The significance of the cross in the Christian world is truly immense: together with the Resurrection of Christ, those are the basic axes underlying Christian life. The Cross and the Resurrection are inextricably linked: the former foretells the latter, and the latter follows the former. There is not and cannot be the Resurrection without the cross.
A Symbol of Life
Death by crucifixion was once equated with a curse, and so those executed on the cross were considered to be cursed. This was the case before Jesus Christ accepted death by crucifixion. After that, the cross took on an entirely different meaning: from an instrument of death, it became a symbol of life. What was once an instrument of the executioners is now symbolizing for us the eternal source of life.
Such a paradoxical metamorphosis was produced by God's all-encompassing love and mercy, where anger and hatred have no place. God's ultimate love and eternal mercy gave us eternal life, redeeming us from sin. And for over 2,000 years the cross symbolizes for us not an instrument of evil, but of defense against it.
In his epistles, Paul the Apostle emphasized this more than once: "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6:14), for "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (Corinthians 1:18).
The shape of the cross is also symbolic: its two crossbars symbolize the union of God with men (vertical) and men with one another (horizontal). Today Christians proudly wear the cross to commemorate the great atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Pieces of holy and Life-giving wood Cross on Mount Athos
The largest piece of the Holy Cross in the world is kept in the monastery of Xeropotamou on Mount Athos, being one of the greatest shrines of this monastery. Its dimensions are 16x31x2.5 cm. The relic was once brought as a gift to the saint Paul of Xeropotamou from the Emperor Romanos I Lekapenos.
The piece of the Holy Cross is kept in a special casket, encrusted with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. The inner surface, where the relic is located, has the shape of a cross framed in metal. In its center, the figure of the Son of God crucified on the cross is depicted, made of smalt. The interior of the casket is decorated with images of saints, and the exterior with images of the 40 martyrs who once helped restore the monastery after a fire.
The casket was a gift to the monastery from "Constantine, Euphrosyne and Descendants", as evidenced by the inscription engraved on it.
Smaller pieces of the Holy Cross are kept in every monastery of the Holy Mountain. These relics are especially revered here, for this Wood was touched by the body of Christ. Therefore, when pilgrims kneel before the shrines of the monasteries, the Holy Cross is the first relic to kneel before.
How to get an Orthodox cross from Mount Athos
The monks on the Holy Mount Athos make wooden, ceramic or woven crosses. As with any monastic handicraft, their work is accompanied by unwavering prayer.
In our online store you can buy handmade Orthodox crosses for home, car, as well as neck crosses and baptismal crosses, made by the monks of the Holy Mountain.
Life-giving cross prayer
May God be resurrected, and His enemies be scattered, and may those who hate Him flee from His face. As the smoke disappears, let it disappear; As the wax melts away from the face of the fire, so will the demons from the face of those who love God and sign the sign of the cross, and in the joy of the verbs: Rejoice, Most Honorable and Life-Giving Lord’s Cross, cast out demons by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ upon you, come to hell to the devil, and who gave us His Cross to Honest you to drive away every foe. O Honorable and Life-giving Cross of the Lord! Help me with the Holy Virgin Lady, and with all the saints for ever. Amen".