The Patriarchal Cross (French/heraldic: Patriarcale), with or without a Corpus, is a cross (such as a Latin Cross or Budded Cross) with an additional cross-beam.
Other names include:
- Archiepiscopal Cross
- Archbishop's Cross
- Metropolitan Cross1
- Double Cross2
This cross is often confused with the Cross of Lorraine, which originates from the Patriarchal Cross.
There are several explanations for this 'extra' beam:
- The most popular idea is that the upper beam, also seen on the Russian and Eastern Orthodox cross, represents the plaque bearing the name of the crucified victim. For example, Pontius Pilate's inscription "Jesus the Nazorean, King of the Jews" (see INRI). Such a plaque is known in Latin as titulus cruces and therefore this form is sometimes called the Titulus Cross.
- Another explanation is that the first beam represents the death of Jesus Christ and the second beam his resurrection.
- A third view is that the first beam symbolises secular power and the second beam the ecclesiastic power of Byzantine emperors. In the 9th century, this was a political symbol used by Byzantine clerks and missionaries.
Occasionally, the shorter crossbeam is diagonal, near the bottom, similar to the lower beam of the Orthodox Cross.
- Where the lower beam is diagonal, it commonly represents a foot-support (see suppedaneum) angled like a balance scale showing the good thief, St. Dismas, having accepted Christ would ascend to heaven and be on God's right hand, while the thief who mocked Jesus would descend to hell.
With this ruler/shepherd image in mind, it was adopted for use as a Patriarchal Cross and included in the heraldic arms of an archbishop. It is also frequently used as a crozier.
In Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, 'Patriarch' is the title of a bishop who has the highest juridical rank.3
This cross was the arms of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, who granted its use to the Knights Templar. The Duke of Lorraine, Godefroy de Boullion, used it for his standard when he took part in the capture of Jerusalem. The cross was then passed on to his successors as heraldic arms and became known as the Cross of Lorraine.
In ecclesiastical processions an archbishop is preceded by a cross-bearer. Such Processional Patriarchal Crosses are silver or gilded and bear a Corpus. The cross is carried with the figure turned towards the archbishop.
In Freemasonry, the Patriarchal Cross is often angled like the St. Gilbert Cross.4