Crucifix

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Crucifixion of Christ at the winged triptych at the Church of the Teutonic Order in Vienna, Austria. Woodcarvings by an anonymous master; polychromy by Jan van Wavere, Mechelen, signed 1520. This altarpiece was originally made for St. Mary's Church, Gdansk, and came to Vienna in 1864. Wien Deutschordenskirche Flugelaltar Kreuzigung 01.jpg
Crucifixion of Christ at the winged triptych at the Church of the Teutonic Order in Vienna, Austria. Woodcarvings by an anonymous master; polychromy by Jan van Wavere, Mechelen, signed 1520. This altarpiece was originally made for St. Mary's Church, Gdańsk, and came to Vienna in 1864.

A crucifix (from Latin cruci fixus meaning "(one) fixed to a cross") is an image of Jesus on the cross, as distinct from a bare cross. The representation of Jesus himself on the cross is referred to in English as the corpus (Latin for "body"). [1] [2]

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Jesus Central figure of Christianity

Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah (Christ) prophesied in the Old Testament.

The Christian cross, seen as a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus, is the best-known symbol of Christianity. It is related to the crucifix and to the more general family of cross symbols, the term cross itself being detached from the original specifically Christian meaning in modern English.

Contents

The crucifix is a principal symbol for many groups of Christians, and one of the most common forms of the Crucifixion in the arts. It is especially important in the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, but is also used in the Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrian, and Eastern Catholic Churches, as well as by the Lutheran and Anglican Churches. [3] [4] The symbol is less common in churches of other Protestant denominations, which prefer to use a cross without the figure of Jesus (the corpus). The crucifix emphasizes Jesus' sacrifice — his death by crucifixion, which Christians believe brought about the redemption of mankind. Most crucifixes portray Jesus on a Latin cross, rather than any other shape, such as a Tau cross or a Coptic cross.

Christians people who adhere to Christianity

Christians are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The words Christ and Christian derive from the Koine Greek title Christós (Χριστός), a translation of the Biblical Hebrew term mashiach (מָשִׁיחַ).

Crucifixion in the arts artistic theme

Crucifixions and crucifixes have appeared in the arts and popular culture from before the era of the pagan Roman Empire. The crucifixion of Jesus has been depicted in religious art since the 4th century CE. In more modern times, crucifixion has appeared in film and television as well as in fine art, and depictions of other historical crucifixions have appeared as well as the crucifixion of Christ. Modern art and culture have also seen the rise of images of crucifixion being used to make statements unconnected with Christian iconography, or even just used for shock value.

Latin Church Automonous particular church making up of most of the Western world Catholics

The Latin Church is the largest particular church of the Catholic Church, employing the Latin liturgical rites. It is one of 24 sui iuris churches, the 23 others forming the Eastern Catholic Churches. It is headed by the bishop of Rome, the pope – traditionally also called the Patriarch of the West – with cathedra in this role at the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome, Italy. The Latin Church traces its history to the earliest days of Christianity, according to Catholic tradition, through its direct leadership under the Holy See.

Western crucifixes usually have a three-dimensional corpus, but in Eastern Orthodoxy Jesus' body is normally painted on the cross, or in low relief. Strictly speaking, to be a crucifix, the cross must be three-dimensional, but this distinction is not always observed. An entire painting of the Crucifixion of Jesus including a landscape background and other figures is not a crucifix either.

Relief Sculptural technique

Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The term relief is from the Latin verb relevo, to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane. What is actually performed when a relief is cut in from a flat surface of stone or wood is a lowering of the field, leaving the unsculpted parts seemingly raised. The technique involves considerable chiselling away of the background, which is a time-consuming exercise. On the other hand, a relief saves forming the rear of a subject, and is less fragile and more securely fixed than a sculpture in the round, especially one of a standing figure where the ankles are a potential weak point, especially in stone. In other materials such as metal, clay, plaster stucco, ceramics or papier-mâché the form can be just added to or raised from the background, and monumental bronze reliefs are made by casting.

