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Old Believer Cross

Salpy

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Now that we have an Old Believer on our forum, I just have to ask some questions about the Old Believers' beautiful cross:


http://www.gallerybyzantium.com/store/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=byzg&Product_Code=1035

This is the only picture of one I could find.  If someone has a better picture, please link or post it.

I have always thought these crosses are amazing, as they are so beautiful, elaborate and seem so full of symbolism. 

Can anyone explain the history of these crosses?  Is there more to the symbolism than what is explained in the link I posted above?  Does the design of these crosses have anything to do with how the Old Believers make the Sign of the Cross?  Do Old Believers wear other Orthodox crosses?  Do other EO's ever wear Old Believer crosses?  Is anyone able to make out and translate the inscription on the back of the cross in the link?  Do all Old Believer crosses have that inscription, or others?

I know these are a lot of questions, but I've always admired these crosses and have always wondered about them.  Thanks in advance.
 

Salpy

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Here is another one:

http://www.gallerybyzantium.com/store/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=byzg&Product_Code=861
 

Salpy

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You mean the first one?  How do you know it is a woman's baptismal cross?  By the inscription?

Is there any other info you can give us about Old Believer Crosses? 
 

IS

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Very beautiful although would not use them myself until a branch of The Church in communion with others used them as well.
 

fatman2021

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Left - Women's Cross Right - Men's Cross

The Baptismal Crosses are used to show that you have been given a canonical baptism. Old Believer crosses are commonly used by EO churches in Russia and eastern Europe. You don't see them because they are worn under the persons clothing. The crosses are also used the remind the person of there baptismal vows. Old Believer Priests and Bishops use standerd Russian Orthodox crosses and pendants. Slavonic lettering on the reverse reading from Psalm 68(LXX):


68:1 Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered; and let them that hate him flee from before him. 2 As smoke vanishes, let them vanish: as wax melts before the fire, so let the sinners perish from before God. 3 But let the righteous rejoice; let them exult before God: let them be delighted with joy.

4 Sing to God, sing praises to his name: make a way for him that rides upon the west (the Lord is his name) and exult before him. They shall be troubled before the face of him, 5 who is the father of the orphans, and judge of the widows: such is God in his holy place. 6 God settles the solitary in a house; leading forth prisoners mightily, also them that act provokingly, even them that dwell in tombs.

7 O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, when thou wentest through the wilderness; Pause: 8 the earth quaked, yea, the heavens dropped water at the presence of the God of Sina, at the presence of the God of Israel. 9 O God, thou wilt grant to thine inheritance a gracious rain; for it was weary, but thou didst refresh it.

10 Thy creatures dwell in it: thou hast in thy goodness prepared for the poor. 11 The Lord God will give a word to them that preach it in a great company. 12 The king of the forces of the beloved, of the beloved, will even grant them for the beauty of the house to divide the spoils. 13 Even if ye should lie among the lots, ye shall have the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her breast with yellow gold. 14 When the heavenly One scatters kings upon it, they shall be made snow-white in Selmon. 15 The mountain of God is a rich mountain; a swelling mountain, a rich mountain. 16 Wherefore do ye conceive evil, ye swelling mountains? this is the mountain which God has delighted to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever.

17 The chariots of God are ten thousand fold, thousands of rejoicing ones: the Lord is among them, in Sina, in the holy place. 18 Thou art gone up on high, thou hast led captivity captive, thou hast received gifts for man, yea, for they were rebellious, that thou mightest dwell among them.

19 Blessed be the Lord God, blessed be the Lord daily; and the God of our salvation shall prosper us. Pause. 20 Our God is the God of salvation; and to the Lord belong the issues from death. 21 But God shall crust the heads of his enemies; the hairy crown of them that go on in their trespasses. 22 The Lord said, I will bring again from Basan, I will bring my people again through the depths of the sea. 23 That thy foot may be dipped in blood, and the tongue of thy dogs be stained with that of thine enemies.

24 Thy goings, O God, have been seen; the goings of my God, the king, in the sanctuary. 25 The princes went first, next before the players on instruments, in the midst of damsels playing on timbrels. 26 Praise God in the congregations, the Lord from the fountains of Israel. 27 There is Benjamin the younger one in ecstasy, the princes of Juda their rulers, the princes of Zabulon, the princes of Nephthali.

