Cross The statement of Bede relating to the four kinds of wood of which the cross of Christ was made-the upright of cypress, the cross-piece of cedar, the head-piece of fir, and the foot-support of box-de parts from the Eastern tradition, which substitutes olive and palm for the two latter varieties of wood. SEE CROSS, CHRISTS.
The private use of crosses, or representations of the cross, is highly uncertain before Constantine, though Martigny refers to Perret for certain stones, apparently belonging to rings, on which the cross is engraved, and which appear to be of date prior to Constantine. It seems probable that the use of the monogram prevailed before and during his time, with sacrificial meaning attaching more and more to the cruciform in the Christian mind. SEE MONOGRAM OF CHRIST.
The term "station-cross" is derived from the Roman military term statio, and applied to a large cross on the chief altar, or in some principal part of a church, but occasionally removed or carried in procession to another spot, and then constituting a special place of prayer. Processional crosses may be traced to the use of the Labarum in Constantine's army, and also to his substitution of the cross for the dragon, or placing it above the dragon on standards of cohorts, etc. SEE STATION.
Cross as an architectural ornament in churches and religious edifices, was almost always placed upon the points of the gables, the form varying considerably, according to the style of the architecture and the character of the building; many of these crosses are extremely elegant and ornamental; it was also very frequently carved on gravestones, and was introduced in various ways among the decorations of churches.
A small cross (which was often a crucifix) was placed upon the altar, and was usually of a costly material, and sometimes of the most elaborate workmanship, enriched with jewels; crosses were also Warmington, Northants, A.D. 1250, carried in religious processions upon long staves. A large cross with the figure attached, called the rood, was placed over the main entrance of the chancel in every church.
It was formerly the custom in Great Britain, as it still is in Roman Catholic countries, to erect crosses in cemeteries, by the road-side, and in the market-places and open spaces in towns and villages, of which numerous examples remain, though, with the exception of the market, crosses, Merton College Chapel, AD. 1450, most of them are greatly defaced: those in cemeteries and by the way-side were generally simple structures, raised on a few steps, consisting of a tall shaft, with sometimes a few mouldings to form a base, and a cross on the top; in some instances they had small niches or other ornaments round the top of the shaft, below the cross; the village crosses appear generally to have been of the same simple description, but sometimes they were more important erections. Market crosses were usually polygonal buildings with an open archway on each of the sides, and vaulted within, large enough to afford shelter to a considerable number of persons of these good examples remain at Malmesbury, Salisbury, Chichester, Glastonbury, etc. Crosses were also erected in commemoration of remarkable occurrences, of which Queen Eleanor's crosses are beautiful examples; these are memorials of the places at which her corpse rested each night on its journey to Westminster for interment.
The cross was a favorite form for the plan of churches; and great numbers are built in this shape, the Western churches mostly following, the Latin form of cross, the Byzantine churches following the Greek form, i.e., with the chancel, nave, and. two transepts all of equal length.