This is a small Orthodox cross pendant, close to the Greek proportions, with a circular medallion in the center and bars that are executed in filigree. This shape and ornamentation are reminiscent of Byzantine crosses made in the 6th – 7th centuries.
As with most crosses of Greek proportions, the cross is understood as a quadripartite model of the world created and organized by the Lord. In the center, inside the round medallion, one can see the Holy Face of the Savior not made by human hands. The four widening bars of the cross, stretching outward from the central medallion, symbolize the four beams of the Light of Life emanating from the source – that is, from Christ. The bars, in turn, also end in round medallions, which stand for the four parts of the world and are covered in floral ornamentation, pointing at the cross as the Tree of Life.
The same symbolism is present on the reverse of the cross. However, instead of the Holy Face of the Savior not made by human hands, in the center there is a chrism – the monogram for Christ, comprised from the two Greek letters Χ (chi) and P(ro) (the initials of the name Jesus Christ). It is supplemented by the Greek letters Α and Ω, which illustrate a passage from the Apocalypse: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end…” and indicate that the Divine is boundless and has neither a beginning nor an end. The chrism as a whole represents Christ Himself and His victory over death, and has a protective function.
Legend states that the character was revealed in a dream to Emperor Constantine against the background of the sun, and was meant to be taken as a sign of victory. The Emperor had it copied onto his banner and the soldiers’ shields, thus conferring Christ’s protection onto his army. Later, the chrism on the imperial standard or on triumphal crosses could be complemented with an image of Christ in a circular medallion, the so-called clipeus. This tradition can also be traced in Russia, where the Holy Face of the Savior not made by human hands was displayed on battle flags, protecting the soldiers and securing victory for the Russian army. Therefore, the combination of the Savior’s Holy Face and the chrism on the cross leads to a deeper understanding of their value and enhances the protection offered to the believer.