols respectively of the Cross and of Christ. A very ancient inscription in the Crypt of Lucina, in the Catacombs of St. Callistus, shows this picture, which is otherwise somewhat rare (cf. De Rossi, Rom. Sott. Christ., I, Pl. XX). The same symbol was still in use at the end of the fourth and beginning of the fifth century. In the description of the mosaics in the basilica of St. Felix at Nola, St. Paulinus shows us the same cross in connection with the mystical lamb, evidently an allusion to the Crucifixion, and he adds the well-known verse: "Sub cruce sanguineâ niveus stat Christus in agno"
We saw above that the trident was a veiled image of the cross. In the Catacomb of St. Callistus we have a more complicated study; the mystical dolphin is twined around the trident -- very expressive symbol of the Crucifixion. The early Christians in their artistic labours did not disdain to draw upon the symbols and allegories of pagan mythology, as long as these were not contrary to Christian faith and morals. In the Catacomb of St. Callistus a sarcophagus, dating from the third century, was found, the front of which shows Ulysses tied to the mast while he listens to the song of the Sirens; near him are his companions, who with ears filled with wax, cannot hear the alluring song. All this is symboliccal of the Cross, and of the Crucified, who has closed against the seductions of evil the ears of the faithful during their voyage over the treacherous sea of life in the ship which will bring them to the harbour of salvation. Such is the interpretation given by St. Maximus of Turin in the homily read on Good Friday (S. Maximi opera, Rome, 1874, 151. Cf. De Rossi, Rom. Sott., I, 344-345 Pl. XXX, 5). A very important monument belonging to the beginning of the third century shows the Crucifixion openly. This would seem to contradict what we have said above, but it should be remembered that this is the work of pagan, and not of Christian, hands (cf. De Rossi, Bull, d'arch, crist., 1863, 72, and 1867, 75), and therefore it has no real value as a proof among purely Christian works. On a beam in the Pdagogioum on the Palatine there was discovered a graffito on the plaster, showing a man with an ass's head, and clad in a perizoma (or short loin-cloth) and fastened to a crux immissa (regular Latin cross). Near by there is another man in an attitude of prayer with the legend Alexamenos sebetai theon, i.e., "Alexamenos adores God." This graffito is now to be seen in the Kircherian Museum in Rome, and is but an impious caricature in mockery of the Christian Alexamenos, drawn by one of his pagan comrades of the Paedagogioum. (See the article entitled Ass.) In fact Tertullian tells us that in his day, i.e. precisely at the time when this caricature was made. Christians were accused of adoring an ass's head, "Somniatis caput asininum esse Deum nostrum" (Apol., xvi; Ad Nat., I, ii). And Minucius Felix confirms this (Octav., ix). The Palatine graffito is also important as showing that the Christians used the crucifix in their private devotions at least as early as the third century. It would not have been possible for Alexamenos' companion to trace the graffito of a crucified person clad in the perizoma (which was contrary to Roman usage) if he had not seen some such figure made use of by the Christians. Professor Haupt sought to identify it as a caricature of a worshipper of the Egyptian god Seth, the Typho of the Greeks, but his explanatian was refuted by Kraus. Recently, a similar opinion has been put forth by Wünsch, who takes his stand on the letter Y which is placed near the crucified figure, and which has also been found on a tablet relating to the worship of Seth; he therefore concludes that Alexamenos of the graffito belonged to the Sethian sect. (With reference to the Alexamenos graffito, which certainly has a bearing on the crucifix and its use by the early Christians, see Raffaele Garucci, "Un crocifisso graffito da mano pagana nella casa dei Cesari sul Palatino", Rome, 1857; Ferdinand Becker, "Das Spott-Crucifix der römischen Kaiserpaläste", Breslau, 1866; Kraus, "Das Spott-Crucifix vom Palatin", Freiburg im Breisgau, 1872; Visconti, "Di un nuovo graffito palatino relativo al cristiano Alessameno", Rome, 1870; Visconti and Lanciani, "Guida del Palatino", 1873, p. 86; De Rossi, "Rom. Sott. Crist.", 1877, pp. 353-354; Wünsch, ed., "Setianische Verfluchungstafeln aus Rom", Leipzig, 1898, p. 110 sqq.; Vigouroux, "Les livres saints et la critique rationaliste", I, 94-102.) The crucifix and representations of the Crucifixion became general after the sixth century, on manuscripts, then on private monuments, and finally even on public monuments. But its appearance on monuments up to about the eighth century surely indicates such monuments to be works of private zeal and devotion, or, at least, not clearly and decidedly public. As a matter of fact, it is noteworthy that, in the year 692, i.e. at the end of the seventh century the Quinisext Council of Constantinople, called the Trullan, ordered the symbolical and allegorical treatment to be laid aside. The earliest MS. bearing a representation of Christ crucified is in a miniature of a Syriac codex of the Gospels dating from A.D. 586 (Codex Syriacus, 56), written by the scribe Rabula, and which is in the Laurentian Library at Florence. Therein the figure of Christ is robed (Assemani, Biblioth. Laurent. Medic. catalog., Pl. XXIII, p. 194). Other images of the crucifix belong to the sixth century. Gregory of Tours, in his work "De Gloriâ Martyrum", I, xxv, speaks of a crucifix robed in a colobium, or tunic, which in his day was publicly venerated at Narbonne in the church of St. Genesius, and which he considered a profanation -- so far was the public cult of the crucifix from having become general up to that time. A cross belonging to the sixth century is to be found in the treasury at Monza, on which the image of the Saviour is wrought in enamel (cf. Mozzoni, "Tavole cronologiche-critiche della stor. eccl: secolo VII", 79), and which seems to be identical with that given by St. Gregory the Great to Theodolinda, Queen of the Lombards. We know also that he gave a cross to Recared, King of the Visigoths, and to others (cf. S. Gregorii Lib. III, Epist. xxxii; Lib. IX, Epist. cxxii; Lib. XIII, Epist. xlii; Lib. XIV, Epist. xii).
It is certain, then, that the custom of displaying the Redeemer on the Cross began with the close of the sixth century, especially on encolpia, yet such examples of the crucifix are rare. As an example, we have a Byzantine encolpion, with a Greek inscription, which was erroneously thought to have been discovered in the Roman Catacombs in 1662, and about which the renowned Leo Allatius has written learnedly (cf. "Codice Chigiano", VI; Fea, "Miscellanea filol. critica', 282). The little metal vases at Monza, in which was carried to Queen Theodolinda the oil from the Holy Places, show clearly how the repugnance to effigies of Christ lasted well into the sixth century. In the scene of the Crucifixion thereon depicted, the two thieves alone are seen with arms extended, in the attitude of crucifixion, but without a cross, while Christ appears as an orante, with a nimbus, ascending among the clouds, and in all the majesty of glory, above a cross under a decoration of flowers. (Cf. Mozzoni, op. cit., 77, 84.) In the same manner, on another monument, we see the cross between two archangels while the bust of Christ is shown above. Another very important monument of this century, and perhaps dating even from the preceding one, is the Crucifixion carved on the wooden doors at S. Sabina on the Aventine Hill, at Rome. The Crucified Christ, stripped of His garments, and on a, cross, but not nailed to the cross, and between two thieves, is shown as an orante, and the scene of the Crucifixion is, to a, certain extent, artistically veiled. The carving is roughly done, but the work has become of great importance, owing to recent studies thereon, wherefore we shall briefly indicate the various writings dealing with it: Grisar, "Analecta Romana", 427 sqq.; Berthier, "La Porte de Sainte-Sabine à Rome; Etude archéologique" (Fribourg, Switzerland, 1892); Pératé, "L'Archéologie chrétienne" in "Bibliothèque de l'ensiegnement des beaux arts" (Paris, 1892, pp. 330-36); Bertram, "Die Thüren von Sta. Sabina in Rom: das Vorbild der Bernwards Thüren am Dom zu Hildesheim" (Fribourg, Switzerland, 1892); Ehrhard, "Die altchristliche Prachtthüre der Basilika Sta. Sabina in Rom" in "Der Katholik", LXXIX (1892), 444 sqq., 538 sqq.; "Civiltà Cattolica", IV (1892), 68-89; "'Römische Quartalschrift", VII (1893), 102; "Analecta Bollandiana", XIII (1894), 53; Forret and Müller, "Kreuz und Kreuzigung Christi in ihrer Kunstentwicklung" (Strasburg, 1894), 15, Pl. II and Pl, III; Strzygowski, "Das Berliner Moses-relief und die Thüren von Sta. Sabina. in Rom" in "Jahrbuch der königl. preussischen Kunstsammlungen", XVI (1893), 65-81; Ehrhard, "Prachtthüre von S. Sabina in Rom und die Domthüre von Spalato" in "Ephemeris Spalatensis" (1894), 9 sqq.: Grisar, "Kreuz und Kreuzigung auf der altchristl. Thüre von S. Sabina in Rom (Rome, 1894); Dobbert, "Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Crucifixes" in "Jahrb. der preuss. Kunstsammlungen", I (1880), 41-50.
