Thursday, January 29, 2015

The crescent and the cross

Recently I was reading some discussion about the Cross over Crescent seen in Orthodoxy. Many origins for it were given (below is one from Wikipedia). From reference to the moon in Revelation (a common Marian image), to an ancient symbol of the Church, to an anchor, to a simple statement against the Ottomans. If anyone has a scholarly source on this development, I'd love to hear about it. Please email or place in the comments.

(Wikipedia) - One variation of the Orthodox Cross is the 'Cross over Crescent'. "In 1486, Tsar Ivan IV (the Terrible) conquered the city of Kazan which had been under the rule of Moslem Tatars, and in remembrance of this, he decreed that from henceforth the Islamic crescent be placed at the bottom of the Crosses to signify the victory of the Cross (Christianity) over the Crescent (Islam)." This 'Cross over Crescent' is sometimes accompanied by "Gabriel perched on the top of the Cross blowing his trumpet."

7 comments:

  1. Met. Hilarious of Volokolamsk:

    "Sometimes a crescent moon is found on the bottom part of crosses on domes. According to the information available to us, this type of cross adorned the domes of several churches of the twelfth century, in particular the Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin on the Nerl, the Cathedral of Saint Dimitry in Vladimir, and Assumption Cathedral in Staraya Ladoga. Here, the crescent moon in no way represents a Muslim symbol and does not indicate, as it sometimes suggested, the superiority of Christianity over Islam. The crescent moon was one of the state symbols of Byzantium (it symbolized real power) and only after the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks did it become a symbol of the Ottoman Empire. The depiction of the crescent moon is found on Old Russian icons, vestments, and book miniatures. Moreover, the cross with the crescent moon brings to mind an anchor (the symbol of salvation, concordant with the symbolism of the Church as a ship), a blossomed cross, a chalice, or a trampled-upon snake." (Orthodox Christianity Vol. III, The Architecture, Icons, and Music of the Orthodox Church by Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev. p. 57)

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  2. correction: "it [the crescent] symbolized royal power"

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  3. Ivan IV was born in 1530; his forces captured Kazan in 1552, not 1486.

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  4. Translated from “ Crescent in the base of the Cross?” http://www.pravmir.ru/polumesyac-v-osnovanii-kresta/
    Mine comments are in [...].

    “The Orthodox Church Dome’s crosses are often different from Orthodox usual eight-pointed crosses. The cross on the Orthodox church’s dome expresses an idea of the House of God and the ship of Salvation and has the appropriate symbols. Very often the questions and misunderstandings are arising concerning the crescent (tsaty), located at the bottom of the cross. What is the meaning of this symbol?
    [Many sources refers that crescent on the Russian Orthodox crosses were placed by Ivan the Terrible order in the honor of victory over Kazan, conquering Islamic state and relief of Russia from Islamic ( Mongol-Tatar) oppression.]

    First of all, we must bear in mind that the crescent in the Orthodox cross has no relation either to the Muslim religion, or to a victory over the Muslims. The Crescents were used in the decorations of Orthodox crosses by the churches before [Ivan the Terrible reign]: Church of the Intercession on the Nerl (1165), Dimitrievsky Cathedral in Vladimir (1197) and others.
    [Russian Orthodox religion was adopted from Byzantine Orthodox Christianity.]
    The crescent in ancient times was a sign of the Byzantine state, and only after 1453, when Constantinople was captured by the Turks, the Christian symbol was the official emblem of the Ottoman Empire. The Orthodox Byzantine crescent (tsata) symbolized royal power. Apparently, on the same bases the crescent was placed as a symbol of princely dignity in the image’s of Kyiv Prince Yaroslav II in the "royal chronicler» of XVI century. Often crescent (tsata) is portrayed as part of Episcopal vestments of St. Nicholas [Russian Orthodox Saint]. It can also be found in other icons: the Holy Trinity, the Savior, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. All this makes it right to assume that crescent (tsata) on the cross with is a symbol of the Lord Jesus Christ as King and High Priest. Thus, the installation of a cross with crescent (tsata) on the dome of the temple reminds us that this temple belongs to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

    In addition, from the past — from Christ and the first centuries of Christianity — we received another meaning of the cross with a crescent. In one of his epistles, St. Paul teaches that Christians are able to "hold upon the given hope, that is the Cross, which is as the safe and steadfast anchor for a soul." (Heb. 6: 18-19). This "anchor," both symbolically is covering the cross from the defilement of the Gentiles, and is opening its true meaning to faithful Christians: i.e. the saving from the consequences of sin is our strong hope. Only the Christ’s ship is able to bring everyone through the waves of a stormy lifetime to the haven of eternal life.
    Fancy ornament crosses set on the dome of Sofia Vologda (1570), Holy Trinity Cathedral Verkhoturye (1703), the temple in the city of the blessed Cosmas Kostylevo. They decorated with twelve stars in the rays emanating from the center and with a crescent below. The symbolism of the cross vividly conveys to the image of Revelation: "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head " - a sign that originated from the twelve tribes of Israel, which later were led by the twelve apostles, constituting its luminous glory.
    In addition to the described above symbolism of the crescent, there are also others which belong to in the patriarchy tradition — for example: the Cradle of Bethlehem, which held the Divine Infant Christ; the Eucharistic cup, which held the Blood of Christ; the Church’s Ship; and Baptismal Font Temple.
    That's how many mysterious spiritual meaning are in the cross that shines above the dome of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral.”