28 O God, command thou thy strength: strengthen, O God, this which thou hast wrought in us. 29 Because of thy temple at Jerusalem shall kings bring presents to thee. 30 Rebuke the wild beasts of the reed: let the crowd of bulls with the heifers of the nations be rebuked, so that they who have been proved with silver may not be shut out: scatter thou the nations that wish for wars. 31 Ambassadors shall arrive out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall hasten to stretch out her hand readily to God.

32 Sing to God, ye kingdoms of the earth; sing psalms to the Lord. Pause. 33 Sing to God that rides on the heaven of heaven, eastward: lo, he will utter a mighty sound with his voice. 34 Give ye glory to God: his excellency is over Israel, and his power is in the clouds. 35 God is wonderful in his holy places, the God of Israel: he will give power and strength to his people: blessed be God.
 

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Didymus said:
Very beautiful although would not use them myself until a branch of The Church in communion with others used them as well.
There are very many of the Old Rite both in the Moscow Patriarchate, and here in ROCOR. In the latter, Bp. Daniel of Erie pastors the Old Rite community in Erie, PA. Not sure who fatman2021 is with - he sounds similar to someone I once knew J.A.
 

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My baptismal cross is an Ornate Old Believer. I'm OCA and my priest had no objections. Take that for what its worth.
 
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Greetings Topic,

Salpy asks:

> Can anyone explain the history of these crosses?

The history is not unlike the history which many Russians already know well. When the Holy Apostle Andrew arrived in what is known now as the Russian land he set up an 8 end cross in order to more fully express the Gospel there. With the Crusaders using the 4 point cross (thereby becoming such a symbol of heresy) and as Russia became the last Christian empire, the Russian rules are that a 4 end cross cannot be used without there also being an 8 end cross with it. This is in order to be distinct from the heretics and maintain that Apostolic tradition which is rightly Russian. The Old Believer style crosses do all trace back to the conversion of Russia to Orthodox Christianity at the time of Vladimir the Great.

> Is there more to the symbolism than what
> is explained in the link I posted above?

There is always more to explain, but sometimes the learning comes best by practicing their way. I am not sure how much more explanation of the sybolism can be explained in a forum like this.

> Does the design of these crosses have
> anything to do with how the Old Believers
> make the Sign of the Cross?

When in worship and the time for venerating the Cross approaches (and if there is no other Cross, like a wall cross, available) an individual may use their personal cross. In this gesture of veneration the cross is taken from its place under the shirt (rubukha), placed specially between the two fingers in the form of the hand used by Old Believers. Then the Sign of the Cross is made with the cross specially between the two fingers and immediately thereafter the cross is faced toward the worshipper and lovingly kissed. Then the cross is carefully placed back where it is to be kept.

> Do Old Believers wear other Orthodox crosses?

The only crosses I have personally seen Old Believers wear are the more ornate cross for females and the soldier cross for males. However, there are Angel crosses and others which are said to be from old times also. I do not know how appropriate for a Christian they are or not.

> Do other EO's ever wear Old Believer crosses?

I know that many modern style EO's mistake the female cross for what it is, that men wear such a thing. Lord have mercy. This is what happens in this age of Great Apostasy.

> Do all Old Believer crosses have that inscription, or others?

From the many Old Believers around the world, who I have contact with, theirs (and mine) all have that one and only inscription. Many Old Believers have departed the old ways, sadly, so there is no telling what somebody might find out there.

Forgive, John Alden

MyMartyrdom.com









 

Salpy

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Thank you for explaining this, Mr. Alden!  As I said, I always find these crosses to be very beautiful.
 

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Thanks.  My wife has the female old believer cross which is her baptismal cross.  We never knew this was an old believer cross.  We love it very much and over the last 13 years that she's worn it, its sparked countless conversations with people wanting to know what it is, and leads to conversations about her orthodoxy. 
 

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That's very interesting. Very beautiful crosses! I have a question. Are Orthodox Christians only allowed to wear Orthodox crosses? One of my friends received a very ostentatious, diamond-encrusted (non-Orthodox) cross as an engagement gift from her husband. She wears it quite often. How do we view such a practice? Is it correct to wear a cross which so obviously ornamental? Just wondering.
 

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For what it is worth, my children's baptismal crosses were just simple western style crosses from Walmart (the best we could do) and the priest didn't have any objections.
 

Rosehip

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Didymus said:
Very beautiful although would not use them myself until a branch of The Church in communion with others used them as well.
Why do you say this? I'm puzzled why we are allowed to wear a very showy, worldly, jewel-encrusted cross or a simple non-Orthodox cross from Walmart (no offense RLNM-I'm just using this as an example!), but not an Old Believer one which looks very Orthodox to me?
 