To this same period belongs a crucifix at Mount Athos (see Smith's "Dictionary of Christian Antiquities", London, 1875, I, 514), as well as an ivory in the British Museum. Christ is shown wearing only a loin-cloth: He appears as if alive; and not suffering physical pain. To the left, Judas is seen hanged; and below is the purse of money. In the following century the Crucifixion is still sometimes represented with the restrictions we have noticed, for instance, in the mosaic made in 642 by Pope Theodore in S. Stefano Rotondo, Rome. There, between Sts. Primas and Felician, the cross is to be seen, with the bust of the Saviour just above it. In the same seventh century, also, the scene of the Crucifixion is shown in all its historic reality in the crypt of St. Valentine's Catacomb on the Via Flaminia (cf. Marucchi, La cripta sepolcrale di S. Valentino, Rome, 1878). Bosio saw it in the sixteenth century, and it was then in a better state of preservation than it is to-day (Bosio, Roma Sott., III, lxv). Christ crucified appears between Our Lady and St. John and is clad in a long, flowing tunic (colobium), and fastened by four nails, as was the ancient tradition, and as Gregory of Tours teaches: "Clavorum ergo dominicorum gratiâ quod quatuor fuerint hæc est ratio: duo sunt affixi in palmis, et duo in plantis"" ("De Gloriâ Martyrum", I, vi, in P.L., XXI, 710).
The last objections and obstacles to the realistic reproduction of the Crucifixion disappeared in the beginning of the eighth century. In the oratory built by Pope John VII in the Vatican, A.D. 705, the crucifix was represented realistically in mosaic. But the figure was robed, as we may learn from the drawings made by Grimaldi in the time of Paul V, when the oratory was pulled down to make room for the modern façade. Part of such a mosaic still exists in the grottoes at the Vatican similar in treatment to that of John VII. Belonging to the same century, though dating a little later, is the image of the Crucified discovered a few years ago in the apse of the old church of S. Maria Antiqua in the Roman Forum. This remarkable picture, now happily recovered, was visible for a little while in the month of May, 1702, and is mentioned in the diary of Valesio. It dates from the time of Pope St. Paul I (757-768), and stands in a niche above the altar. The figure is draped in a long tunic of a greyish-blue colour, is very lifelike, and has wide-open eyes. The soldier Longinus is in the act of wounding the side of Christ with the lance. On either hand are Mary and John; between them and the Cross stands a soldier with a sponge and a vessel filled with vinegar; above the Cross the sun and moon dim their rays.
Another interesting picture is that in the crypt of SS. Giovanni e Paolo at Rome, in their dwellinghouse on the Celian Hill. It is Byzantine in style and shows the crucifix. In the ninth century the crucifix of Leo IV is of importance (840-847). It is a stripped figure with a perizoma and four nails are used. A similar figure is in the paintings of S. Stefano alla Cappella. To the same century belongs a diptych from the monastery of Rambona of about the year 898, and now in the Vatican Library (Buonarroti, "Osservazioni sopra alcune frammenti di vetro", Florence, 1716, 257-283, and P. Germano da s. Stanislao, "La casa celimontana, dei SS. Giovanni e Paolo", Rome, 1895). To bring this list to a close we may mention an eleventh-century diptych in the cathedral of Tournai, a twelfth-century Roman cross preserved at the Porte de Halle, at Brussels, and an enameled crucifix in the Spitzer collection.
Here we bring our researches to an end, the field of Christian archæology not extending further. In the artistic treatment of the crucifix there are two periods: the first, which dates from the sixth to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; and the second, dating from that time to our own day. We shall here treat only of the former, touching lightly on the latter. In the first period the Crucified is shown adhering to the cross, not hanging forward from it; He is alive and shows no sign of physical suffering; He is clad in a long, flowing, sleaveless tunic (colobium), which reaches the knees. The head is erect, and surrounded by a nimbus, and bears a royal crown. The figure is fastened to the wood with four nails (cf. Garrucci, "Storia dell' arte crist.", III, fig. 139 and p. 61; Marucchi, op. cit., and "Il cimitero e la basilica di S. Valentino", Rome, 1890; Forrer and Müller, op. cit., 20, Pl, III, fig. 6). In a word, it is not Christ suffering, but Christ triumphing and glorious on the Cross. Moreover, Christian art for a long time objected to stripping Christ of his garments, and the traditional colobium, or tunic, remained until the ninth century. In the East the robed Christ was preserved to a much later date. Again in miniatures from the ninth century the figure is robed, and stands erect on the cross and on the suppedaneum.
The scene of the Crucifixion, especially after the eighth century, includes the presence of the two thieves, the centurion who pierced Christ's side, the soldier with the sponge, the Blessed Virgin and St. John. Mary is never shown weeping and afflicted, as became the custom in later ages, but standing erect near the cross, as St. Ambrose says, in his funeral oration on Valentinian: "I read of her standing; I do not read of her weeping." Moreover, on either side of the Cross the sun and the moon, often with human faces, veil their brightness, being placed there to typify the two natures of Christ, the sun, the Divine, and the moon, the human (cf. St. Gregory the Great, Homily ii in Evang.). At the foot of the Cross the female figures are symbolical of the Church and the Synagogue, the one receiving the Saviouir's blood in a cup, the other veiled and discrowned, holding in her hand a torn banner. With the tenth century realism began to play a part in Christian art, and the colobium becomes a shorter garment, reaching from the waist to the knees (perizoma). In the "Hortus deliciarum" in the "album" belonging to the Abbess Herrada of Landsberg in the twelfth the colobium is short, and approaches the form of the perizoma. From the eleventh century in the East, and from the Gothic period in the West, the head droops onto the breast (cf. Borgia, De Cruce Veliternâ, 191), the crown of thorns is introduced, the arms are bent back, the body is twisted, the face is wrung with agony, and blood flows from the wounds. In the thirteenth century complete realism is reached by the substitution of one nail in the feet, instead of two, as in the old tradition, and the resulting crossing of the legs. All this was done from artistic motives, to bring about a more moving and devotional pose. The living and triumphant Christ gives place to a Christ dead, in all the humiliation of His Passion, the agony of His death being even accentuated. This manner of treatment was afterwards generalized by the schools of Cimabue and Giotto. In conclusion it may be noted that the custom of placing the crucifix over the altar does not date from earlier than the eleventh century. (See CROSS AND CRUCIFIX IN LITURGY.)
On the crux gammata (swastika) on Christian monuments and its relation to similar signs on pre-Christian monuments in the East: MÜNTER. Sinnbilder der alten Christen, 73-85; LETRONNE. Annali dell' Istit. di Corr. Arch. (1843). 122; ROCHETTE, Mém. del' académie des inscriptions, pl. II, 302 sq.; MINERVINI, Bull. Arch. Nap., Ser. 2, II, 178, 179; CAVEDONI, Ragguaglio di due antichi cimiteri di Chiusi, 70; GARRUCCI, Vetri (2d ed.). 242, 243; MÜNZ, Archäologische Bemerkungen über das Kreuz, 25. 26.
Works of reference on the crucifix and its various forms in general: JUSTUS LIPSIUS, De Cruce libri tres (Antwerp, 1595); GRETSER, De Cruce Christi rebusque ad eam pertinentibus (Ingoldstadt, 1595-1605); BOSIUS, Cruz triumphans et gloriosa (Antwerp. 1617. folio); BARTHOLINUS, De Cruce Christi hypomnemata (Copenhagen, 1651): ALGER. History of the Cross (Boston, 1858); MÜNZ. Archäologische Bemerkungen über das Kreuz Christi (Frankfort, 1867); STOCKBAUER, Kunstgeschichte des Kreuzes (Schaffhausen, 1870); ZÖCKLER, Das Kreuz Christi (Gütersloh, 1875).
The Cross to which Christ had been nailed, and on which He had died, became for Christians, quite naturally and logically, the object of a special respect and worship. St. Paul says, in I Cor., i, 17: "For Christ sent me not to baptize; but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made void"; in Gal., ii, 19: "With Christ I am nailed to the cross"; in Eph., ii, 16: Christ . . . . "might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross"; in Phil., iii, 18: "For many walk . . . enemies of the cross of Christ"; in Col., ii, 14: "Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he hath taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross"; and in Gal., vi, 14: "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world".
It seems clear, therefore, that for St. Paul the Cross of Christ was not only a precious remembrance of Christ's sufferings and death, but also a symbol closely associated with His sacrifice and the mystery of the Passion. It was, moreover, natural that it should be venerated and become an object of a cult with the Christians who had been saved by it. Of such a cult in the Primitive Church we have definite and sufficiently numerous evidences. Tertullian meets the objection that Christians adore the cross by answering with an argumentum ad hominem, not by a denial. Another apologist, Minucius Felix, replies to the same objection. Lastly we may recall the famous caricature of Alexamenos, for which see the article Ass. From all this it appears that the pagans, without further consideration of the matter, believed that the Christians adored the cross; and that the apologists either answered indirectly, or contented themselves with saying that they do not adore the cross, without denying that a certain form of veneration was paid to it.
It is also an accepted belief that in the decorations of the catacombs there have been found, if not the cross itself, at least more or less veiled allusions to the holy symbol. A detailed treatment of this and other historical evidence for the early prevalence of the cult will be found in ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE CROSS AND CRUCIFIX.
