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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

> On Sun, 14 Sep 2008 12:48:44 +0100, Rosemary Hayes-Milligan and Andrew
> Milligan wrote:
> 
> >At Mass today, we were told that the Cross was seen as shameful until
> >Helena found it in Jerusalem (326?), when the 'true' cross of the
> >three found healed and was so identified.  Does this fit in at all
> >with the earlier queries about the time the Cross began to appear in
> >iconography?
> 
> >Regards
> >Rosemary Hayes 
> 
> Based on my (sometimes obcessive and off-subject) research, no, the
> cross itself does not seem to have been a shameful symbol avoided by
> pre- Constantinian Christians.

Constantine, I believe, outlawed crucifixion as a judicial punishment in the Roman Empire, 
one assumes specifically because of his adoption of Christian belief.  Until that time, it was 
reserved for the lowest sort of criminal and must have carried some degree of social stigma.  
Constantine also popularized the chi-rho monogram, by putting it on Roman military 
standards and the odd coin.  This, of course, is taken to be the "sign" by which, in a dream 
vision, Constantine was told he could win the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312, and I believe 
there is some debate as to whether this sign included or incorporated a cross, as it does in 
some later instances.  Whatever the situation with crosses, however, Christ's crucifixion itself 
only began to be depicted as late as the 5th century, presumably when its social stigma had 
safely been forgotten.
Cheers,
Jim Bugslag

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