RLNM

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^ I'm not the least be bothered Rosehip. :) The way I see it, the style of the cross is not what it is all about in the least. The entire point is what the cross represents.
 

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My husband has the soldiers cross shown above, my sons is a smaller version that is slightly different but essentially the same cross.
 

Friul

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Rosehip said:
Why do you say this? I'm puzzled why we are allowed to wear a very showy, worldly, jewel-encrusted cross or a simple non-Orthodox cross from Walmart (no offense RLNM-I'm just using this as an example!), but not an Old Believer one which looks very Orthodox to me?
What exactly is a non-Orthodox cross?  The West was Orthodox for 1000 years and has a rich tradition of a variety of crosses (beautiful celtic crosses for example).  Also, the pectoral crosses many Priests and Bishops wear sometimes follow a similar, crux ordinaria shape.

I don't see the style of a cross or its material being a huge issue.  Unless there is something distinctly "wrong" with it (heretical inscriptions, etc).
 

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Rosehip said:
That's very interesting. Very beautiful crosses! I have a question. Are Orthodox Christians only allowed to wear Orthodox crosses? One of my friends received a very ostentatious, diamond-encrusted (non-Orthodox) cross as an engagement gift from her husband. She wears it quite often. How do we view such a practice? Is it correct to wear a cross which so obviously ornamental? Just wondering.
Rosehip,

I have several crosses; one is a Celtic weave in plain gold and I looking to get a Celtic Cross with triquetras and a circle for my next birthday. I love the symbolism of Celtic Crosses. The others I have are of gold with gemstones; one being completely of garnets; the other of tourmaline, iolite and diamonds. Ostentatious crosses do seem to be a tradition in Orthodoxy (and Catholicism); some of those owned by the Tsarina Alexandra are stunning.  

I tend to like to wear crosses and did so long before I converted to Orthodoxy. My baptismal cross is an old favourite, a traditional Latin cross, given to me by my husband many years ago and if I wear another cross (or any piece of jewellery) on display, I usually wear the baptismal cross under my clothing.  
 

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After checking, my sons is a Saint Nicholas cross, but it is nearly identical to the Soliders cross.

My cross is the Saint Xenia cross. Does anyone know why it is called that? My patron saint is Xenia of Saint Petersburg, and I love the cross. But I would love to know what the connection is.
 

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Jumping on the "questions about crosses" bandwagon, I have one! The cross I received at my Chrismation is the St. Olga Cross, with the blue enamel in the center. I was just wondering if the blue has any special significance?  I know in general that blue is the color for the Theotokos, but is that the case with this cross as well?

Bridget
 

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I'd like to "bump" this thread, so here's another question: would this "La Primavera" cross be suitable to wear? It strikes my fancy mightily, but am afraid it might not be kosher...

http://secure.jamesavery.com/jewelry/search/product/C-248A/La-Primavera-Cross/

Any opinions?
 

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Rosehip said:
I'd like to "bump" this thread, so here's another question: would this "La Primavera" cross be suitable to wear? It strikes my fancy mightily, but am afraid it might not be kosher...

http://secure.jamesavery.com/jewelry/search/product/C-248A/La-Primavera-Cross/

Any opinions?
I don't see why not.  I bet "Hopeful Faithful" would disagree though.
 

PeterTheAleut

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Elisha said:
I don't see why not.  I bet "Hopeful Faithful" would disagree though.
And if he does... ?
 

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Rosehip said:
I'd like to "bump" this thread, so here's another question: would this "La Primavera" cross be suitable to wear? It strikes my fancy mightily, but am afraid it might not be kosher...

http://secure.jamesavery.com/jewelry/search/product/C-248A/La-Primavera-Cross/

Any opinions?
I like the symbolism on that cross very much and would have no problem wearing it. I also wear a Catholic medallion of Mary with my baptismal cross. Might not be kosher to some, but it has great meaning to me.

I have always worn a cross as an expression of my faith and before I was Orthodox I often met with opposition from members of the evangelical group I belonged to. But I continued to wear it and was thrilled when it became my baptismal cross.

 

PeterTheAleut

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Elisha said:
I'll tell him thank you for sharing....(even though I won't care  ;D).
LOL! :laugh:  I like that answer. ;D
 

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"Are Orthodox Christians only allowed to wear Orthodox crosses?"

How would you define a non-Orthodox cross? I'm having difficulty imagining what it might look like.