This cult became more extensive than ever after the discovery of the Holy Places and of the True Cross. Since the time when Jerusalem had been laid waste and ruined in the wars of the Romans, especially since Hadrian had founded upon the ruins his colony of Ælia Capitolina, the places consecrated by the Passion, Death, and Burial of Christ had been profaned and, it would seem, deserted. Under Constantine, after peace had been vouchsafed to the Church, Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, caused excavations to be made (about A.D. 327, it is believed) in order to ascertain the location of these holy sites. That of Calvary was identified, as well as that of the Holy Sepulchre; it was in the course of these excavations that the wood of the Cross was recovered. It was recognized as authentic, and for it was built a chapel or oratory, which is mentioned by Eusebius, also by St. Cyril of Jerusalem, and Silvia (Etheria). From A.D. 347, that is to say, twenty years after these excavations, the same St. Cyril, in his discourses (or catecheses) delivered in these very places (iv, 10; x, 14; xiii, 4) speaks of this sacred wood. An inscription of A.D. 359, found at Tixter, in the neighbourhood of Sétif in Mauretania, mentions in an enumeration of relics, a fragment of the True Cross (Roman Miscellanies, X, 441). For a full discussion of the legend of St. Helena, see ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE CROSS AND CRUCIFIX; see also ST. HELENA. Silvia's recital (Peregrinatio Etheriae), which is of indisputable authenticity, tells how the sacred wood was venerated in Jerusalem about A.D. 380. On Good Friday, at eight o'clock in the morning, the faithful and the monks assemble in the chapel of the Cross (built on a, site hard by Calvary), and at this spot the ceremony of the adoration takes place. The bishop is seated on his chair; before him is a table covered with a cloth; the deacons are standing around him. The silver-gilt reliquary is brought and opened and the sacred wood of the Cross, with the Title, is placed on the table. The bishop stretches out his hand over the holy relic, and the deacons keep watch with him while the faithful and catechumens defile, one by one, before the table, bow, and kiss the Cross; they touch the Cross and the Title with forehead and eyes, but it is forbidden to touch them with the hands. This minute watchfulness was not unnecessary, for it has been told in fact how one day one of the faithful, making as though to kiss the Cross, was so unscrupulous as to bite off a piece of it, which he carried off as a relic. It is the duty of the deacons to prevent the repetition of such a crime. St. Cyril, who also tells of this ceremony, makes his account much more brief but adds the important detail, that relics of the True Cross have been distributed all over the world. He adds some information as to the silver reliquary which contained the True Cross. (See Cabrol, La Peregrinatio ad loca sancta, 105.) In several other passages of the same work Silvia (also called Egeria, Echeria, Eiheria, and Etheria) speaks to us of this chapel of the Cross (built between the basilicas of the Anastasis and the Martyrion) which plays so great a part in the paschal liturgy of Jerusalem.
A law of Theodosius and of Valentinian III (Cod. Justin., I, tit. vii) forbade under the gravest penalties any painting, carving, or engraving of the cross on pavements, so that this august sign of our salvation might not be trodden under foot. This law was revised by the Trullan Council, A.D. 691 (canon lxxii). Julian the Apostate, on the other hand, according to St. Cyril of Alexandria (Contra Julian., vi, in Opp., VI), made it a crime for Christians to adore the wood of the Cross, to trace its form upon their foreheads, and to engrave it over the entrances of their homes. St. John Chrysostom more than once in his writings makes allusion to the adoration of the cross; one citation will suffice: "Kings removing their diadems take up the cross, the symbol of their Saviour's death; on the purple, the cross; in their prayers, the cross; on their armour, the cross; on the holy table, the cross; throughout the universe, the cross. The cross shines brighter than the sun." These quotations from St. Chrysostom may be found in the authorities to be named at the end of this article. At the same time, pilgrimages to the holy places became more frequent, and especially for the purpose of following the example set by St. Helena in venerating the True Cross. Saint Jerome, describing the pilgrimage of St. Paula to the Holy Places, tells us that "prostrate before the Cross, she adored it as though she had seen the Saviour hanging upon it" (Ep. cviii). It is a remarkable fact that even the Iconoclasts, who fought with such zeal against images and representations in relief, made an exception in the case of the cross. Thus we find the image of the cross on the coins of the Iconoclastic emperors, Leo the Isaurian, Constantine Copronymus, Leo IV, Nicephorus, Michael II, and Theophilus (cf. Banduri, Numism. Imperat. Rom., II). Sometimes this cult involved abuses. Thus we are told of the Staurolaters, or those who adore the cross; the Chazingarii (from chazus, cross), a sect of Armenians who adore the cross. The Second Council of Nicæa (A.D. 787), held for the purpose of reforming abuses and putting an end to the disputes of Iconoclasm, fixed, once for all, the Catholic doctrine and discipline on this point. It defined that the veneration of the faithful was due to the form "of the precious and vivifying cross", as well as to images or representations of Christ, of the Blessed Virgin, and of the saints. But the council points out that we must not render to these objects the cult of latria, "which, according to the teaching of the faith, belongs to the Divine nature alone . . . . The honour paid to the image passes to the prototype; and he who adores the image, adores the person whom it represents. Thus the doctrine of our holy fathers obtains in all its force: the tradition of the Holy Catholic Church which from one end of the earth to the other has received the gospel." This decree was renewed at the Eighth cumenical Council at Constantinople, in 869 (can. iii). The council clearly distinguishes between the "salutation" (aspasmos) and "veneration" (proskynesis) due to the cross, and the "true adoration" (alethine latreia), which should not be paid to it. Theodore the Studite, the great adversary of the Iconoclasts, also makes a very exact distinction between the adoratio relativa (proskynesis schetike) and adoration properly so called.
II. CATHOLIC DOCTRINE ON THE VENERATION OF THE CROSS
In passing to a detailed examination of the Catholic doctrine on this subject of the cult due to the Cross, it will be well to notice the theories of Brock, the Abbé Ansault, le Mortillet, and others who pretend to have discovered that cult among the pagans before the time of Christ. For a demonstration of the purely Christian origin of the Christian devotion the reader is referred to ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE CROSS AND CRUCIFIX. See also the works of Harlay, Lafargue, and others cited at the end of this section. With reference, in particular, to the ansated cross of Egypt, Letronne, Raoul-Rochette, and Lajard discuss with much learning the symbolism of that simple hieroglyphic of life, in which the Christians of Egypt seem to have recognized an anticipatory revelation of the Christian Cross, and which they employed in their monuments. According to the text of the Second Council of Nicæa cited above, the cult of the Cross is based upon the same principles as that of relics and images in general, although, to be sure, the True Cross holds the highest place in dignity among all relics. The observation of Petavius (XV, xiii, 1) should be noted here: that this cult must be considered as not belonging to the substance of religion, but as being one of the adiaphora, or things not absolutely necessary to salvation. Indeed, while it is of faith that this cult is useful, lawful, even pious and worthy of praise and of encouragement, and while we are not permitted to speak against it as something pernicious, still it is one of those devotional practices which the church can encourage, or restrain, or stop, according to circumstances. This explains how the veneration of images was forbidden to the Jews by that text of Exodus (xx, 4 sqq.) which has been so grossly abused by Iconoclasts and Protestants: "Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them: I am the Lord thy God," etc. It also explains the fact that in the first ages of Christianity, when converts from paganism were so numerous, and the impression of idol-worship was so fresh, the Church found it advisable not to permit the development of this cult of images; but later, when that danger had disappeared, when Christian traditions and Christian instinct had gained strength, the cult developed more freely. Again, it should be noted that the cult of images and relics is not that of latria, which is the adoration due to God alone, but is, as the Second Council of Nicæa teaches, a relative veneration paid to the image or relic and referring to that which it represents. Precisely this same doctrine is repeated in Sess. XXV of the Council of Trent: "Images are not to be worshipped because it is believed that some divinity or power resides in them and that they must be worshipped on that account, or because we ought to ask anything of them, or because we should put our trust in them, as was done by the gentiles of old who placed their hope in idols but because the honour which is shown to them is referred to the prototypes which they represent; so that through the images which we kiss, and before which we kneel, we may adore Christ, and venerate the saints, whose resemblances they bear." (See also IMAGES.)
This clear doctrine, which cuts short every objection, is also that taught by Bellarmine, by Bossuet, and by Petavius. It must be said, however, that this view was not always so clearly taught. Following Bl. Albertus Magnus and Alexander of Hales, St. Bonaventure St. Thomas, and a, section of the Schoolmen who appear to have overlooked the Second Council of Nicæa teach that the worship rendered to the Cross and the image of Christ is that of latria, but with a distinction: the same worship is due to the image and its exemplar but the exemplar is honoured for Himself (or for itself), with an absolute worship; the image because of its exemplar, with a relative worship. The object of the adoration is the same, primary in regard to the exemplar and secondary in regard to the image. To the image of Christ, then, we owe a worship of latria as well as to His Person. The image, in fact, is morally one with its prototype, and, thus considered, if a lesser degree of worship be rendered to the image, that worship must reach the exemplar lessened in degree. Against this theory an attack has recently been made in "The Tablet", the opinion attributed to the Thomists being sharply combated. Its adversaries have endeavoured to prove that the image of Christ should be venerated but with a lesser degree of honour than its exemplar.
The cult paid to it, they say, is simply analogous to the cult of latria, but in its nature different and inferior. No image of Christ, then, should be honoured with the worship of latria, and, moreover, the term "relative latria", invented by the Thomists, ought to be banished from theological language as equivocal and dangerous.— Of these opinions the former rests chiefly upon consideration of pure reason, the latter upon ecclesiastical tradition, notably upon the Second Council of Nicæa and its confirmation by the Fourth Council of Constantinople and upon the decree of the Council of Trent.
III. RELICS OF THE TRUE CROSS
The testimony of Silvia (Etheria) proves how highly these relics were prized, while St. Cyril of Jerusalem, her contemporary, testifies as explicitly that "the whole inhabited earth is full of relics of the wood of the Cross". In 1889 two French archæologists, Letaille and Audollent, discovered in the district of Sétif an inscription of the year 359 in which, among other relics, is mentioned the sacred wood of the Cross (de ligno crucis et de terrâ promissionis ubi natus est Christus). Another inscription, from Rasgunia (Cape Matifu), somewhat earlier in date than the preceding, mentions another relic of the Cross ("sancto ligno salvatoris adlato".— See Duchesne in Acad. des inscr., Paris, 6 December, 1889; Morel, "Les missions catholiques", 25 March, 1890, p.156; Catech. iv in P. G., XXXIII, 469; cf. also ibid., 800; Procopius, "De Bello Persico", II, xi). St. John Chrysostom tells us that fragments of the True Cross are kept in golden reliquaries, which men reverently wear upon their persons.