    ReplyDelete
  5. Translated from “ Crescent in the base of the Cross?” http://www.pravmir.ru/polumesyac-v-osnovanii-kresta/
    Mine comments are in [...].

    “The Orthodox Church Dome’s crosses are often different from Orthodox usual eight-pointed crosses. The cross on the Orthodox church’s dome expresses an idea of the House of God and the ship of Salvation and has the appropriate symbols. Very often the questions and misunderstandings are arising concerning the crescent (tsaty), located at the bottom of the cross. What is the meaning of this symbol?
    [Many sources refers that crescent on the Russian Orthodox crosses were placed by Ivan the Terrible order in the honor of victory over Kazan, conquering Islamic state and relief of Russia from Islamic ( Mongol-Tatar) oppression.]

    First of all, we must bear in mind that the crescent in the Orthodox cross has no relation either to the Muslim religion, or to a victory over the Muslims. The Crescents were used in the decorations of Orthodox crosses by the churches before [Ivan the Terrible reign]: Church of the Intercession on the Nerl (1165), Dimitrievsky Cathedral in Vladimir (1197) and others.
    [Russian Orthodox religion was adopted from Byzantine Orthodox Christianity.]
    The crescent in ancient times was a sign of the Byzantine state, and only after 1453, when Constantinople was captured by the Turks, the Christian symbol was the official emblem of the Ottoman Empire. The Orthodox Byzantine crescent (tsata) symbolized royal power. Apparently, on the same bases the crescent was placed as a symbol of princely dignity in the image’s of Kyiv Prince Yaroslav II in the "royal chronicler» of XVI century. Often crescent (tsata) is portrayed as part of Episcopal vestments of St. Nicholas [Russian Orthodox Saint]. It can also be found in other icons: the Holy Trinity, the Savior, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. All this makes it right to assume that crescent (tsata) on the cross with is a symbol of the Lord Jesus Christ as King and High Priest. Thus, the installation of a cross with crescent (tsata) on the dome of the temple reminds us that this temple belongs to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

    In addition, from the past — from Christ and the first centuries of Christianity — we received another meaning of the cross with a crescent. In one of his epistles, St. Paul teaches that Christians are able to "hold upon the given hope, that is the Cross, which is as the safe and steadfast anchor for a soul." (Heb. 6: 18-19). This "anchor," both symbolically is covering the cross from the defilement of the Gentiles, and is opening its true meaning to faithful Christians: i.e. the saving from the consequences of sin is our strong hope. Only the Christ’s ship is able to bring everyone through the waves of a stormy lifetime to the haven of eternal life.
    Fancy ornament crosses set on the dome of Sofia Vologda (1570), Holy Trinity Cathedral Verkhoturye (1703), the temple in the city of the blessed Cosmas Kostylevo. They decorated with twelve stars in the rays emanating from the center and with a crescent below. The symbolism of the cross vividly conveys to the image of Revelation: "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head " - a sign that originated from the twelve tribes of Israel, which later were led by the twelve apostles, constituting its luminous glory.
    In addition to the described above symbolism of the crescent, there are also others which belong to in the patriarchy tradition — for example: the Cradle of Bethlehem, which held the Divine Infant Christ; the Eucharistic cup, which held the Blood of Christ; the Church’s Ship; and Baptismal Font Temple.
    That's how many mysterious spiritual meaning are in the cross that shines above the dome of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral.”

    ReplyDelete
  6. Also check the Byzantine's flags: Video of Byzantine flags: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n1JFGHpYWE#t=113

    At the mark 0:38 you’ll see the crescent—star symbol.
    At the mark 2:13 you’ll see the flag, that was replicated by Russia, as a symbol of Russia (first by Russian Empire, and after the split of the USSR, by Russian Federation)

    http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/publications/archive/russia_bulletin/00006/_res/id=Picture/Russian-Presidential-Seal.jpg

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  7. Satan has used the crescent moon and star symbol throughout history, with islam being a cult and the mirror opposite of Christianity; Mystery Babylon, the mother of all harlots and abominations of the earth, Mary standing atop it represents the destruction of islam in the last days as foretold in the book of revelation.

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