Comprised of an orb topped with a cross, Globus Cruciger is a Christian symbol that has been used since the Middle Ages to emphasize the dominion of Christianity over the world. The cross is representative of Christ and his sacrifice, while the orb or globe represents the world. Together, they symbolize the triumph of Christ over the world. This composite symbol is also known as the Cross Triumphant and has been used in iconography, coins as well as royal regalia
Even before Christianity, the Pagans used the globe as a symbol of authority. Holding it in one’s hands or having it under the foot was a clear visual message of established power or supremacy over the world. The Romans appear to have been quite familiar with this symbol as suggested by a 2nd-century coin belonging to Emperor Hadrian’s reign that carried the Roman God, Salus shown with a foot placed on a globe, or a 4th-century coin from Emperor Constantine I’s reign that depicts him with a globe in hand.
The spread of Christianity led to modification of the orb symbol, with a cross added atop the globe to send across a message about Christ’s dominance over the world. It was adopted by powerful Christian rulers and made a part of royal regalia, symbolizing that the Emperor or King controlled the world on behalf of the Lord. The symbol is still seen on the national arms of some existing European monarchies.
During the Renaissance, the symbol found use in the Western art and was included in portraits of Jesus Christ. When Christ himself is depicted as holding the Globus Cruciger, the subject is called Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World).
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