Author Topic: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?  (Read 3874 times)

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Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« on: January 27, 2009, 02:17:45 AM »


I was considering ordering one of these to place in my icon corner, but I just do not know if this icon is appropriate for Orthodox Christians as it is only an important icon in the Roman Catholic Church.

I have observed myself and also read in many places that the crucifix is in the Byzantine style.  So could this have been an icon in use in the Orthodox lands before the schism, or is it specifically a Western icon that communicates Latin theological concepts?  Are all persons and events depicted in accordance with Orthodox theology, and should I feel free to purchase, venerated, and have this image blessed by my priest?

Offline SolEX01

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2009, 02:39:11 AM »
I have a 2" version of the similar icon hanging in the kitchen.  I think of it more as a trinket than as an icon especially with the hand coming down from the top of the cross.

Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2009, 01:29:44 PM »
So does the hand coming down at the top of the icon violation Orthodox canons on iconography?

Offline witega

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2009, 01:50:41 PM »
I can't really make out what is written above Christ's head, but assuming it's some version of the sign Pilate placed over his head or otherwise an accurate statement, I see nothing 'unOrthodox' about this cross.

It's shape is kind of a 'modified byzantine' (a 'byzantine cross' generally has 3 bars, the main one and then 2 smaller ones at top and bottom representing Pilate's sign and the footrest respectively) which makes it look a bit odd to my eyes--but that doesn't invalidate its reality as a icon of Christ. I have seen far more stylized crosses used as baptismal crosses or decorating churches and they are still venerated properly due to what they represent.
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2009, 02:07:31 PM »
So does the hand coming down at the top of the icon violation Orthodox canons on iconography?
No.
And I challenge anyone to produce a Canon that says it does.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2009, 02:18:05 PM by ozgeorge »
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2009, 02:12:02 PM »
I can't really make out what is written above Christ's head,
It says "IHS NAZARE REX IVDEORV" ("Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudeorum"), Latin for "Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews".

It's shape is kind of a 'modified byzantine' (a 'byzantine cross' generally has 3 bars, the main one and then 2 smaller ones at top and bottom representing Pilate's sign and the footrest respectively)
Actually, no. The three bar Cross with the slanting footrest is Russian in origin, not "Byzantine".
« Last Edit: January 27, 2009, 02:16:14 PM by ozgeorge »
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Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2009, 02:39:04 PM »
Actually, no. The three bar Cross with the slanting footrest is Russian in origin, not "Byzantine."

Yeah, I figured that out on my own.  I just observed that all things Greek Orthodox lacked this distinctive cross shape.

Regarding the San Damiano Crucifix, Something about it just strikes me as particularly beautiful.  However, I thought I recalled encountering some Orthodox believers equating this icon to some "demonic" elements of the vision of Francis of Assisi.  This is probably just nonsense, but I thought that I would check before making a purchase.

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2009, 02:45:48 PM »
Regarding the San Damiano Crucifix, Something about it just strikes me as particularly beautiful. 
That's probably because of it's beautiful Iconography!
The black "crossbar" actually represents the Empty Tomb- i.e., the Resurrection; and at the top, is the Ascension. So, in the one icon, you have the Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. Personally, it reminds me that there is no Resurrection without Golgotha, and Golgotha is meaningless without the Resurrection.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2009, 02:46:20 PM by ozgeorge »
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Offline ialmisry

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2009, 02:51:46 PM »
So does the hand coming down at the top of the icon violation Orthodox canons on iconography?

No, it's quite common, and from ancient times.

The Cross is quite Orthodox, no matter the origin.  Our Church gave them to the children a few years back on St. Nicholas day.
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Offline Schultz

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2009, 03:02:27 PM »
My wife gave me one for Christmas when we were dating.  I love it.  It's in our bedroom now.
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2009, 03:03:29 PM »
The Cross is quite Orthodox, no matter the origin. 
Actually a Tertiary Franciscan scholarly friend who I consulted about the San Damiano Cross in relation to another question on the forum about it ( http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,19339.msg285700.html#msg285700 ), tells me that Serbian Orthodox monastics brought Iconography to Umbria in the 11th century, and the San Damiano Cross is an example of this.
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Offline SolEX01

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2009, 05:58:14 PM »
So does the hand coming down at the top of the icon violation Orthodox canons on iconography?
No.
And I challenge anyone to produce a Canon that says it does.

Just curious, why is the hand coming down from nowhere canonical and what distinguishes the hand from God and Adam in the Sistene Chapel?

Offline Monk Vasyl

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2009, 06:18:35 PM »
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember seeing some Orthodox icons with a hand like that.  I think it represents God, the Father.
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Offline scamandrius

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2009, 07:00:38 PM »
So does the hand coming down at the top of the icon violation Orthodox canons on iconography?
No.
And I challenge anyone to produce a Canon that says it does.

Just curious, why is the hand coming down from nowhere canonical and what distinguishes the hand from God and Adam in the Sistene Chapel?

The reason it is canonical is because no can see the face of God (i.e. the Father) and live but how many references are there to God stretching out his hands to perform wonders and destruction?  The distinction with the Sistine Chapel is that God the Father is actually represented, face and body and all, and that is strictly prohibited by the canons.
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2009, 07:13:14 PM »
The distinction with the Sistine Chapel is that God the Father is actually represented, face and body and all, and that is strictly prohibited by the canons.