Crucifixion of Jesus Jesus crucifixion is described in the four canonical gospels

The crucifixion of Jesus occurred in 1st-century Judea, most likely between AD 30 and 33. Jesus' crucifixion is described in the four canonical gospels, referred to in the New Testament epistles, attested to by other ancient sources, and is established as a historical event confirmed by non-Christian sources, although there is no consensus among historians on the exact details.

Large crucifixes high across the central axis of a church are known by the Old English term rood. By the late Middle Ages these were a near-universal feature of Western churches, but are now very rare. Modern Roman Catholic churches often have a crucifix above the altar on the wall; for the celebration of Mass, the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church requires that, "on or close to the altar there is to be a cross with a figure of Christ crucified". [5]

Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest historical form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers probably in the mid-5th century, and the first Old English literary works date from the mid-7th century. After the Norman conquest of 1066, English was replaced, for a time, as the language of the upper classes by Anglo-Norman, a relative of French. This is regarded as marking the end of the Old English era, as during this period the English language was heavily influenced by Anglo-Norman, developing into a phase known now as Middle English.

Rood

A rood or rood cross, sometimes known as a triumphal cross, is a cross or crucifix, especially the large Crucifixion set above the entrance to the chancel of a medieval church. Alternatively, it is a large sculpture or painting of the crucifixion of Jesus.

Middle Ages Period of European history from the 5th to the 15th century

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

Description

A crucifix in the chancel of a Lutheran church. Chancel of Trinity Lutheran Church on Holy Saturday.jpg
A crucifix in the chancel of a Lutheran church.

The standard, four-pointed Latin crucifix consists of an upright post or stipes and a single crosspiece to which the sufferer's arms were nailed. There may also be a short projecting nameplate, showing the letters INRI (Greek: INBI). The Russian Orthodox crucifix usually has an additional third crossbar, to which the feet are nailed, and which is angled upward toward the penitent thief Saint Dismas (to the viewer's left) and downward toward the impenitent thief Gestas (to the viewer's right). The corpus of Eastern crucifixes is normally a two-dimensional or low relief icon that shows Jesus as already dead, his face peaceful and somber. They are rarely three-dimensional figures as in the Western tradition, although these may be found where Western influences are strong, but are more typically icons painted on a piece of wood shaped to include the double-barred cross and perhaps the edge of Christ's hips and halo, and no background. More sculptural small crucifixes in metal relief are also used in Orthodoxy (see gallery examples), including as pectoral crosses and blessing crosses.

Titulus (inscription) "Title" plaque, usually referring to those written in Classical Latin

Titulus is a term used for the labels or captions naming figures or subjects in art, which were commonly added in classical and medieval art, and remain conventional in Eastern Orthodox icons. In particular the term describes the conventional inscriptions on stone that listed the honours of an individual or that identified boundaries in the Roman Empire. A Titulus pictus is a merchant's mark or other commercial inscription.

Icon religious work of art, generally a panel painting, in Eastern Christianity

An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, in the cultures of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Roman Catholic, and certain Eastern Catholic churches. The most common subjects include Christ, Mary, saints and angels. Although especially associated with "portrait" style images concentrating on one or two main figures, the term also covers most religious images in a variety of artistic media produced by Eastern Christianity, including narrative scenes. Icons can represent various scenes in the Bible.

Halo (religious iconography) Religious symbol representing a ring of light

A halo is a crown of light rays, circle or disk of light that surrounds a person in art. It has been used in the iconography of many religions to indicate holy or sacred figures, and has at various periods also been used in images of rulers or heroes. In the sacred art of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, among other religions, sacred persons may be depicted with a halo in the form of a circular glow, or flames in Asian art, around the head or around the whole body—this last one is often called a mandorla. Halos may be shown as almost any color or combination of colors, but are most often depicted as golden, yellow or white when representing light or red when representing flames.

