Cross pendant “Viennese”
The cross pendant “Viennese” is very large and has a solemn and splendid appearance. The integrated icons are characterized by intricate miniature detail and have been executed with great skill. The complex iconographic content of the cross is dedicated to the city of Vienna. As a consequence, it would be a particularly appropriate choice of gift for a person connected to the city. For example, it could be a priest who carries out his ministry in Vienna, or a loved one who comes from or lives there.
Symbolism of the cross pendant “Viennese”
The cross was made with the blessing of Mark, the Archbishop of Yegoryevo, and is dedicated to the city of Vienna.
This cross is distinguished by a four-pointed shape and Greek proportions. The shape replicates a large group of crosses dating back to the Romanesque period. The straight bars would proceed from a large central square and end in four smaller squares. The movable top part is shaped after the crown of the Holy Roman Empire. The crown was made in the X century for Emperor Otto I the Great and is also stored at the Vienna Museum.
Each person carries the image of God within him- or herself. Similarly, every city created by Christians carries the image of the Heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. 21: 10-27) and of the earthly paradise from Genesis. The Heavenly Jerusalem is represented by the square, while the circle stands for Paradise. The two shapes are united by a common center and the presence of four directions. In Paradise, they were signified by the four rivers of Paradise. An ideal shape for expressing this idea is the four-pointed cross of Greek proportions.
The front of our cross resembles the Imperial Cross of the Holy Roman Empire, stored at the Vienna Museum of Art History. Originally, that cross was a repository for two principal Christian relics, the Holy Spear and a particle of the Lord’s Cross. The one difference is that our cross is decorated with tiny metal grains instead of precious stones and pearls. In addition, the symbols of the evangelists are found on the obverse, rather than on the reverse. The central place is occupied by the image of Christ as the Lord Almighty. It is enclosed within a circle, a symbol of eternity, which in turn is enclosed in a square, which is a symbol of the earth. This combination of geometric shapes alludes to the Incarnation of the Lord. The whole composition is a model of Christ’s new world, enlightened by the light of the Gospel doctrine. The symbols of the Evangelists designate the principal parts or directions of the world and serve as their respective keepers. Naturally, this cosmic symbolism extends both to every part of the world and to every Christian city.
The symbols for the Evangelists can be traced back to the Book of Ezekiel (1:4-26) and in the Revelation of St. John the Theologian (4:6-7). Both describe four fantastical winged creatures akin to a lion, a calf, a man and an eagle surrounding the throne of the Almighty. In the Bible, the “four animals” personified the Glory of God and the Will of God, emanating in all four directions of the world. In the Christian tradition, they soon became associated with the four Gospels and the four Evangelists. Moreover, the number – four – was also associated with the four parts of the world and illustrated the universal and complete nature of the Christian teaching. In contemporary church practice, the four symbols are distributed according to the Blessed Jerome (4th century) as follows: the man is Matthew, the lion is Mark, the bull is Luke, the eagle is John. In the Old Believer practice the eagle stands for Mark while the lion stands for John. In ancient times other symbol distributions were also allowed, as the the question had no dogmatic significance.
The reverse fills the sacral space of the “city-in-the-cross with spiritual meaning. In particular, the back of our cross depicts the holy relics and images of the patron saints of Vienna.
In the center, we can see the Lord’s angels lifting up the two of the most crucial relics of the Holy Roman Empire. One of them is the Holy Spear, one of the Instruments of the Savior’s Passion. The other is a particle of the Precious and Life-giving Cross with a hole left from one of the nails. The spear from Vienna has long been considered to be the original spear of Longinus, an instrument of the Passions of Christ. A forged nail from the Cross of the Lord has been inserted into the hole in the middle of the spearhead. This is evidenced by the 14th century golden patch with the inscription: “The spear and nail of Christ”. Modern research has shown that the spearhead was made in the 7th century, although the inserted nail comes from the time of Christ. But this does not detract from the significance of the relic. Even though it is only a symbol of the Spear that pierced the holy flesh of Christ, the relic carries the spiritual energy of the original. As such, it remainds, as it is referred to, the “The Spear of Power” or “The Spear of Might”. Here, one should emphasize that these are spiritual concepts. Might is the might of the Spirit, whereas power refers to the power over sin.
To the left of the composition one can see the Archdeacon and Protomartyr Stephen, one of the Seventy Apostles, the patron and protector of Vienna. The saint’s relics rest in the altar of the main Roman Catholic cathedral of Vienna, which was named in his honor.
To the right there is the Archbishop and Wonderworker St. Nicholas, whose name was given to the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Vienna. Thus, the two Christian Churches – the Catholic and the Orthodox – stand in prayer before God together.
The lower part of the cross depicts the images of the Holy Unmercenary Healers, the brothers Cosmas and Damian. Their heads are in repose in the treasury of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The brothers were educated and skillful doctors who treated people free of charge. They obtained the gracious gift of the Holy Spirit to heal mental and bodily ailments by the power of prayer, and are revered as patrons of Christian families. Here, let us recall that the family is a “miniature church”. The strength of the Church of Christ and of society as a whole depends on its spiritual health.
The top of the cross contains an image of the Apostle Andrew the First-Called. The greater part of the Cross of St. Andrew is stored in the treasury of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. The second discovery of the Holy Spear in 1098 during the First Crusade is also connected to the Apostle Andrew. That year, the holy apostle announced to a certain servant thrice about the site where the Spear had been buried. The Apostle Andrew, the first to recognize and accept Christ in his heart, gives us an example of genuine and sincere faith. It is important that as many people as possible in the world were able to repeat his words: “We have found the Messiah, which means: Christ” (John 1:41).
Technical details of the cross pendant “Viennese”
The cross pendant is crafted from grade-925 sterling silver and decorated with blackening. The band of metal grains lining the edges of the cross on the front is plated with 24kt gold. So is the outer rim of the cross on the reverse. Gilding can also be seen on part of the holy relics and on the vertical bar of the smaller cross at the back.
The pendant is large, with dimensions of 60 x 36 mm, and a weight as great as 19 g. This makes the cross rather more suitable for wearing on display during major church feasts or other special occasions. At other times, it may be hidden underneath one’s clothes.