The Byzantine Crucifix depicts Jesus having just uttered “It is finished!”, bowed his head, and died (John 19:30). This lovely, highly polished dolomite stone and resin crucifix will be a most fitting gift an ordination or ordination anniversary, or a profession or jubilee of vows. This is a gift of authentic heirloom quality that will be displayed prominently and treasured for many years to come!
The Byzantine Crucifix – A Devoted Labor of Love
Measuring 10.4 inches high, the Byzantine Crucifix is designed to hang with ease on any wall in home or office. This crucifix of highly polished dolomite stone and resin and the look, feel, and heft of polished ivory. A community of monastic sisters designed, molded, and hand-finished this crucifix in the atelier of their monastery in France. How, where, and by whom this crucifix is made is convincing proof that it is indeed “culturally authentic.”
The Byzantine Crucifix – Rich in Imagery
The cross of the Byzantine Crucifix has three horizontal crossbeams: The top crossbeam representing (here abstractly) the plate inscribed with INRI, the main crossbeam, and the lowest angled crossbeam called the suppedaneum (Latin for “footrest”). In the Russian Orthodox tradition, the lower footrest beam is slanted with the side to Christ’s right usually higher. The footrest slants upward towards the penitent thief crucified on Jesus’ right (Luke 22:32-43) and downward towards the impenitent crucified thief who mocked Jesus. Above the cross an image of God the Father, the “Holy of Holies”, is unveiled by the two adoring Seraphim. Where the INRI is normally appended to the top of the cross, we see the four Greek letters ΙΣ ΧΣ. These letters are a syncope (contraction) of two Greek words: ΙΗΣΟΥΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ — IESOUS CHRISTOS — JESUS CHRIST. The center part of each word is removed (syncopated): Ι[ΗΣΟΥ]Σ Χ[ΡΙΣΤΟ]Σ becomes ΙΣ ΧΣ. The syncope of each of Greek word is indicated by the symbol ~ over the two pairs of Greek letters. All of the other inscriptions on this crucifix are written in Old Church Slavonic. The Sun and the Moon, symbolizing all of creation, are at the left and the right of the main crossbeam of the cross. Christ’s halo is inscribed with a cross and the Greek letters omicron (O), omega (Ω), and nu (N) which spell in Greek: O ΩN – transliterated as “HO ON” and translated as “the One who is”. O ΩN is here the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה (“I am who am”) in Exodus 3:14. The lance that pierced Jesus’ side (John 19:33-34) and the long stalk of hyssop topped with a sponge soaked in wine vinegar (John 19:28-30) flank each side of the cross. The walls of Jerusalem are visible in the background of the lower angled crossbeam. At the very bottom of the cross is a skull, marking the place of Jesus’ crucifix as Golgotha, the “Place of the Skull” (John 19:17).