Due to the self-sacrifice of the Savior Jesus Christ, who with this act redeemed the world from sin, in Christian doctrine, among other things, the cross becomes a symbol of salvation. In Macedonia, which is mentioned several times in the Bible, the role of the cross during the five-century Ottoman period is more than just symbolic.
U.S. newspaper “The St. Louis Republic”, in an article from the April 5, 1903, writes about the cross as the savior of Macedonian women:
“Tattooed cross protects women. Christian women from Macedonia, marked with a cross between the eyes.”
According to the same article, a cross was tattooed to “all girls who showed signs of sexual maturity or extraordinary beauty, to prevent their abductions by the Turks.”
Reasons why this practice was carried out are described in the article entitled “Macedonian refugees”, in the illustrated accessory to the American Journal “New York Tribune” from April 5, 1903:”It was typically in one province young Christian girls to be stolen for the harems of Turkish governors and other officials. Once the girls grew into women, a small cross was tattooed between their eyes. The cross saved these girls from the harems. Many women had their girls taken in front of their eyes by the soldiers, and if men resisted they were shot on the spot.”So, ironically, the beauty of Macedonian girl, instead of advantage and reason for pride of her parents, as in the normal world, turned into a huge flaw.
Cases of female abductions by Turkish soldiers are also mentioned in the French newspaper “La Vie Populaire”, in the article of February 24, 1903, titled “The crimes in Macedonia”:
“No women are protected from violence and in a number of villages have been reported cases of abductions.”
In the illustrated accessory to the “New York Tribune” newspaper from April 26, 1903, this practice of tattooing young Macedonians in order to save themselves from abductions, is mentioned again:
“Rural women with indelible cross between the eyes. When they were little they showed signs of beauty and their parents mark them (with cross) to prevent Turks to grab them for the harems.“
The same journal writes a brief, but clear enough sentence on how the cross saved Macedonian women from abduction:
“The Turks are disgusted by the cross.”
But except that Macedonian women were seeking protection and relief from the cross, they also protected the Christianity by themselves and refused to become Muslims. Perhaps the best known example is the history of the Holy Great Martyr Zlata Meglenska, that despite the cruelest torture and threat of death refused to abandon Christianity and become a Muslim.
Abduction of young Macedonian women and their resistance against becoming Muslims, was transformed into national songs by the Macedonian people.