The passage in the "Peregrinatio" which treats of this devotion has already been cited. St. Paulinus of Nola, some years later, sends to Sulpicius Severus a fragment of the True Cross with these words: "Receive a great gift in a little [compass]; and take, in [this] almost atomic segment of a short dart, an armament [against the perils] of the present and a pledge of everlasting safety" (Epist. xxxi, n.1. P. L., LXI, 325). About 455 Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem, sends to Pope St. Leo a fragment of the precious wood (S. Leonis Epist. cxxxix, P. L., LIV, 1108). The "Liber Pontificalis", if we are to accept the authenticity of its statement, tells us that, in the pontificate of St. Sylvester, Constantine presented to the Sessorian basilica (Santa Croce in Gerusalemme) in Rome a portion of the True Cross (Duchesne Liber Pontif., I, 80; cf. 78, 178, 179, 195). Later, under St. Hilary (461-68) and under Symmachus (498-514) we are again told that fragments of the True Cross are enclosed in altars (op. cit., I, 242 sq. and 261 sq.). About the year 500 Avitus, Bishop of Vienne, asks for a portion of the Cross from the Patriarch of Jerusalem (P.L., LIX, 236, 239).
It is known that Radegunda, Queen of the Franks, having retired to Poitiers, obtained from the Emperor Justin II, in 569, a remarkable relic of the True Cross. A solemn feast was celebrated on this occasion, and the monastery founded by the queen at Poitiers received from that moment the name of Holy Cross. It was also upon this occasion that Venantius Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitiers, and a celebrated poet of the period, composed the hymn "Vexilla Regis" which is still sung at feasts of the Cross in the Latin Rite. St. Gregory I sent, a little later, a portion of the Cross to Theodolinda, Queen of the Lombards (Ep. xiv, 12), and another to Recared, the first Catholic King of Spain (Ep. ix, 122). In 690, under Sergius I, a casket was found containing a relic of the True Cross which had been sent to John III (560-74) by the Emperor Justin II (cf. Borgia, "De Cruce Vaticanâ",Rome, 1779, p. 63, and Duchesne, "Liber Pontificalis", I, 374, 378). We will not give in detail the history of other relics of the Cross (see the works of Gretser and the articles of Kraus and Bäumer quoted in the bibliography). The work of Rohault de Fleury, "Mémoire sur les instruments de la Passion" (Paris, 1870), deserves more prolonged attention; its author has sought out with great care and learning all the relics of the True Cross, drawn up a catalogue of them, and, thanks to this labour, he has succeeded in showing that, in spite of what various Protestant or Rationalistic authors have pretended, the fragments of the Cross brought together again would not only not "be comparable in bulk to a battleship", but would not reach one-third that of a cross which has been supposed to have been three or four metres in height, with transverse branch of two metres (see above; under I), proportions not at all abnormal (op. cit., 97-179). Here is the the calculation of this savant: Supposing the Cross to have been of pine-wood, as is believed by the savants who have made a special study of the subject, and giving it a weight of about seventy-five kilograms, we find that the volume of this cross was 178,000,000 cubic millimetres. Now the total known volume of the True Cross, according to the finding of M. Rohault de Fleury, amounts to above 4,000 000 cubic millimetres, allowing the missing part to be as big as we will, the lost parts or the parts the existence of which has been overlooked, we still find ourselves far short of 178,000,000 cubic millimetres, which should make up the True Cross.
IV. PRINCIPAL FEASTS OF THE CROSS
The Feast of the Cross like so many other liturgical feasts, had its origin at Jerusalem, and is connected with the commemoration of the Finding of the Cross and the building, by Constantine, of churches upon the sites of the Holy Sepulchre and Calvary. In 335 the dedication of these churches was celebrated with great solemnity by the bishops who had assisted at the Council of Tyre, and a great number of other bishops. This dedication took place on the 13th and 14th of September. This feast of the dedication, which was known by the name of the Encnia, was most solemn; it was on an equal footing with those of the Epiphany and Easter. The description of it should be read m the "Peregrinatio", which is of great value upon this subject of liturgical origins. This solemnity attracted to Jerusalem a great number of monks, from Mesopotamia, from Syria, from Egypt, from the Thebaïd, and from other provinces, besides laity of both sexes. Not fewer than forty or fifty bishops would journey from their dioceses to be present at Jerusalem for the event. The feast was considered as of obligation, "and he thinks himself guilty of a grave sin who during this period does not attend the great solemnity". It lasted eight days. In Jerusalem, then, this feast bore an entirely local character. It passed, like so many other feasts, to Constantinople and thence to Rome. There was also an endeavour to give it a local feeling, and the church of "The Holy Cross in Jerusalem" as intended, as its name indicates, to recall the memory of the church at Jerusalem bearing the same dedication.
The feast of the Exaltation of the Cross sprang into existence at Rome at the end of the seventh century. Allusion is made to it during the pontificate of Sergius I (687-701) but, as Dom Bäumer observes, the very terms of the text (Lib. Pontif., I, 374, 378) show that the feast already existed. It is, then, inexact, as has often been pointed out, to attribute the introduction of it to this pope. The Gallican churches, which, at the period here referred to, do not yet know of this feast of the 14th September, have another on the 3rd of May of the same signification. It seems to have been introduced there in the seventh century, for ancient Gallican documents, such as the Lectionary of Luxeuil, do not mention it; Gregory of Tours also seems to ignore it. According to Mgr. Duchesne, the date seems to have been borrowed from the legend of the Finding of the Holy Cross (Lib. Pontif., I, p. cviii). Later, when the Gallican and Roman Liturgies were combined, a distinct character was given to each feast, so as to avoid sacrificing either. The 3rd of May was called the feast of the Invention of the Cross, and it commemorated in a special manner Saint Helena's discovery of the sacred wood of the Cross; the 14th of September, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, commemorated above all the circumstances in which Heraclius recovered from the Persians the True Cross, which they had carried off. Nevertheless, it appears from the history of the two feasts, which we have just examined, that that of the 13th and 14th of September is the older, and that the commemoration of the Finding of the Cross was at first combined with it.
The Good Friday ceremony of the Adoration of the Cross also had its origin in Jerusalem, as we have seen, and is a faithful reproduction of the rites of Adoration of the Cross of the fourth century in Jerusalem which have been described above, in accordance with the description of the author of the "Peregrinatio". This worship paid to the Cross in Jerusalem on Good Friday soon became general. Gregory of Tours speaks of the Wednesday and Friday consecrated the Cross-probably the Wednesday and Friday of Holy Week. (Cf. Greg., De Gloriâ Mart. I, v.) The most ancient adoration of the Cross in Church is described in the "Ordo Romanus" generally attributed to Saint Gregory. It is performed, according to this "Ordo", just as it is nowadays, after a series of responsory prayers. The cross is prepared before the altar; priests, deacons, subdeacons, clerics of the inferior grades, and lastly the people, each one comes in his turn; they salute the cross, during the singing of the anthem, "Ecce lignum crucis in quo salus mundi pependit. Venite, adoremus" (Behold the wood of the cross on which the salvation of the world did hang. Come, let us adore) and then Ps. cxviii. (See Mabillon, Mus. Ital., Paris, 1689, II, 23.) The Latin Church has kept until to-day the same liturgical features in the ceremony of Good Friday, added to it is the song of the Improperia and the hymn of the Cross, "Pange, lingua, gloriosi lauream certaminis".
Besides the Adoration of the Cross on Good Friday and the September feast, the Greeks have still another feast of the Adoration of the Cross on the 1st of August as well as on the third Sunday in Lent. It is probable that Gregory the Great was acquainted with this feast during his stay in Constantinople, and that the station of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, on Lætare Sunday (the fourth Sunday in Lent), is a souvenir, or a timid effort at imitation, of the Byzantine solemnity.
On the theology of the subject, ST. THOMAS, Summa Theot., III, Q. xxv, aa. 3 and 4, with which cf. Idolatry, the controversy in The Tablet from 22 June to 21 Sept., 1907. PETAVIUS, De Incarnat. XV, xv-xviii; BELLARMINE, De Imaginibus Sanctorum, II, xxiv; THEODORE THE STUDITE, Adv. Iconomachos in P.G., XCIX. For the controversy in the time of Charlemagne, GONDI OF ORLÉANS, De Cultu Imaginum. P. L.. CVI, 305 sq.,; DUNGAL, Liber adversus Claudium Taurinensem, P. L., CV, 457 sq.; AMALARIUS, Des officiis eccls,. I, xvi, P. L., CV, 1028 sq.; PSEUDO-ALCUIN, Officia et Oratt. de Cruce, P.L., CI, 1207 sq.; RABANUS MAURUS, De Laudibus S. Crucis, P L. CVII, 133; SCOTUS ERIUGENA, De Christo Crucifixo, P.L,. CXLI, 345.
