SILVER AND BRASS

You may rcall that somewhere in the dark backward and abyss of time (well, actually October 27th, 2011), I included mention of priests’ pectoral crosses in a posting.  I wrote:

” … one often finds on the reverse of silver crosses worn by priests (in the latter part of the 19th century and the early 20th century) these words from I Timothy 4:12: “Be you an example to the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity”  (Образ буди верным словом, житием, любовию, духом, верою, чистотою / Obraz budi vyernuim’ slovom’, zhitiem’, liuboviu, vyeroiu, chistotoiu“).

This was good advice, because at that time there was considerable controversy over misbehavior by Russian Orthodox priests, a good number of whom were given to extorting money from the poor for religious services and/or given to drunkenness.  On such crosses, one also finds this abbreviation on the back:
Н
II
That stands for Nikolai II — Tsar Nicholas II.  With that is “Year 1896” (in Cyrillic letter-numbers), and “May, 14[th] day.”  That is the date on which Tsar Nicholas II decreed that such a silver pectoral cross was to be given to all priests.”

You will note that I talked only of “silver crosses.”  Well, a reader kindly shared these photos of a similar cross that is brass, not silver.  The cast inscription is not nearly as clear and sharp as one finds on the silver crosses, but this one is interesting nonetheless — because up to now, all I have seen were the “official” silver crosses.  So it is very likely that these brass versions are later — perhaps even recent — castings.  As one reader pointed out, crosses like this are still being made and sold — for example by the Chevetogne Monastery in Belgium.

It is worth keeping in mind that the date on the crosses is NOT the date when a cross was made, but rather — as already mentioned — the date of the Tsar’s decree.

So here are the translations, with some repetition of what I have already written:

Here is the front:

The inscriptions are, from top:

Гдь, Црь, Слвы» / Господь – Царь Славы /Gospod’ Tsar’ Slavui /”Lord” — “King of Glory.”

On the “headboard”:
IНЦИ
I N TS I — which abbreviates the Church Slavic words for “Jesus (I) of Nazareth (N), King (TS) of the Jews (I) — Иисус Назарянин, Царь Иудейский /Iisus Nazaryanin’ Tsar Iudeiskiy in the State Church spelling.

Then the IС, ХC abbreviation for Иисус Христос /Iisus Khristos (again, State Church spelling) — “Jesus Christ.”

Near the base, we see a skull and its abbreviated inscription Г А  for ГОЛОВА АДАМА/Golova Adama — “Head of Adam.”

And at the base below the skull of Adam is the Greek abbreviation NIKA — “He conquers.”

And here is the reverse:

The main inscription says:

Образ буди верным словом, житием, любовию, духом, верою, чистотою
Obraz budi vyernuim’ slovom’, zhitiem’, liuboviu, vyeroiu, chistotoiu

“Be you an example to the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

Below that is the location of the quote, which is I Timothy 4:12 — but it looks like the maker of this example got the verse number a bit off).

Below that is a crown and:

Н
II

That stands for Nikolai II — Tsar Nicholas II. Below that is
Лета [Лето]/Leta/”Year ,” and below that 1896 in Cyrillic letter-numbers. and below that,  мая 14 дня/Maiya 14 Dnya / “May, 14[th] day.” Again, the maker got the lettering a bit off, but that is what it was intended to mean. That is the date both of the Tsar’s coronation and of the promulgation of the State decree that such a pectoral cross — but in silver, not brass — was to be given to all priests.

 

 

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