Ancient Cross #08 "Fish"
The original pendant seen below is made of a lead alloy and was likely made sometime between the 6th and 7th century A.D. This one, in particular, is an outlier in our collection. It appears to be an effigy of a fish, perhaps stylized to also represent a cross. The symbol of a fish was used regularly in the first and second-century churches as a method of covert communication among believers. At the time, Christians were under heavy persecution from the government and could not meet openly. Thus, the symbol of a fish was often placed on the walls and/or gateposts of houses where a church might be meeting or where a Christian might find safety and hospitality. The symbol of a fish was used for two reasons. The first is in reference to what Christ told Peter and Andrew in Matt 4:19 and Mark 1:17 when He told them He would make them 'fishers of men.' The second reason is that the word for fish in Greek (Icthys) could be used as an acrostic for "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour." This use of the fish in Christian iconography persists to this day, in the form of our "Jesus Fish."
Here, we have reproduced this pendant in Sterling Silver and bronze, with various patinas, and have added a variety of embellishments.* Get your piece of history today!
Dimensions: 37.5 x 24 MM (1.5 x 1 in.)
*Surface finishes and embellishments are all hand-applied and may not match the image.
A History of Cross Pendants
Christians have used the symbol of the cross to identify with Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection for millennia. The first references to this symbolic relationship were arguably made by Christ himself, which He made on at least two separate occasions when He said, "If anyone would follow me, he must deny himself, take up His cross, and follow me." (Matt 16:24, Mar 8:34, Luk 9:23)** and "Whoever does not bear his own cross, and follow me cannot be my disciple." (Matt 10:38, Luk 14:27)** It is noteworthy that Christ said these things before He was crucified.
However, Christians did not wear the cross as a pendant until approximately the 4th century A.D. when Constantine and Licinius issued The Edict of Milan, granting Christianity a legal status. Around this time, many Christians, now free from the threat of persecution, began wearing crosses as a way to identify with Christ. Thus began a tradition that continues to this day!
Most of our collection's original, ancient crosses date from between the 5th and 7th centuries and are either lead or bronze. They likely would have been worn by persons of lower social status, as evidenced by the materials used in their construction. Many of these pendants were probably made by their original wearer, sometimes by scratching a rudimentary design into the sand and pouring molten lead into the resulting mold. Several may have been produced and worn by soldiers at the time!
**Scriptural references are paraphrased from the ESV