On the cult of the cross in pre-Christian times: BROCK, The Cross, Heathen and Christian (London, 1880). criticized by DE HARLEY in Dict.. apol. de la foi catholique (Paris, 1891), 670-678; DE HARLEY, Prétendue origine païenne de la Croix in La Controverse (1882) IV, 705-32; cf. La Croix et le Crucifix, ibid. (1887), IX. 386-404, and La croix chez les Chinois, ibid. (1886), VII, 589; BRING-MOUTON, De Notâ Christianismi Ambiguâ Cruce (London, l745); SAINT FÉLIX-MAUREMONT, De la croix considérée comme signe hiéroglyphique d'adoration et de salut in Bullelin de la soc. archéol. du midi de la France (1836-37), III, 183, LAJARD, Observations sur l'origine et la signification du symbole appelé la croiz ansée in Mémoires de l'acad. des inscr. (1846); RAPP, Das Labarum u. der Sonnencultus in Jahrb. (Bonn, 1866), XXXIX, XL; MÜLLER, Ueber Sterne, Kreuze, u. Kränze als religiöse Symbole der alten Kulturvölker (Copenhagen, 1865); MORTILLET, Le signe de la croix avant le christianisme (Paris, 1886)-cf. Nuova Antologia (1867), 797, 805, and Revue Celtique (1866), 297; VERTUS, Du culte de la croix avant J.-C. in Annuaire de la Soc. Hist. Archéol, de Château-Thierry (1873, 1874) IX, 135-194; BUNSEN, Das Symbol des Kreuzes bei alten Nationen u. die Entstehung des Kreuz-Symbo's des christlichen Kirche (Berlin, 1876); HOCHART, Le symbole de la croix in Ann. de la fac. litt. de Bordeaux (1886); ROBIOU, Observations sur les signes hiéroglyphiques qui peuvent rappeler la figure de la Croix in Science cath. (1890), IV 465-471; ANSAULT, Le culte de la croix avant J.-C. (Paris, 1889); ID., Mémoire sur le culte de la croix avant J.-C. (Paris, 1891); LAFARGUE, Le culte de la croix avant J.-C. in Rev. cath. De Bordeaux (1891). XIII, 321-330; Pre-Christian Cross in Ed. Rev. (1870) CXXXI, 222; MEYER. Die Gesch. des Kreuzholzes von Christus in Abhandl. philos.-philol. bayer. Akad. (1882), XVI, 101, 116.
On crosses in general: BORGIA, De Cruce Vaticanâ (Rome, 1774); ID., De Cruce Veliternâ (Rome, 1780); GRETSER, De Cruce Christi (2 vols. 40, Ingoldstadt, 1600 and 4th ed. of the same enlarged. in Opp. Omnia (1618); BOSIO, Crux triumphans et Gloriosa (Antwerp, 1617); DECKER, De Staurolatriâ Romanâ (Hanover, 1617); BASILIUS, De Veterum Christianorum Ritibus (Rome, 1647); SCHLICHTER, De Cruce apud Judæus, Christianos et Gentiles signo Salutis (Halle,1732); ZACCARIA, Dissert. de Inventione S. Crucis in GORI, Symbol. Litt., X, 65 sq.; PAPEBROCHI, De Inventione S. Crucis in Acta SS., 3 May, i sqq; LIPSIUS, De Cruce libri 111 (40, Antwerp, 1593); ZÖCKLER, Das Kreuz Christi (Gütersloh, 1775); ZIEGELBAUER, Historia didactica de S. Crucis Cultu et Veneratione in Ord. D. Benedicti (Vienna, 1746); WISEMAN, Four Lectures on the Offices and Ceremonies of Holy Week (London, 1839) 11-114; HOUSSAYE, Les cérémonies de la Semaine Saint . . . culte de la croix in Rev. Des Questions Historiques (1878), XXIII, 472 sq.; The Sign of the Cross in the Early Church in The Dub. Rev. (1851), XX, 113; BERNARDAKIS, Le culte de la Croix in chez les Grecs in Echos d'Orient (1902), 193-202; REVIUS, De cultu Crucis (Leyden, 1851); ALGER, History of the Cross (Boston, 1858); BERJEAU, History of the Cross (London, 1863); ROHAULT DE FLEURY, Mémoires sur les instruments de la passion (Paris, 1870); NESTLE, De Sanctâ Cruce (Berlin, 1889).
On the Finding of the Cross in particular: PAPEBROCH in Acta SS., 3 May; CABROL, Etude sur la Peregrinatio Silviæ (Paris, 1895) 103-105; HOLDEN, Inventio S. Crucis (Leipzig, 1889); COMBS, tr. By LUIGI CAPPADELTA, The Finding of the Cross (London, 1907); STALEY, The Liturgical Year, an Explanation of the Origin, History and Significance of the Festival Days and Fasting Days of the English Church (London, 1907), 101-103; DUCHESNE, tr. McClure, Christian Worship (London, 1904), 274 sq., and cf. ID. Liber Pontificalis, I, 374, 378; FEASEY, Ancient English Holy Week Ceremonial (London, 1897), 114 sq.
See also BÄUMER in Kirchlex., s. vv. Kreuz, Kreuzerfindung, Kreuzpartikel; MARRUCHI, in Dict. de la Bible, s.v. Croix; SCHULTE in Realencyk für prot. Theol., s. vv. Kreuz u. Kreuzigung, Kreuzauffindung, Kreuzeszeichen.
For Additional bibliography see BÄUMER and above all CHEVALIER, Topo.-Bibl., s.v. Croix.
III. CROSS AND CRUCIFIX IN LITURGY
I. MATERIAL OBJECTS IN LITURGICAL USE
A. The Altar-Cross
As a permanent adjunct to the altar, the cross or crucifix can hardly be traced farther back than the thirteenth century. The third canon of the Second Council of Tours (567), "ut corpus Domini in altario non in imaginario ordine sed sub crucis titulo componatur", which has sometimes been appealed to prove the early existence of an altar-cross, almost certainly refers to the arrangement of the particles of the Host upon the corporal. They were to be arranged in the form of a cross and not according to any fanciful idea, of the celebrant (see Hefele, Conciliengeschichte). On the other hand, Innocent III at the beginning of the thirteenth century in his treatise on thee Mass says plainly, "a cross is set upon the altar, in the middle between two candlesticks", but even this probably refers only to the actual duration of the Holy Sacrifice.. From the ninth to the eleventh century the rule is several times repeated: "Let nothing be placed on the altar except a chest with relics of saints or perhaps the four gospels or a pyx with the Lord's Body for the viaticum of the sick (cf. Thiers, Sur les principaux autels des églises, 129 sqq.). This no doubt was understood to exclude even the crucifix from the altar, and it is certain that in various liturgical ivory carvings of the eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries no cross is shown. At the same time it should be noted that the ciborium, or canopy over the altar, was often surmounted by a plain cross, and also that the coronæ, or ornamental circular frames which were suspended from the inner side of the ciborium, frequently had a cross hanging down in their midst. Some auch coronæ are explicitly referred to in the "Liber Pontificalis" during the ninth century. The best-known existing example is the corona of
Recesvinthus now at the Musée de Cluny, Paris, in which the pendent cross is set with large gems. The papal chronicle just referred to also mentions a silver cross which was erected not over, but close beside, the high altar of St. Peter's in the time of Leo III (795-816): "'There also he made the cross of purest silver, gilded, which stands beside the high altar, and which weighs 22 pounds" (Lib. Pont., Leo III, c. lxxxvii). It is probable that when the cross was first introduced as an ornament for the altar it was most commonly plain and without any figure of Our Saviour. Such is the cross which a well-known Anglo-Saxon manuscript represents King Cnut as presenting to Hyde Abbey, Winchester. But the association of the figure of Christ with the cross was familiar in England as early as 678, when Benedict Biscop brought a painting of the Crucifixion from Rome (Bede, Hist. Abb., §99), and we can hardly doubt that a people capable of producing such sculptural work as the stone crosses at Ruthwell and Bewcastle, or the Franks' casket, would soon have attempted the same subject in the solid. We know at any rate that a gold crucifix was found in the tomb of St. Edward the Confessor, and a crucifix is mentioned in one of the later Lives of St. Dunstan. That such objects were sometimes used for the altar seems highly probable.
Still, Innocent III speaks only of a cross, and it is certain that for several centuries later neither cross nor crucifix were left upon the altar except at Mass time. Even so late as the beginning of the sixteenth century an engraving in the Guinta "Corpus Juris" shows the altar-crucifix being carried in at High Mass by the celebrant, while in many French dioceses this or some similar custom lasted down to the time of Claude de Vert (Explication, IV, 31). At present the Cæremoniale Episcoporum assumes the permanency of the crucifix on the altar, with its attendant candlesticks [see ALTAR-CRUCIFIX, under ALTAR (IN LITURGY)].
B. The Processional Cross
When Bede tells us that St. Augustine of England and his companions came before Ethelbert "carrying a silver cross for a standard" (veniebant crucem pro vexillo ferentes argenteam) while they said the litanies, he probably touched upon the fundamental idea of the processional cross. Its use seems to have been general in early times and it is so mentioned in the Roman "Ordines" as to suggest that one belonged to each church. An interesting specimen of the twelfth century still survives in the Cross of Cong, preserved in the museum of the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin. This is made of oak covered with copper plates, but much decoration is added in the form of gold filigreework. It lacks most of the shaft, but is two feet six inches high, and one foot six inches across the arms. In the centre is a boss of rock crystal, which formerly enshrined a relic of the True Cross, and an inscription tells us that it was made for Turloch O'Conor, King of Ireland (1123). It seems never to have had any figure of Christ, but other processional crosses of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries are for the most part true crucifixes. In a great number of cases the shaft was removable, and the upper portion could be set in a stand to be used as an altar-cross. Indeed it seems not impossible that this was the actual origin of the altar-cross employed during Mass (Rohault de Fleury, La Meese, V, 123-140). Just as the seven candlesticks carried before the pope in Rome were deposited before or behind the altar, and probably developed into the six altar-candlesticks (seven, it will be remembered, when a bishop celebrates) with which we are now familiar, so the processional cross seems also to have first been left in a stand near the altar and ultimately to have taken its place upon the altar itself. To this day the ritual books of the Church seem to assume that the handle of the processional cross is detachable, for in the funeral of infants it is laid down that the cross is to be carried without its handle. All Christians are supposed to be the followers of Christ, hence in procession the crucifix is carried first, with the figure turned in the direction in which the procession is moving.
