The cross follows the style of the Russian cross pendants made in the 17th century, and, as with most crosses belonging to this period, signifies victory and celebration. Its four-point shape is distinguished by a particular geometrical rigor. The cross has the characteristic voluminous bars with beveled edges that form a trapezoid in cross-section. The four small beams in the center of the cross point at the center as the source of the Divine Light – the symbol of Christ, according to the words of the Gospel: “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).
The four beams correspond to the four cardinal directions and the four Gospels.
The composition on the front is strict and laconic. It is an image of the Holy Cross, in this case, an eight-pointed Cross of Calvary with the instruments of our Savior’s passion: the spear and the cane. It is this eight-pointed cross with a diagonal lower bar that best expresses the idea of the Savior’s sacrifice on the cross, even without the figure of the Crucified Jesus. Furthermore, such a cross is traditionally seen as a sign of triumph, an instrument of the Savior’s victory.
The Cross of Calvary is complemented by the brief inscriptions found at the ends of the bars, which serve to glorify Jesus: Цр7ь Сл7вы (“King of Glory”) at the top, I&С Х&С (“Jesus Christ”) along the horizontal bar and МЛРБ, or “место лобно рай бысть” (“the place of execution has become paradise“), at the bottom. The sloping edges of the bars are decorated along the entire perimeter with floral ornaments in the style of the 16th – 17th centuries, indicating that the Cross is the Tree of Life.
On the reverse one can see the prayer to the Holy Cross in Church Slavonic:
(“Rejoice, O Honorable and Life-Giving Cross of the Lord, Thou who cast out demons by the power of the crucified Lord, who descended into hell and destroyed the devil’s power, and gave us Thee, His Holy Cross, to drive out every enemy. O Honorable and Life-Giving Cross of the Lord, help me…”)