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A History Of The Mass And Its Ceremonies In The Eastern And Western Church -Rev John O'Brien A.M.

While on the subject of Crosses we deem it well to mention the different kinds, as erroneous notions are prevalent about some of them. There are usually enumerated six different kinds of Crosses—viz.: 1st. The Latin Cross, where the transverse beam cuts the upright shaft near the top. 2d. The Greek Cross, where two equal beams cut each other in the middle. 3d. The Cross commonly known as St. Andrew’s, because the saint was crucified on it; it resembles the letter X. 4th. The Egyptian, or St. Anthony’s Cross, shaped like the letter T. 5th. The Maltese Cross, so called because worn by the Knights of Malta, formed of four equilateral triangles, whose apices meet in one common point. 6th. The Russian Cross, having two transverse beams at the head, and one near the foot of the upright shaft, slightly inclined, to favor a tradition of long standing with the Russians—viz., that when our Lord hung on the Cross one of his feet was lifted a little higher than the other (Coxe, Travels in Russia, p. 593).

Triple Cross.—A Cross with three transverse bars or transoms is generally denominated the Papal Cross; but this is nothing more than pure imagination, for no such Cross ever existed among papal insignia, and it exists nowhere to-day. When the Holy Father moves in procession nothing but the simplest kind of Cross—viz., that with one transverse beam—is carried before him, and it is well known that he never uses a bishop’s crook, or crosier, as it is called. A triple Cross, therefore, is a misconception, invented by painters, but never authorized by the Church.

Double Cross.—The double Cross, or that with two transverse beams at the head, one a little longer than the other, owes its origin evidently to the fact that upon the true Cross whereon our Lord suffered a board was placed above the head with the inscription in Hebrew, in Greek, and in Latin, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” This board is represented by one transom; and that on which our Lord’s head rested, and to which his hands were nailed, forms the second, and hence the so-called double Cross.

Archiepiscopal Cross.—We are entirely at a loss to know how this double Cross came to be an archiepiscopal ensign. Neither the Cæremoniale Episcoporum nor the Pontificale Romanum gives a word to distinguish it from any other; nor is it spoken of by any liturgical writer of our acquaintance, and there are few whose works we have not perused. It cannot be denied, however, that such Crosses are in use, and that they were formerly in vogue in certain places, particularly with the English prelates. It is generally supposed that they found their way into England from the East in the time of the Crusades. It is supposed, too, that his lordship Anthony Beck, Bishop of Durham, whom Pope Clement V., in 1305, created patriarch of Jerusalem, had something to do with their introduction, for they were very common with the Greeks (Dr. Rock, Church of Our Fathers, vol. ii. pp. 218–223). It may interest the reader to know that the only two prelates in the Church who are mentioned by name as having a peculiar right to the double Cross are the Patriarch of Venice and the Archbishop of Agria, in Hungary (Kozma, 73, note 3).

Jansenistic Crosses.—Crosses in which the arms of our Lord are but partly extended are called Jansenistic, from Cornelius Jansens, Bishop of Ipres, or Ypres, in Belgium, A.D. 1635, who maintained the heretical doctrine that Christ died not for all mankind but only for the good. To conform with the true doctrine that Christ died for all, a regular Catholic Crucifix would represent our Lord’s arms fully extended.








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