Pectoral cross.

The well-known Russian Orthodox priest image man with long hair, an impressive beard, in a black cassock, like a hoodie.Another important symbol of priestly dignity - cross hanging on his chest or abdomen.In fact, the representation of the people in the cross - is what makes the priest cleric, at least in the social sense.On this important attribute of the religious service, and will be discussed below.

Priestly cross in the modern practice of the Russian Orthodox Church

The first thing to say is that the pectoral cross of the priest, so well known in Russia, is almost never used in the churches of the Greek tradition of the East.It is in our country has become a priest attribute not so long ago - in the late XIX-early XX centuries.Before that priests did not wear a pectoral cross.And if they put on, and it was only some special occasion.

Today, every priest the subject is given immediately upon ordination, as part of the obligatory vestments and insignia of the other members of the hierarchy.The service was the clergy wear it on top of the special vestments, and in normal times - over the cassock or his cassock.There are several varieties pectoral cross: silver, gold and jewelry.But this will be discussed below.

encolpion - the ancestor of the priestly cross

first ancestor of the modern priests are the subject of the cross, called encolpion.It is an ark, that is a little box on the front side of which in ancient times was portrayed chrism - the monogram of the name of Jesus Christ.A little later instead were placed on encolpion way of the cross.This item was worn on the chest, and played the role of the vessel in which it was possible to hide something valuable: manuscript books, relics, holy communion and so on.

The earliest evidence of encolpion, we have, belongs to the IV century - on this subject says the patriarch of Constantinople, John, known in church circles as St. John Chrysostom.Vatican during the excavation of the local Christian burial was found a few encolpion, also under the IV century.

Later they were transformed from hollow rectangular boxes into hollow crosses, while maintaining its function.However, they were subjected to a more careful artistic treatment.And soon they were adopted as the attributes of the episcopal dignity and Byzantine emperors.The same practice adopted later Russian kings and bishops who survived the Roman Empire.As for the emperor, then it canceled the tradition only Emperor Peter the Great.The church was baptized-encolpion were some monks, and sometimes even laymen.Often, the subject becomes an attribute of the pilgrims.

Distribution crosses

In the XVIII century encolpion almost universally out of use.Instead, they began to use metal crosses without cavities inside.At the same time the right to wear a pectoral cross for the first time was given to the bishops.Since the forties of the same century that right vested in the Russian monks priests to the rank of Archimandrite, but only if they are members of the Holy Synod.

But a year later, namely in 1742-m, the opportunity to wear a pectoral cross are becoming archimandrites general.This occurred following the example of the Kyiv Metropolis, where this practice spread spontaneously even before the formal adoption.

establishment of the right to wear white crosses priests

White, the married clergy have received the right to wear a pectoral cross at the end of the XVIII century.Of course, not everyone is allowed immediately.First Emperor Paul introduced this attribute as a church award for priests.It can be obtained for any merit.For example, a particular sample of the cross was given many priests in 1814 to commemorate the victory two years earlier over the French army.From 1820 the first crosses have also given to the priests, who were his service abroad or in the royal court.However, the right to wear this subject and could deprive if the cleric has served in place less than seven years.In other cases, a pectoral cross remained in Priest forever.

cross as a distinctive sign of learning Russian clergy

In the XIX - early XX centuries, there was an interesting experience to give priests crosses in accordance with a degree they had.Pectoral cross with the trusted doctorate.And the candidates and masters content with these objects, attaching them to his lapel collar robes.

gradually wearing a pectoral cross has become the norm for all the priests in the Russian Church.The last line under that process had Emperor Nicholas II, who commanded a special decree in honor of the coronation of all priests to award the right to wear a silver eight-pointed cross of the established sample.Since then it has become an integral tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Types crosses

As mentioned above, crosses different from each other.The above-described silver Nicholas Cross - is the attribute with which the clergyman began his career as a clergyman.For services to the church or his seniority may award the right to wear a gold, four-cross.With him is a priest as long as there is no elevated to the rank of archpriest.When this occurs, it is possible to receive the following awards - pectoral cross with ornaments.

This species is usually richly inlaid with precious stones and, in principle, does not differ from the paraphernalia worn by bishops.Usually at this award in pectorals end.Sometimes, however, some clergy are given the right to wear a cross just two.Another, a very rare award - a gold cross of the patriarch.But this honor awarded to just one.Since 2011, there was, or rather was restored pectoral cross, called the doctor's.In his hands, respectively, to the priests, having a doctorate in theology.

pectoral cross

As for the cross, which is also worn on the chest, then it is given to each newly baptized Christian.It is usually worn under clothing, since it is not an ornament, but as a symbol of religious identity.And called in the first place to remind its owner of his Christian duties.