C. Archiepiscopal and Papal Cross
It is not easy to determine with certainty at what period the archiepiscopal cross came into separate use. It was probably at first only an ordinary processional cross. In the tenth "Ordo Romanus" we read of a subdeacon who is set aside to carry the crux papalis. If this specially papal cross had been in existence for some time it is likely that it was imitated by patriarchs and metropolitans as a mark of dignity which went with the pallium. In the twelfth century the archbishop's cross was generally recognized, and in the dispute regarding the primacy between the Archbishops of Canterbury and York the right to carry their cross before them played a prominent part. In 1125 Pope Honorius II admonished the Southern bishops of England that they should allow Archbishop Thurstan of York crucem ante se deferre juxta antiquam consuetudiem. In all ecclesiastical functions archbishop in his own province has a right tn be preceded by his cross-bearer with cross displayed. Hence an archbishop when solemnly giving his blessing gives it with head uncovered out of reverence for the cross which is held before him. An ordinary bishop, who is not privileged to have such a cross, blesses the people with his mitre on. As regards form, both the papal and the archiepiscopal cross consists in practice of a simple crucifix mounted upon a staff, the material being silver or silver gilt. The crosses with double and triple bars, which are sometimes termed distinctively archiepiscopal, patriarchal, or papal crosses, have for the most part only a heraldic existence (see Barbier de Montault, La croix à deux croisillons, 1883). An archiepiscopal cross is borne with the figure turned towards the archbishop.
D. Pectoral Crosses
These objects seem originally to have been little more than costly ornaments upon which much artistic skill was lavished and which usually contained relics. A jewel of this kind which belonged to Queen Theodelinda at the end of the sixth century is still preserved in the treasury of Monza. .Another of much later date, but wrought with wonderful enamels, was found in the tomb of Queen Dagmar and is at Copenhagen. When the present Queen Alexandra came to England in 1863 to marry the then Prince of Wales, she was presented with a facsimile of this jewel containing, among other relics, a fragment of the True Cross. Such encolpia were probably at first worn by bishops not as insignia of rank, but as objects of devotion. For example, a famous and beautiful jewel of this kind was found in the tomb of St. Cuthbert and is now at Durham. When they contained relics they often came later on to be enclosed in processional crosses. This no doubt was the case with the Cross of Cong, mentioned above, upon which we read in Irish characters the Latin verse: Hac cruce crux tegitur qua passus conditor orbis.- See Journ. Soc. Antiq. Ireland, vol. XXXI (1901). As a liturgical cross, and part of the ordinary episcopal insignia, the pectoral cross is of quite modern date. No word is said regarding it in the first edition of the "Cæremoniale Episcoporum" of 1600, but later editions speak of it, and its liturgical character is fully recognized by all modern rubricians. It is worn bishops at Mass and solemn functions, and also forms part of their ordinary walking-dress. It is usually a plain Latin cross of gold suspended round the neck by a gold chain or a cord of silk and gold. Its use seems gradually to have been introduced during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in imitation of the pectoral cross which we know to have been regularly worn by the popes from a much earlier date. Certain metropolitans (e. g. the Patriarch of Lisbon and the Archbishop of Armagh) are accustomed to wear a cross with two bars or transoms (Anal. Jur. Pont., 1896, 344). The privilege of wearing a pectoral cross has also been conceded to certain canons.
E. Consecration Crosses
These are the twelve crosses, usually merely painted on the wall, which mark the places where the church walls have been anointed with chrism in a properly consecrated church. A candle-bracket should be inserted immediately below. Some of these consecration crosses are even yet distinguishable on the walls of old churches which go back to the Romanesque period. The Carlovingian oratory in Nimeguen preserves, perhaps, the most ancient known example. In other cases e. g. at Fürstenfeld, some of the old Romanesque candle- brackets also remain. Owing to the number of unctions, it was not infrequently the custom to place these consecration crosses on shields, each borne by one of the twelve Apostles. In the Sainte Chapelle at Paris, built by St. Louis in the thirteenth century, we find twelve statues of the Apostles carrying discs cases, used for this purpose. In England it was the custom to mark twelve consecration crosses on the outside walls of the church as well as twelve on the inside. The Roman Pontifical only prescribes the latter. (See CONSECRATION.) Salisbury cathedral still preserves some remarkable examples of consecration crosses. At Ottery St. Mary, Devon, the old crosses are carved in high relief on shields borne by angels within moulded panels, a quatrefoil in a square. Those inside have marks of the remains of iron brackets for candles or a lamp. (See, on English examples, Middleton in "Archæologia", XLVIII, 1885.)
F. Churchyard or Monumental Crosses
In the contemporary life of St. Willibald (born c. 700) we have a significant mention of the Anglo-Saxon custom of erecting a cross instead of a church as a rendezvous for prayer. Many ancient stone crosses still surviving in England are probably witnesses to the practice, and the conjecture of Prof. Baldwin Browne (Arts in Anglo-Saxon England), that the cross and graveyard often preceded the church in date, has much to recommend it. Certain it is that the earliest known forms for blessing a cemetery (q. v.) contain five blessings pronounced at the four points of the compass one in the centre, thus forming a cross, while crosses were later on planted in the ground at each of these places. Throughout the Middle Ages, both in England and on the Continent, there seems always to have been one principal churchyard cross. This was commonly an object of great importance in the Palm Sunday procession when it was saluted with prostrations or gunuflexions by the whole assembly. There was also a scattering of boughs and flowers, and the cross was often decorated with garlands or box. For this reason it was often called crux buxata (cf. Gasquet, Parish Life, 1906, pp. 171-4). Many beautiful churchyard crosses are still preserved in England, France, and Germany; the most remarkable English examples being perhaps those of Ampney Crucis, near Cirencester, and Bag Enderby, Lincolnshire. The famous ancient Northumbrian crosses at Bewcastle and Ruthwell (which English scholars still assign to the seventh and eighth centuries, despite the plea for a much later date put forward by Prof. A. S. Cook of Yale) may possibly have been principal churchyard crosses. The fact that they were probably memorial crosses as well does not exclude this.
When St. Aldhelm died in 709, his body had to be transported fifty miles to Malmesbury, and at each stage of seven miles, where the body rested for the night, a cross was afterwards erected. These crosses were still standing in the twelfth century (William of Malmesbury, Gesta Pont., 383). An even more famous example of such memorial crosses, but of much later date, is supplied by the removal of the body of Eleanor, Queen of Edward I, from Lincoln to London. Several of these crosses in a more or less mutilated form exist at the present day. The most famous of the series, however, Charing (? Chère Reine) Cross in London, is a modern reconstruction. The route followed by the body of St. Louis of France on its way to St. Denis was similarly honoured, and it seems probable that a large number of wayside crosses originated in this manner. No stronger testimony of the early connection of the cross with the cemetery could be desired than the directions given by St. Cuthbert for his own burial: "Cum autem Deus susceperit animam meam, sepelite me in hâc mansione juxta oratorium meum ad meridiem, contra orientalem plagam sanctæ crucis quam ibidem erexi" (Bede, Vita S. Cuthberti).
G. Rood, Rood-Screen, and Rood-Loft
From very early times it seems to have been not unusual to introduce a plain cross in such a way into the mosaics of the apse or of the main arch (Truimphbogen) as to dominate the church. Notable examples may be found at S. Apollinare in Classe at Ravenna, at S. Pudenziana in Rome, and at the Lateran basilica. There are also, as already noticed, incontestable examples both of crosses surmounting the ciborium over the altar, and of the large crosses suspended, with or without a corona, from the under side of the ciborium. It must, however, be pronounced very doubtful whether the rood, which in so many churches of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries occupied the great arch, can be regarded as a development of this idea. This point will be more fully treated under ROOD-SCREEN. It will be sufficient to notice here that in the thirteenth century a practice grew up of screening off the choir from the nave of the greater churches by a structure broad enough to admit a narrow bridge or gallery spanning the chancel arch and most commonly adorned by a great crucifix with the figures of Our Lady and St. John. The rood-loft of the cathedral of Sens, as described by J. B. Thiers (Traité sur les jubés) affords a valuable hint of how this process was effected. It consisted, he tells us, of two stone pulpits quite separate from each other, supported by columns, and with a crucifix between them, each having an entrance on the choir side and an exit down into the nave, on either side of the principal door of the choir. From this it seems probable that the two ambos (q. v.) from which the Gospel and Epistle were sung in earlier times became gradually connected by a continuous gallery upon which was erected a great crucifix, and that in this way we may trace the development of the rood-loft, or jubé, which was so conspicuous a feature in later medieval architecture. There can at least be no doubt that this loft was used on certain occasions of ceremony for reading the Epistle and Gospel and for making announcements to the people. The great rood above the rood-screen was saluted by the whole procession, as they re-entered the church on Palm Sunday, with the words: Ave Rex noster.