Western crucifixes may show Christ dead or alive, the presence of the spear wound in his ribs traditionally indicating that he is dead. In either case his face very often shows his suffering. In Orthodoxy he has normally been shown as dead since around the end of the period of Byzantine Iconoclasm. [6] Eastern crucifixes have Jesus' two feet nailed side by side, rather than crossed one above the other, as Western crucifixes have shown them since around the 13th century. The crown of thorns is also generally absent in Eastern crucifixes, since the emphasis is not on Christ's suffering, but on his triumph over sin and death. The "S"-shaped position of Jesus' body on the cross is a Byzantine innovation of the late 10th century, [7] though also found in the German Gero Cross of the same date. Probably more from Byzantine influence, it spread elsewhere in the West, especially to Italy, by the Romanesque period, though it was more usual in painting than sculpted crucifixes. It's in Italy that the emphasis was put on Jesus' suffering and realistic details, during a process of general humanization of Christ favored by the Franciscan order. During the 13th century the suffering Italian model (Christus patiens) triumphed over the traditional Byzantine one (Christus gloriosus) anywhere in Europe also due to the works of artists such as Giunta Pisano and Cimabue. Since the Renaissance the "S"-shape is generally much less pronounced. Eastern Christian blessing crosses will often have the Crucifixion depicted on one side, and the Resurrection on the other, illustrating the understanding of Orthodox theology that the Crucifixion and Resurrection are two intimately related aspects of the same act of salvation.

Byzantine Iconoclasm two periods in the history of the Byzantine Empire when the use of religious images or icons was opposed by religious and imperial authorities

Byzantine Iconoclasm refers to two periods in the history of the Byzantine Empire when the use of religious images or icons was opposed by religious and imperial authorities within the Orthodox Church and the temporal imperial hierarchy. The "First Iconoclasm", as it is sometimes called, existed between about 726 and 787. The "Second Iconoclasm" was between 814 and 842. According to the traditional view, Byzantine Iconoclasm was started by a ban on religious images by Emperor Leo III and continued under his successors. It was accompanied by widespread destruction of images and persecution of supporters of the veneration of images. The Pope remained firmly in support of the use of images throughout the period, and the whole episode widened the growing divergence between the Byzantine and Carolingian traditions in what was still a unified church, as well as facilitating the reduction or removal of Byzantine political control over parts of Italy.

Crown of thorns symbol and artifact in Christianity; one of the instruments of the passion

According to three of the Gospels, a woven crown of thorns was placed on the head of Jesus during the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. It was one of the instruments of the Passion, employed by Jesus' captors both to cause him pain and to mock his claim of authority. It is mentioned in the gospels of Matthew, Mark (15:17) and John and is often alluded to by the early Church Fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen and others.

Byzantine art Art of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire

Byzantine art refers to the body of Christian Greek artistic products of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, as well as the nations and states that inherited culturally from the empire. Though the empire itself emerged from the decline of Rome and lasted until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the start date of the Byzantine period is rather clearer in art history than in political history, if still imprecise. Many Eastern Orthodox states in Eastern Europe, as well as to some degree the Muslim states of the eastern Mediterranean, preserved many aspects of the empire's culture and art for centuries afterward.

Another, symbolic, depiction shows a triumphant Christ (Latin : Christus triumphans), clothed in robes, rather than stripped as for His execution, with arms raised, appearing to rise up from the cross, sometimes accompanied by "rays of light", or an aureole encircling His Body. He may be robed as a prophet, crowned as a king, and vested in a stole as Great High Priest.

On some crucifixes a skull and crossbones are shown below the corpus, referring to Golgotha (Calvary), the site at which Jesus was crucified, which the Gospels say means in Hebrew "the place of the skull." [8] Medieval tradition held that it was the burial-place of Adam and Eve, and that the cross of Christ was raised directly over Adam's skull, so many crucifixes manufactured in Catholic countries still show the skull and crossbones below the corpus.

Very large crucifixes have been built, the largest being the Cross in the Woods in Michigan, with a 31 feet (9.4 m) high statue. [9]

Usage

Prayer in front of a crucifix, which is seen as a sacramental, is often part of devotion for Christians, especially those worshipping in a church, also privately. The person may sit, stand, or kneel in front of the crucifix, sometimes looking at it in contemplation, or merely in front of it with head bowed or eyes closed. During the Middle Ages small crucifixes, generally hung on a wall, became normal in the personal cells or living quarters first of monks, then all clergy, followed by the homes of the laity, spreading down from the top of society as these became cheap enough for the average person to afford. Most towns had a large crucifix erected as a monument, or some other shrine at the crossroads of the town. By the 19th century displaying a crucifix somewhere in the general reception areas of a house became typical of Catholic homes. Richer Catholics could afford a room set aside for a chapel.