 

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RLNM said:
^ I'm not the least be bothered Rosehip. :) The way I see it, the style of the cross is not what it is all about in the least. The entire point is what the cross represents.
This is what I put earlier in the discussion, and I've never heard in the long past or most recent past anything to indicate that a cross of any style is "off limits". There are many different styles of crosses, and most every one was designed to emphasize and remind of particular concepts. These concepts are what is important. When you get down to it, the cross itself is really just a bit of metal or wood. Then it is blessed. Then it is special. But, a bit of trivia: The swastika was origionally used as a cross, and then it was corrupted so badly by Hitler that I would not ever recommend that style to be used as a cross anymore.
 

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JohnC said:
"Are Orthodox Christians only allowed to wear Orthodox crosses?"

How would you define a non-Orthodox cross? I'm having difficulty imagining what it might look like.
Welcome to the forum! Wow, John, an hour and a half into your OC.net career and you've posted one of the best posts I've read this month. I've nominated this for the prestigious OC. net "Post of the Month" award! Please, write more like this!
 

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Rosehip said:
I have a question. Are Orthodox Christians only allowed to wear Orthodox crosses?
One of the men chrismated this past Holy Saturday was given a Celtic/Irish cross by his godfather.  Our priest blessed it and gave it to him to wear following his chrismation.  He didn't seem to find it objectionable.  However, and I may be quite wrong on this, the Irish/Celtic cross was made by St. Patrick who is, of course, an Orthodox saint, not just for the Western Rite but for the Eastern as well.  If that is the case, then it truly is an Orthodox cross.

But if a cross is blessed by a priest, then I suppose at that point, it is "made" Orthodox.  I don't know really.
 

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The reason I asked the question regarding "non-Orthodox crosses" (an oxymoron, it seems), was because Hopeful Faithful used the expression "Orthodox cross" as opposed to "Old Believer cross". Another person said he would decline from wearing an "Old Believer" cross, until certain conditions were met. Generally I have noticed all the people at my parish wear a certain style of cross, which I always thought was what one would call an "Orthodox" cross. Also, many people call the 3 bar cross an "Orthodox" cross. I admit, I am afraid at times to commit a faux pas and want to get things straight. I myself have one of those tiny, cheap, silver, Russian baptismal crosses with slavonic writing on the back.
 

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Elisha said:
I'll tell him thank you for sharing....(even though I won't care  ;D).
or as an old friend who'd been in the Navy would say "Your comment has been noted and logged."
(which would then be ignored.  ;) )
 

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scamandrius said:
One of the men chrismated this past Holy Saturday was given a Celtic/Irish cross by his godfather.  Our priest blessed it and gave it to him to wear following his chrismation.  He didn't seem to find it objectionable.  However, and I may be quite wrong on this, the Irish/Celtic cross was made by St. Patrick who is, of course, an Orthodox saint, not just for the Western Rite but for the Eastern as well.  If that is the case, then it truly is an Orthodox cross.

But if a cross is blessed by a priest, then I suppose at that point, it is "made" Orthodox.  I don't know really.
Legend has it that St Patrick, while talking to some Irish Druids who were soon to be converted, drew a simple Latin Cross through a pagan circle (the symbol of eternity). In so doing, he was expressing the eternal life offered by the Cross. There are claims, though, that the cross with the circle pre-dates Christianity as a pagan symbol of sun worship, but even if it was a pre-Christian symbol it was embraced by Celtic Christians, who were indeed Orthodox.

Having said that, I find a plain Latin Cross to be a most powerful symbol and had no qualms about choosing my old one for my baptismal cross.  My husband's baptismal cross is a Jerusalem Cross I bought for him in Israel twenty years ago.
 

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Rosehip said:
I myself have one of those tiny, cheap, silver, Russian baptismal crosses with slavonic writing on the back.
It will almost certainly say Спаси и Сохрани, Spasi i Sokhrani, which means

Save and Protect
 

Punch

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RLNM said:
But, a bit of trivia: The swastika was origionally used as a cross, and then it was corrupted so badly by Hitler that I would not ever recommend that style to be used as a cross anymore.
Hmm.  That explains why the water boiled when I went under . . . No, seriously, the Swastika was used by some of the early Copts, and there is one rather beautiful church in, I believe, Ethiopia that is heavily ornamented with this symbol. 
 

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I've seen frescoes embed with swastikas in a Church my uncle is a Parish Priest of. He is not a Copt and I doubt these embroiders are older that 200 years.
 
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