The cross is of a simple traditional shape. According to the canon the icon of our Lord Jesus Christ is the central image of its obverse. On the reverse we see the Most Holy Mother of God.
The Almighty being portrayed on the obverse is the most ancient iconography. Just in such a way – with His right hand in a benedictive gesture, and with a book in His left hand – Jesus Christ is pictured on the first icon from among those reached us that is kept at Mount Sinai. The image of the Lord Almighty is surrounded with four raised icons. These are the images of the saints whose names are connected with the history of the Russian Orthodoxy formation.
Christianity became the established religion of Russia in 988 under Grand Prince St. Vladimir, Equal-to-the-Apls (+1015) nicknamed “Gorgeous Sun”. His icon is put at the cross root. We see the holy Prince against the cathedral background, having a cross and a scroll in his hands, which symbolize Christianity that he imposed in Russia.
However Christianity started spreading in Russia long before St. Vladimir. His Grandmother, St. Olga, Equal-to-the-Apls (+ 969) was of importance in it. Her icon is on the left. St. Olga got baptized in Constantinople in 955 and by 988 Christian communities and churches were founded not only in large cities but in smaller Russian settlements due to her enlightener activities.
The Orthodoxy spread rapidly in Russia, and shortly acquired national traits. Thirty years later home saints had already appeared there who gave new images of sanctity to the Universal Church – passion bearing and being the most Orthodox. St. Prince Andrew of Bogolyubovo (+1174) and St. Prince Igor of Chernigov (+1147) were such peculiar Russian saints. We see both images on the cross. Commencement of the peculiar veneration of the Most Holy Mother of God in Russia is associated with these Princes. St. Prince Andrew of Bogolyubovo (on the right) had multitude of churches been built in honor of the Mother of God and was the first to take the icon of Her to a campaign. St. Prince Igor of Chernigov (above) took monastic vows and became famous for his ascetic discipline before the icon of the Mother of God that had been named after him since his death of a martyr.
The cross reverse is completely occupied by the Mother of God icon “the Indestructible Wall” – the eldest and the most hallowed Russian object of worship. Its prototype was made in mosaic technique on the wall of the altar apse of the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev built under St. Vladimir. That is a majestic image of the Mother of God as Orant with Her hand raised in prayer. During many centuries the image had been never copied. Kiev and its principal cathedral endured numerous calamities from various enemies and. But the holy icon remained unharmed protecting everyone who resorted to its help. For its miraculous invincibility the icon was called “the Indestructible Wall” and people caught the fancy of it so that there appeared copies of it, many of which themselves became famous for wonder working. The icon is especially worshipped as a protector from enemies and a rescuer in mortal danger. It is commemorated on May 31/June 12 and on All Saints Sunday.