Roman Catholic (both Eastern and Western), Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran Christians generally use the crucifix in public religious services. They believe use of the crucifix is in keeping with the statement by Saint Paul in Scripture, "we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God". [10]

In the West altar crosses and processional crosses began to be crucifixes in the 11th century, which became general around the 14th century, as they became cheaper. The Roman Rite requires that "either on the altar or near it, there is to be a cross, with the figure of Christ crucified upon it, a cross clearly visible to the assembled people. It is desirable that such a cross should remain near the altar even outside of liturgical celebrations, so as to call to mind for the faithful the saving Passion of the Lord." [11] The requirement of the altar cross was also mentioned in pre-1970 editions of the Roman Missal, [12] though not in the original 1570 Roman Missal of Pope Pius V. [13] The Rite of Funerals says that the Gospel Book, the Bible, or a cross (which will generally be in crucifix form) may be placed on the coffin for a Requiem Mass, but a second standing cross is not to be placed near the coffin if the altar cross can be easily seen from the body of the church. [14]

Eastern Christian liturgical processions called crucessions [ citation needed ] include a cross or crucifix at their head. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the crucifix is often placed above the iconostasis in the church. In the Russian Orthodox Church a large crucifix ("Golgotha") is placed behind the Holy Table (altar). During Matins of Good Friday, a large crucifix is taken in procession to the centre of the church, where it is venerated by the faithful. Sometimes the soma (corpus) is removable and is taken off the crucifix at Vespers that evening during the Gospel lesson describing the Descent from the Cross. The empty cross may then remain in the centre of the church until the Paschal vigil (local practices vary). The blessing cross which the priest uses to bless the faithful at the dismissal will often have the crucifix on one side and an icon of the Resurrection of Jesus on the other, the side with the Resurrection being used on Sundays and during Paschaltide, and the crucifix on other days.

Exorcist Gabriele Amorth has stated that the crucifix is one of the most effective means of averting or opposing demons. In folklore, it is believed to ward off vampires, incubi, succubi, and other evils.

Modern iconoclasts have used an inverted (upside-down) crucifix when showing disdain for Jesus Christ or the Catholic Church which believes in his divinity. [15] According to Christian tradition, Saint Peter was martyred by being crucified upside-down. [16]

Controversies

Unlike many other Protestants, Lutherans retained the use of the crucifix, Martin Luther church in Oberwiesenthal, Germany Kirche Oberwiesenthal Kruzifixe.jpg
Unlike many other Protestants, Lutherans retained the use of the crucifix, Martin Luther church in Oberwiesenthal, Germany

Protestant Reformation

The Lutheran Churches retained the use of the crucifix, "justifying "their continued use of medieval crucifixes with the same arguments employed since the Middle Ages, as is evident from the example of the altar of the Holy Cross in the Cistercian church of Doberan." [17] Martin Luther did not object to them, and this was among his differences with Andreas Karlstadt as early as 1525. At the time of the Reformation, Luther retained the crucifix in the Lutheran Church and they remain the center of worship in Lutheran parishes across Europe. [18] In the United States, however, Lutheranism came under the influence of Calvinism, and the plain cross came to be used in many churches. [19] In contrast to the practice of the Lutheran Churches, the early Reformed Churches rejected the use of the crucifix, and indeed the unadorned cross, along with other traditional religious imagery, as idolatrous. [20] Calvin, considered to be the father of the Reformed Church, was violently opposed to both cross and crucifix. [21] In England, the Royal Chapels of Elizabeth I were most unusual among local churches in retaining crucifixes, following the Queen's conservative tastes. These disappeared under her successor, James I, and their brief re-appearance in the early 1620s when James' heir was seeking a Spanish marriage was the subject of rumour and close observation by both Catholics and Protestants; when the match fell through they disappeared. [22]

Modern

In 2005, a mother accused her daughter's school in Derby, England, of discriminating against Christians after the teenager was suspended for refusing to take off a crucifix necklace. [23]

A British prison ordered a multi-faith chapel to remove all crucifixes "in case it offends Muslims." [24]