Where do you people get these ideas? The Canons say NO SUCH THING except in a local synod of Moscow, most of which has had it's decrees revoked.
Here's what the Church ACTUALLY teaches.

"St. Gregory Palamas, commenting on the Patriarch Jacob's words: "I have seen God face to face [or person to person], and my soul has been saved", writes: "Let [the cacodox] hear that Jacob saw the face of God, and not only was his life not taken away, but as he himself says, it was saved, in spite of the fact that God says: 'None shall see My face and live'. Are there then two Gods, one having His face accessible to the vision of the saints, and the other having His face beyond all vision? Perish the impiety! The face of God which is seen is the Energy and Grace of God condescending to appear to those who are worthy; while the face of God that is never seen, which is beyond all appearance and vision let us call the Nature of God.".......Thus the Seventh Ecumenical Council declares: "Eternal be the memory of those who know and accept and believe the visions of the prophets as the Divinity Himself shaped and impressed them, whatever the chorus of the prophets saw and narrated, and who hold to the written and unwritten tradition of the Apostles which was passed on to the Fathers, and on account of this make icons of the Holy things and honour them." And again: "Anathema to those who do not accept the visions of the prophets and who reject the iconographies which have been seen by them (O wonder!) even before the Incarnation of the Word, but either speak empty words about having seen the unattainable and unseen Essence, or on the one hand pay heed to those who have seen these appearances of icons, types and forms of the truth, while on the other hand they cannot bear to have icons made of the Word become man and His sufferings on our behalf." Thus the Seventh Ecumenical Council declares: "Eternal be the memory of those who know and accept and believe the visions of the prophets as the Divinity Himself shaped and impressed them, whatever the chorus of the prophets saw and narrated, and who hold to the written and unwritten tradition of the Apostles which was passed on to the Fathers, and on account of this make icons of the Holy things and honour them." And again: "Anathema to those who do not accept the visions of the prophets and who reject the iconographies which have been seen by them (O wonder!) even before the Incarnation of the Word, but either speak empty words about having seen the unattainable and unseen Essence, or on the one hand pay heed to those who have seen these appearances of icons, types and forms of the truth, while on the other hand they cannot bear to have icons made of the Word become man and His sufferings on our behalf." St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite, in his prolegomena to the Seventh Ecumenical Council, sums up the Council's decrees on this subject as follows: "The present Council, in the letter which it sent to the Church of Alexandria, on the one hand blesses those who know and accept, and therefore make icons of and honour, the visions and theophanies of the Prophets, as God Himself shaped and impressed them on their minds. And on the other hand it anathematizes those who do not accept the iconographies of such visions before the incarnation of God the Word. It follows that the Beginningless Father must be represented in icons as He appeared to the Prophet Daniel, as the Ancient of Days.""
Source.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2009, 07:15:47 PM by ozgeorge »
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Offline LBK

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2009, 11:28:15 PM »
Quote
St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite, in his prolegomena to the Seventh Ecumenical Council, sums up the Council's decrees on this subject as follows:

Interesting double standard we have here. On the one hand, ozgeorge relies on the interpretation from The Rudder to back his claim, yet when I have used Rudder interpretations (such as on the prohibition of statues), PtA deems this as "merely the interpretation of one man", and not necessarily the expression of "the mind of the Church". What'll it be, fellas? You both can't be right!
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2009, 12:10:02 AM »
What'll it be, fellas? You both can't be right!
Always just assume that I'm right, and you'll avoid the rush. :D
Seriously though, you're talking about completely unrelated things.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2009, 12:11:05 AM by ozgeorge »
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Offline Jakub

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2009, 01:37:33 AM »
I do prefer the San Damiano Cross...
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Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2009, 01:46:41 AM »
I do prefer the San Damiano Cross...

You prefer it to what?

Offline Jakub

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2009, 01:58:34 AM »
^ To the majority of the many used by the West...
An old timer is a man who's had a lot of interesting experiences -- some of them true.

Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2009, 02:04:26 AM »
To the majority of the many used by the West...

Oh, are you a Roman Catholic?

Offline Jakub

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2009, 02:12:19 AM »
Yes...and not of the new order
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Offline ignatius

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2009, 10:17:19 AM »
The Cross is quite Orthodox, no matter the origin. 
Actually a Tertiary Franciscan scholarly friend who I consulted about the San Damiano Cross in relation to another question on the forum about it ( http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,19339.msg285700.html#msg285700 ), tells me that Serbian Orthodox monastics brought Iconography to Umbria in the 11th century, and the San Damiano Cross is an example of this.

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I have one above the rest of my icons in my little icon 'wall'... it's not a corner because that wall faces due east. Only one in the house and it faces due east. Was someone telling me something?  ;)
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Offline Monk Vasyl

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Re: Is the San Damiano Crucifix Orthodox?
« Reply #23 on: January 28, 2009, 10:36:47 AM »
I also have a San Damiano crucifix, it was my Profession cross when I made my Simple Profession as a Franciscan back in 1975.  I also still have the cord, for my habit (the habit was returned when I left) that one of our friars got for me from Assisi.  So I have 2 Profession crosses...one Catholic and one Orthodox.
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