H. Absolution Crosses
These have already been spoken of in the article CHRISTIAN BURIAL. They seem for the most part to have been rude crosses of lead laid upon the breast of the corpse. It is only in some few examples, of which the most important is that of Bishop Godfrey of Chichester (1088), that a formula of absolution is found inscribed upon them entire. We may infer that the practice in the West was always in some measure irregular, and it is only the absolution paper which is uniformly placed in the hand or on the breast of the corpse in the Eastern Church, which explains them and gives them a certain imporance as a liturgical development.
J. Crosses on Vestments, etc.
Rubrical law now requires that most of the vestments, as well as some other objects more immediately devoted to the service of the altar, should be marked with cross. Speaking generally this is a comparatively modern development. For example, the great majority of stoles and maniples of the Middle Ages do not exhibit this feature. At the same time Dr. Wickham Legg goes much too far when he says without qualification that such crosses were not used in pre-Reformation times. For example the stole of St. Thomas of Canterbury preserved at Sens has three crosses, one in the middle end one at each extremity, just as a modern stole would have. That the archiepiscopal pallium, like the Greek (see RITE OF CONSTANTINOPLE) was always marked with crosses, is not disputed. The large cross conspicuous upon most modern chasubles, which appears behind in the French type and in front in the Roman, does not seem to have been originally adopted with any symbolic purpose. It probably came into existence accidentally for sartorial reasons, the orphreys having been so arranged in a sort of Y-cross to conceal the seams. But the idea, once suggested to the eye, was retained, and various symbolical reasons were found for it. In somewhat of the same way a cross was marked in the Missal before the Canon. and this the priest was directed to kiss when beginning this portion of the Mass; probably this cross first arose from an illumination of the initial T, in the words: Te igitur clementissime Pater. As Innocent III writes, "Et forte divinâ factum est providentiâ ut ab eâ literâ T [tau] canon inciperet quæ sui formâ signum crucis ostendit et exprimit in figurâ"; and Beleth further comments, "Unde profecto est, quod istic crucis imago adpingi debeat" (See Ebner, Quellen und Forschungen, 445 sqq.). The tradition is perpetuated in the picture of the Crucifixion which precedes the Canon in every modern Missal. The five crosses commonly marked on altar-atones depend closely on the rite of the consecration of an altar.
K. Crosses for Private Devotion
These may all be held to wear a liturgical aspect in so far as the Church, in the "Rituale," provides a form for their blessing, and presupposes that such a cross should be placed in the hands of the dying. The crosses which surmount the Stations of the Cross, and to which the Indulgences are directly attached may also be noticed. In the Greek Church a little wooden cross is used for the blessing of holy water, and is dipped into it in the course of the ceremony.
II. LITURGICAL FORMS CONNECTED WITH THE MATERIAL OBJECTS
A. Blessing of Consecration Crosses
The "Pontificale Romanum" directs that towards the close of the dedication ceremony the twelve consecration crosses previously marked upon the walls of the church, three upon each wall, are to be each anointed by the bishop with chrism, the following form of words being spoken over each: "May this Temple be hallowed + and consecrated + in the name of the Father + and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost + in honour of God and the glorious Virgin Mary and of all the Saints, to the name and memory of Saint N. Peace be to thee." This is prescribed in practically identical terms in English pontificals of the tenth century; and the Pontifical of Egbert (? 768) describes the anointing of the walls, though it does not give the words or the form. What is more, an analogous ceremony must have existed in the Celtic Church from a very early date, for a liturgical fragment in the Leabar Breac describes how the bishop with two priests is to go round the outside of the church marking crosses upon the "tel-columns" with his knife, while the three other priests do the same within (see Olden in "Trans. St. Paul's Eccles. Soc.", IV, 103). In this case, however, the use of chrism is not mentioned. From this Celtic practice the Anglo-Saxon and Sarum uses seem to have derived the custom of affixing consecration crosses outside the church as well as within.
B. Consecration of the Altar
In the consecration of an altar, also, crosses are to be marked in chrism upon the altar-slab with almost the same form of words as that used for the walls. This practice may equally claim Celtic analogues, whose antiquity is shown by the fact that the altar to be consecrated must have been of wood. The Tract in the "Leabar Breac" says: "The bishop marks four crosses with his knife on the four corners of the altar, and he marks three crosses over the middle of the altar, a cross over the middle on the east to the edge, and a cross over the middle on the west to the edge, and a cross exactly over the middle." This makes seven crosses, but the Roman usage for many centuries has provided five only.
C. Pontifical Blessings of Crosses
The consecration crosses on the walls of churches and on altars are clearly not substantive and independent objects of cultus; the blessing they receive is only a detail in a longer ceremony. But the "Pontificale Romanum" supplies a solemn form of episcopal blessing for a cross, under the title, Benedictio novæ Crucis, which, besides containing several prayers of considerable length, includes a consecratory preface and is accompanied with the use of incense. At the conclusion of the ceremony we find the rubric: "Tum Pontifex, flexis ante crucem genibus, ipsam devote adorat et osculatur." This rite is of great antiquity, and many of the prayers occur in identical terms in pontificals of the tenth century or earlier, e. g. in the Benedictional of Archbishop Robert (Henry Bradshaw Soc.). But in the ancient ceremony the cross was first washed with holy water and then anointed with chrism precisely as in the form for the blessing of bells (see BELLS). For cemetery crosses in this connection, see CEMETERY.
D. Blessings of Crosses in the Ritual
The "Rituale Romanum" (tit. VIII, cap. xxiv) supplies an ordinary blessing for a cross which may be used by any priest. It consists only of a short prayer, with a second prayer whose use is optional, and only holy water is used; but the same rubric directing the priest to kneel and "devoutly adore and kiss the cross" is added, which we have just noticed in the solemn episcopal benediction. Furthermore, the Ritual, in an appendix, reprints the longer form from the Pontifical under the heading: "Benedictiones reservatæ, ab episcopo vel sacerdotibus facultatem habentibus faciendæ". It may be noted that St. Louis, King of France, regarded it as unseemly that crosses and statues should be set up for veneration without being previously blessed. He accordingly ordered search to be made for a form of blessing in the ancient episcopal ceremonials. The form was found and duly used first of all in St. Louis' own private chapel; but the incident seems to suggest that the practice of blessing such objects had partly fallen into desuetude. (See Galfridus, De Bello Loco, cap. xxxvi.)
E. Blessings of Crosses for Indulgences etc.
The indulgences most commonly attached to crosses, crucifixes, etc., are: first, the so-called "Apostolic Indulgences", which are the same as those attached to objects blessed by the Holy Father in person. These are numerous and, amongst other things, entitle the possessor who has habitually worn or used such a cross to a plenary indulgence at the hour of death; secondly, the indulgences of the Stations of the Cross, which under certain conditions may be gained by the sick and others unable to visit a church upon the recitation of twenty Paters, Aves, and Glorias before the indulgenced cross which they must hold in their hand; thirdly, the so-called "Bona Mors" indulgence for the use of priests, enabling the priest by the use of this cross to communicate a plenary indulgence to any dying person who is in the requisite dispositions to receive it; Special faculties are needed to communicate such indulgences to crosses, etc., though in the case of the "Apostolic Indulgences" these faculties are easily obtained. The only blessing required is the making of a simple sign of the cross over the crucifix or other object with the intention of imparting the indulgence. For further details, the reader must be referred to the article INDULGENCES and to such treatises upon indulgences as those of Beringer, "Les Indulgences" or of Mocchegiani, "Collectio Indulgentiarum" (Quaracchi, 1897). (See also BLESSINGS.)
III. FESTIVALS OF THE HOLY CROSS
A. The Invention of the Holy Cross.—This is now kept by the Western Church upon 3 May, but so far as our somewhat uncertain data allow us to judge, the real date of St.Helena's discovery was 14 September, 326. Upon this same day, 14 September, took place the dedication of Constantine's two churches, that of the Anastasis and that of Golgotha Ad Crucem, both upon Calvary, within the precincts of the present church of the Holy Sepulchre. The portion of the Holy Cross preserved in Jerusalem afterwards fell into the hands of the Persians, but was recovered by the Emperor Heraclius, and, if we may trust our authorities, was solemnly brought back to Jerusalem on 3 May, 629. This day, strangely enough, seems to have attracted special attention among Celtic liturgists in the West and, though disregarded in the East, has passed through Celtic channels (we meet it first in the Lectionary of Silos and in the Bobbio Missal) into general recognition under the mistaken title of "Invention of the Cross". Curiously enough the Greek Church keeps a feast of the apparition of the Cross to St. Cyril of Jerusalem on 7 May, though that of 3 May is unknown in the East. (3) B. The Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, 14 September, though apparently introduced into the West somewhat later than the so-called "Invention" on 3 May, seems to preserve the true date of the discovery of the Cross by St. Helena. This festival has always been kept in the East, and especially at Jerusalem, on that day, under the name of , i. e. "elevation" which probably meant originally the "bringing to light".
(5) C. Other Feasts of the Cross.-We might in some sense regard such a festival as that of the Holy Lance and Nails as a festival of the Cross, but it should perhaps rather be grouped with feasts of the Passion. In the East, however, we find other celebrations strictly connected with the Cross. For example, on 1 August the Greeks commemorate the taking of the relic of the Holy Cross from the palace in Constantinople to the church of St. Sophia, and on 7 May, as we have seen, they recall an apparition of the Cross to St. Cyril of Jerusalem. The Armenians, on the other hand, observe one principal feast of the Cross, under the name Chatz, which occurs in autumn almost immediately after the feast of the Assumption. It is counted as one of the seven principal feasts of the year, is preceded by a week's fast, and followed by an octave or its Armenian equivalent. See also ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE CROSS AND CRUCIFIX.