In 2008 in Spain, a local judge ordered crucifixes removed from public schools to settle a decades-old dispute over whether crucifixes should be displayed in public buildings in a non-confessional state. [25]

A 2008 Quebec government-commissioned report recommended that the crucifix of the National Assembly be removed to achieve greater pluralism, but the Liberal government was supported in its refusal by a consensus of most legislators. [26]

On 18 March 2011, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in the Lautsi v. Italy case, that the requirement in Italian law that crucifixes be displayed in classrooms of state schools does not violate the European Convention on Human Rights. [27] [28] [29] Crucifixes are common in most other Italian official buildings, including courts of law.

On 24 March 2011, the Constitutional Court of Peru ruled that the presence of crucifixes in courts of law does not violate the secular nature of the state. [30]

See also

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Processional cross Crucifix held during a Christian procession

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Glossary of the Catholic Church

This is a glossary of terms used within the Catholic Church.

Christian cross variants

This is a list of Christian cross variants. The Christian cross, with or without a figure of Christ included, is the main religious symbol of Christianity. A cross with a figure of Christ affixed to it is termed a crucifix and the figure is often referred to as the corpus.

References

  1. Rufolf Distelberger, Western Decorative Arts (National Gallery of Art 1993), p. 15
  2. Paul F. Bradshaw, The New SCM Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship (Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd, 2002)
  3. Our Savior's Lutheran Church, "Sanctuary and Chapel"
  4. St. John's Lutheran Church of Topeka, KS, "The Altar Crucifix" Archived 19 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  5. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 117.
  6. Schiller, Gertrud, Iconography of Christian Art, Vol. II, 1972 (English trans from German), p. 96, Lund Humphries, London, ISBN   0-85331-324-5
  7. Schiller, 98-99
  8. In fact this is clearly Aramaic rather than Hebrew. 'Gûlgaltâ' is the Aramaic for 'skull'. The name appears in all of the gospels except Luke, which calls the place simply Kranion 'the Skull', with no Aramaic. See Aramaic of Jesus
  9. "Welcome to the Worlds Largest Crucifixion". Michigan Interactive. Michigan Interactive. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  10. 1 Cor 1:23-24
  11. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 308
  12. Rubricae generales Missalis, XX
  13. Manlio Sodi, Achille Maria Triacca, Missale Romanum: Editio Princeps (1570) (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1998 ISBN   88-209-2547-8)
  14. Rite of Funerals, 38
  15. Lucifer Rising: A Book of Sin, Devil Worship and Rock n' Roll (Nemesis, 1994)
  16. Kramer, Heinrich and Sprenger, James (1486), Summers, Montague (translator - 1928), The Malleus Maleficarum
  17. Marquardt, Janet T.; Jordan, Alyce A. (14 January 2009). Medieval Art and Architecture after the Middle Ages. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 71. ISBN   9781443803984.
  18. Lyons, Mary Ann; O'Connor, Thomas (2010). The Ulster Earls and Baroque Europe: Refashioning Irish Identities, 1600-1800. Four Courts Press. p. 172.|access-date= requires |url= (help)
  19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 August 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  20. Obelkevich, James; Roper, Lyndal (5 November 2013). Disciplines of Faith: Studies in Religion, Politics and Patriarchy. Routledge. p. 548. ISBN   9781136820793. The Calvinizers sought to remove the crucifix as idolatrous. There was considerable continuity, certainly, between the Lutheran use of the crucifix and the Catholic.
  21. John Calvin. Institutes of the Christian Religion . Retrieved 12 November 2015. Of what use, then, were the erection in churches of so many crosses of wood and stone, silver and gold,
  22. Tyacke, Nicholas in Lake, Peter and Questier, Michael C.; Conformity and orthodoxy in the English church, c. 1560-1660, Boydell & Brewer, 2000, ISBN   0-85115-797-1, ISBN   978-0-85115-797-9, pp. 29–32
  23. The Telegraph
  24. Prison chapel not to have a crucifix
  25. Monster and Critics
  26. Press release of the European Court of Human Rights
  27. Full text of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights
  28. Summary of the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights
  29. Peru court upholds presence of crucifix in public places