CROSS

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CROSS ; one straight body laid at any angle upon another; the ensign or emblem of the Christian religion, as being a representation of the instrument of punishment, on which Jesus Christ suffered death from the Jews; the form in which many churches and cathedrals are built The cross of the ancients was simply a piece of wood, fastened across a tree or upright post, on which were executed criminals of the very worst class* After the crucifixion of Jesus, and the extension of the Christian religion, the cross was assumed as the ensign of bis followers. The cross was used emblematically before the Christian era. Upon a multitude of medals and ancient monuments, are to tie found crosses placed in the hands of statues of Victory, and of figures of emperors. It was also placed upon <a globe, whichever since the days of Augustus* has been the sign of1 the empire of the world and the image of victory/ The shields, the cuirasses, the helmets, the imperial cap, were all thus decorated* Th# cross has also been often stamped upon the reverses of money, as is proved by the old English game of cross and pile. The coins struck at Constantinople, and those of the Franks from the time of Clovis, were also thus marked. Exam {>les of these are given in the dissertation >y Ducange, Sur les Me1 dailies Byzantines, and in the treatise by Le Blanc, Sur les Monnaies de France. The cross is now the universal Christian emblem, being used upon the arms and banners of the soldier, the vestments of the priest, and in the armorial bearings of nobles. The forms of cathedrals, and often the patterns of their pavements, are adapted to tliĀ© representation of the cross, which is also sculptured and elevated upon tombs and sepulchres. Sculptured crosses of various descriptions, elevated upon handsome pedestals, were formerly erected in cemeteries and marketplaces, to designate peculiar events; as the queen's crosses at Northampton, Waltham, &c. Very fine ones are still to be seen in many parts of Great Britain, and particularly in Ireland. In order to understand the meaning of the sign of the cross among the first Christians, it must be kept in mind, that the cross was in their time an instrument of infamous punishment, like the gallows at present, and that they assumed this sign to show that they gloried in being the followers of Christ, notwithstanding the infamy which had been attempted to be thrown upon him, by the manner of his execution. The custom of making the sign of the cross, in memory of Jesus, may be traced to the 3d century of our era. Constantine the Great had crosses erected in public places, in palaces and churches. This emperor is generally supposed to have been the first who ordered the cross to be used as the sign or emblem under which, he would fight and conquer, in remembrance of the miraculous appearance of a cross in the heavens. A certain legend relates that, before his battle with Maxentius, a cross appeared to Jum, bearing tjie words (Under this thou shalt conquer, In hoc signo vinces), in consequence of which he had a standard made bearing this image, and called labarum. It was customary, in his time, to paint a cross at the entrance of a house, to denote that'it belonged to a Christian. Subsequently, the churches were, for the jpeater part, built in the form of this instrument But it did not become an object of adoration, until the empress Helena (Constantine's mother) found a cross ia Palestine, which was believed to be the one on which Christ suffered, and conveyed a part of it to Constantinople. This is the origin of the festival of the finding of the cross, which the Catholic church celebrates on the third of May. Standards and weapons were now ornamented with it, and the emperor Heraclius thought he had recovered the palladium of his empire, when he gained possession of a piece of the true cross, in 628, which had fallen into the hands of the Persians, in 616. In memory of this event, the festival of the exaltation of the cross was instituted, Heraclius having caused the cross to be erected at Jerusalem, on mount Calvary. This festival is celebrated on the 14th of September. It is remarkable how this holy relic became multiplied. Numberless churches possessed some parts of it, the miraculous power of which was said to have been proved by the most astonishing facts; and many persons actually believed that it could be infinitely divided without decreasing. It was in vain that the Iconoclasts, who condemned the worship of images, attempted to overthrow the adoration of the pross. The crucifix was considered as a principal ob ject of worship, in preference to the images of the saints, and, in compliance with the teachings of John of Damascus, was adored, during the 7th century, in all the churches of the East. That the West also ascribed a mysterious power to this symbol, is evident from the use which was made of it in the trials "by the judgment of God," in the middle ages. There never has existed any sign, which has been so often repeated in works of art as the cross. This may be ascribed, in part, to its form being applicable to many more purposes than those of other emblems; such, for instance, as the crescent. The distinguishing cipher of the Jesuits is