The past few weeks my blog has touched on crowns, tiaras, and diadems. These are items of beauty as well as value that people of authority and royalty wear, especially in past centuries. In the context of treasure they are indeed items to be sought. That is why many illustrations in religious writings use the context of crowns to convey a message. For example, in Islamic teachings, a Crown of Pearls in the afterlife awaits those who have lived honorably for God in this life.
In the Old Testament the High Priests in the tabernacle wore crowns as they eventually would in the Temple. The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah had rulers who for hundreds of years wore crowns. The New Testament writers spoke of a crown of glory, a crown of life, and a crown of righteousness. I often think of this image of a crown of righteousness. Paul in the book of Ephesians speaks of the armor of a Christian. He uses the image of a soldier. The sword represents the Word of God, the shield represents faith, while the belt represents truth. The soldier also wears a breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation.
This image of righteousness is intriguing to me. Christ offered himself as a sacrifice in order for us to have the opportunity to be presented as righteous before God. I can envision a Roman helmet, but I ask you this. What is your image of a crown of glory or a crown of righteousness? Is it a Halo? Is it a gold diadem? It may be hard to describe what a crown of righteousness would look, and that is fine. The point is righteousness. What does that look like? Again, different images come to the minds of different people. Let me share with you images that are on my heart.
When Jesus lived as an adult, the absolute ruler was Tiberius, Emperor of Rome. He had absolute power and lived a life of opulence and indulgence. The later years of his life he lived secluded on an island with a predilection to sex. It has been written that he preferred young males and after a period of time would discard them by having them thrown over a cliff. Sounds like a depraved, evil existence. Contrast that with Jesus who walked and lived among ordinary people often staying in their houses. He chose to use his power to give to others by teaching, sharing his food, and healing. Not to mention the greatest gift of all, a crown of righteousness given to each of us if we choose to accept it. The next time you wonder if it would be cool to be rich, famous or have royalty, remember that it is not unusual to ponder such thoughts. It is also not inherently wrong to be rich, just that it is often a trap and can be destructive spiritually as it was for Tiberius who had it all in this life. During this Christmas season of gift giving remember Christ’s gift for each of us, the gift of life, a crown of righteousness.
A tiara is something that I seldom use in conversation, and I cannot ever recall talking about a diadem. Both are a type of crown symbolizing royalty and power. I work with women and I have heard them use tiara occasionally such as giving a young girl a tiara to wear when dressing up as a princess. I asked them what a tiara was, and they said it was like a small crown that women wear. I admit I do not have an extensive vocabulary, but a diadem is something I must have seen at some point in print while reading and yet it was not until I was writing this blog that I learned about diadems.
I wrote a blog about the Czar’s crowns last week and was going to follow with something about Caesar’s crowns. Caesar means Czar in Russian and Caesar means Kaiser in German. It was a good ‘lead in’ to talk about what the Caesar’s of Rome wore on their heads. Before I began to write I could not think of any crowns they actual wore in Rome, only some wreaths. As I did my internet research I was correct. The emperors of Rome wore no crowns.
Rome was Republic for almost 400 years without Caesars before Julius Caesar became the first ruling Caesar. The people of Rome did not want a king. In the Shakespeare play, Julius Caesar, he is offered a crown by Marc Anthony, but refuses to wear one. It would have alienated the people towards his rule. Caesar had his power and did not need a crown to prove it. During his reign in other parts of the world such as Egypt the kings and queens wore crowns but had little power. And then of course there were the kings in the Middle East that wore their crowns such as King Herod who reigned during the time of Christ.
I now realize the wreaths were worn for centuries by the Caesars. It was not until very late in the history of the Roman Empire that they began to wear tiaras. They are also described as wearing diadems, a word I seldom if ever hear. It comes from the Geek meaning to bind around or fasten. The ancient Greeks had hundreds of years of freedom without kings and rulers before they were united under Alexander the Great. They also did not have leading authorites wearing crowns. Some of the statues and icons that the citizens of Greece had for their gods showed them wearing diadems. A minority of citizens of stature within Greek culture chose to where diadems which were made of ornate cloth or silk. As centuries passed gold bands were added. Not as big as a crown perhaps but basically a crown nevertheless. This may be why we just say they wore crowns.
When one speaks of treasure I suppose there are a number of images that can come to mind: pirates, gold mines, treasure chests, diamond necklaces. A king’s gold crown with lots of diamonds would capture the imagination of most of us. King Solomon and King David in the Old Testament probably had a cool crowns. I often think of the Kings of England as having showy and pricey crowns. However, it is the crowns of Imperial Russia, the Czar’s crowns, as probably being the most elaborate. The Great Imperial Crown above was made for the coronation of Catherine II in 1762. The red gem at the the top weighs almost 400 carats. The rest of the crown has over 5,000 diamonds.
The Imperial Orb was also made for Emperess Catherine II. The blue sapphire weighs 47 carats. The crowns made for the Czar’s dynasty were quite obviously some the best crafted the world has ever known. The chances of ever finding a lost crown of one of the Czar’s is only fantasy. I included the Czar’s crown as one of the treasures to be captured while playing the game Treasure Trove because the idea of ever finding a lost crown would indeed be something.
Below is part of the game board for Treasure Trove where I placed Czar’s Crown