IV. THE "ADORATION"
From a theological standpoint this is treated above under ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE CROSS AND CRUCIFIX. (See also LATRIA.) As a liturgical function the veneration of the Cross on Good Friday must no doubt be traced back, as Amalarius already in the ninth century correctly divined, to the practice of honouring the relic of the True Cross at Jerusalem which is described in detail in the "Pilgrimage of Etheria", c. 380 (see TRUE CROSS.) The ceremony came to prevail everywhere where relics of the True Cross existed, and by a very natural development, where relics failed any ordinary cross supplied their place as an object of cultus. As Amalarius again sensibly remarks, "although every church cannot have such a relic, still the virtue of the Holy True Cross is not wanting in those crosses which are made in imitation of it." Neither was this veneration, in the case at any rate, of relics of the True Cross, confined to Good Friday. St. Gregory of Tours uses language which may possibly imply that in Jerusalem the True Cross was honoured every Wednesday and Friday. It is certain that at Constantinople a Sunday in Mid-Lent, the first of August, and the 14th of September were similarly privileged. Even from early times there was no hesitation about using the word adoratio. Thus, St. Paulinus of Nola, writing of the great Jerusalem relic (c. 410), declares that the bishop offered it to the people for worship (crucem quotannis adorandam populo promit), and first adored it himself. (See P. L., LXI, 325.) A curious practice was also introduced of anointing the cross, or, on occasion, any image or picture, with balm (balsamo) before presenting it for the veneration of the faithful. This custom was transferred to Rome, and we hear much of it in connection with the very ancient reliquary of the True Cross and also the supposed miraculous portrait of Our Saviour (acheiropoieta, i. e. not made by the hand of man) preserved in the Sancta Sanctorum of the Lateran, both of which recently, together with a multitude of other objects, have been examined and reported on by papal permission (see Grisar Die römische Kapelle Sancta Sanctorum und ihr Schatz, Freíburg, 1908, 91, 92). The objects mentioned were completely covered in part with solidified balm. Pope Adrian I, in vindicating the veneration of images to Charlemagne, mentions this use of balm and defends it (Mansi, Concilia, XIII, 778). The ceremony of the adoration of the Cross on Good Friday must have spread through the West in the seventh and eighth centuries, for it appears in the Gelasian Sacramentary and is presupposed in the Gregorian Antiphonarium. Both in Anglo-Saxon England and in the England of the later Middle Ages the "Creeping to the Cross" was a ceremony which made a deep impression on the popular mind. St. Louis of France: and other pious princes dressed themselves in haircloth and crept to the cross barefoot. At present, instead of creeping to the cross on hands and knees, three profound double genuflexions are made before kissing the feet of the crucifix, and the sacred ministers remove their shoes when performing the ceremony. The collection now commonly made on this occasion for the support of the Holy Places seems also to date from medieval times.
V. MANUAL SIGN OF THE CROSS
For the Figure of the Cross as a Manual Sign of Blessing the reader must be referred to the article SIGN OF THE CROSS, also subtitles (4) of ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE CROSS and (1) of TRUE CROSS.
VI. DEDICATIONS OF CHURCHES, ETC. TO THE HOLY CROSS
Possibly one of the earliest dedications to the Cross, if we put aside Constantine's church upon Calvary known in Etheria's time as Ad Crucem and also the Sessorian basilica which was its Roman counterpart, was the monastery erected at Poitiers by St. Rhadegund in the sixth century. In behalf of this foundation the saint begged and obtained a relic of the True Cross from the Emperor Justin II at Constantinople.
The bringing of the relic to Poitiers was the occasion of the composition of the two famous hymns by Venantius Fortunatus, "Vexilla regis" and "Pange, lingua, gloriosi prælium certaminis". In England perhaps the most famous monastery bearing this dedication was the Holy Cross Abbey at Waltham, founded by King Harold. At present about sixty ancient English churches are dedicated to the Holy Cross, while twenty more bear the same dedication in the distinctively-English form of "Holy Rood". The famous Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, once occupied by Mary Queen of Scots, derives its name from a monastery of the Holy Rood upon the site of which it was erected, and its church, now in ruins, was originally the church of the monks.
VII. THE CROSS IN RELIGIOUS ORDERS AND IN THE CRUSADES
Although the older orders were earnest in conforming to the general usage of the Church as regards the veneration of the Cross, no distinctive cultus seems to be attributable to the monasteries. The practice of carrying a crucifix as part of the ordinary religious habit seems to be of comparatively modern date. It is significant that, although in most modern congregations of nuns the bestowal of the crucifix is a prominent feature of the ceremony of profession, the service in the Roman Pontifical, "De Benedictione et Consecratione Virginum", knows nothing of it. It provides for the giving of rings and crosses but not of crucifixes. Probably much of the stimulus given to devotion to the crucifix may be traced ultimately to Franciscan influences, and it is not mere coincidence that the development in art of the agonized and thorn-crowned type of figure upon the Cross coincides more or less exactly with the great Franciscan revival of the thirteenth century. Somewhat earlier than the time of Francis an Italian Order of crociferi (cross-bearers), distinguished by carrying as part of their costume a plain cross of wood or metal, was founded in the neighbourhood of Bologna to tend the sick, and several other orders, particularly one established shortly afterwards in the Netherlands and still surviving, have since borne the same or a similar name. In the case of the Military Orders, for example, that of St. John of Jerusalem or Knights Hospitallers, the cross impressed upon their habit has gradually become distinctive of the order. It seems to have been originally only the badge of the crusaders, who wore a red cross upon their right shoulders as a token of the obligation they had taken upon themselves. The Roman Pontifical still contains the ceremonial for the blessing and imposition of the cross upon those who set out for the aid und defence of the Christian Faith or for the recovery of the Holy Land. After the cross has been blessed the bishop imposes it upon the candidate with the words: "Receive the sign of the cross, in the Name of the Father + and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost + in token of the Cross, Passion, and Death of Christ, for the defence of thy body and thy soul, that by the favour of the Divine Goodness when thy journey is accomplished thou mayest return to thy family safe and amended [salvus et emendatus]. Through Christ Our Lord, Amen." The crosses conferred by sovereigns in connection with various orders of knighthood may probably be traced to the same idea.
The various types of cross have rather to do with heraldry or art than with the history of Christianity. The names and shapes of the more common varieties can best be gathered from the annexed table. For the vast majority the form is purely conventional and artificial. Their divergence from the normal type is a mere freak of fancy and corresponds to no attempt to reproduce the shape of the gibbet on which Our Saviour died, or to convey any symbolical meaning. The crux ansata, or cross with a handle, and the crux gammata, or "fylfot", are much more ancient than Christianity. (See in ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE CROSS, (1) Primitive Cruciform Signs.) The chrismon, or chi-rho, has already been mentioned as the earliest forms in which the cross appear in Christian art [Section I (4)]. The forms which it took varied considerably and it is difficult to classify them chronologically. -With regard to the great Celtic stone crosses, particularly in Ireland, we may note the tendency conspicuous in so many specimens to surround the cross with in a circle. It is just conceivable that there is foundation for regarding this circle as derived from the loop of the Egyptian crux ansata.
VIII. THE CROSS OUTSIDE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
(8) The Cross outside of the Catholic Church.-In the Russian Church the conventional form in which the cross is usually shown is in fact a three-barred cross, of which the upper bar represents the title of the cross, the second the arms, and the lowest, which is always inclined at an angle, the suppedaneum or foot-rest. In England it may be said that in the early years of Elizabeth's reign a clean sweep was made of the crosses so long venerated by the people. All the roods were ordered to be pulled down, and the crosses were removed from the altars, or rather the communion-tables which replaced the altars. The only check in this movement was the fact that the queen herself, for some rather obscure reason, insisted at first on retaining the crucifix in her own private chapel. The presence of a crucifix or even a plain cross upon the altar was long held to be illegal in virtue of the "Ornaments Rubrics". In recent years, however, there has been a notable reaction, and crosses, or even crucifixes, are quite commonly seen upon the altar of Anglican churches. Again, in the reredos recently erected in St. Paul's Cathedral in London a large crucifix, with the figures of St. Mary and St. John, forms the most conspicuous feature. In Lutheran churches there has always been much tolerance for the crucifix either upon or behind the altar.
It would not be easy to provide an adequate bibliography for the very wide field covered by this article. A few works may be mentioned of a more general kind.—BÄUMER in Kirchenlex., VII, 1054-1088; QUILLIET in Dict. da théol. cath., III, 2339-2363; HOPPENOT, Le crucifix dans l'histoire (Lille, 1900); SEYMOUR, The Cross in Tradition, History and Art (New York, 1898).-Both these last works are very comprehensive in scope, but unfortunately quite uncritical.—STEVENS, The Cross in the Life and Literature of the Anglo-Saxons (New York, 1904). ROHAULT DE FLEURY, La Messe (Paris, 1885), specially valuable tor its illustrations of liturgical crosses; KRAUS, Geschichte der christlichen Kunst (Freiburg, 1895-1908); COX AND HARVEY, English Church Furniture (London, 1907); BINTERIM, Denkwürdigkeiten, IV, Part I, 496 sqq.; MARTÈNE, De Antiquis Ecclesiæ Ritibus; THEIRS, Dissertation sur les principaux autels et sur les jubés (Paris, 1688).