Chi-Rho (labarum, Constantine’s cross, Christogram, Monogram of Christ)

The Chi-Rho emblem can be viewed as the first Christian Cross.

As a pre-Christian symbol, the Chi-rho signified good fortune. The Chi ro became an important Christian symbol when adopted by the Roman Emperor Constantine, representing the first two letters in the name of Christ- the Chi, or ‘ch,’ and Rho, or ‘r.’ According to Church Father Eusebius, on the eve of the Battle of the Milvan Bridge, the Emperor saw the emblem in a dream, with the inscription, “By this sign, you shall conquer.” According to the story, the battle was won. In return for the victory, Constantine legalized the religion and erected Christian churches.

There is some speculation that the ‘sign’ witnessed by Constantine was an occurrence of the sun dogs phenomena.

Unfortunately, this story is very unlikely, as Constantine’s conversion occured on his deathbed, if at all. In any case, the symbol was the standard of the Emperor’s army, prominently displayed on the Emperor’s labarum, or battle standard.

Before it became the monogram of Christ, the chi rho was the monogram of Chronos (whose name also begins with a Chi-rho), the god of time, and an emblem of several solar deities.

The Chi-ro is also the origin of the tradition of abbreviating “Christ” in “christian” or “Christmas” to “X.”  The small letters in the image are the alpha and omega.

In Hebrew, Chi-Rho equates to Tav-Resh. The chi rho was used in hermetic alchemical texts to denote time.

{ 3 trackbacks }

Religious Symbol Dictionary | symboldictionary.net
November 30, 2009 at 1:02 pm
Ichthys Wheel (Wheel Cross) | symboldictionary.net
February 9, 2010 at 1:55 pm
Labarum symbol | Rentoblog
June 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm

{ 35 comments }

Anonymous August 30, 2017 at 10:14 pm

For this symbol, about a half a uear ago, I take that symbol in my heart. And I have a dream that only me which can know when Yesus back again in the end of the day.

Bob June 18, 2017 at 12:20 pm

This is a proud symbol of Christianity and should proudly displayed as you wish, even as a tottoo. An individual should never be apprehensive of their faith (Christianity).

The evil of the world and non-believers want your apprension so they can weaken our faith and religion. That is exactly the intentions of the devil himself, non-believers and Islam itself.

Judio/Christian faith was and is the strength that held together and motivated people to overcome and concur evil in its many faces.

EC February 18, 2018 at 8:34 pm

Christians shouldn’t tattoo, that has all sorts of pagan roots.

Anonymous May 15, 2018 at 3:11 pm

Hi Bob, my name is Renee. I have been prayerfully considering going to a Protestant Christian Church that has the chi rho as their symbol. I was initially completely against considering going to this church because of the Chi rho symbol which is seen exclusively at the Roman Catholic (false)Church. The pastor has explained that the persecuted early Christians would inscribe this symbol on rocks and things. Realizing that the early church started after Jesus’s death around 33 AD and Constantine’s reported his vision of the Chi Rho occurring in 300 AD, I am suspicious of the origin and meaning behind the Chi Rho since it was made Popular by Constantine through the hybrid Pagan/Christian Roman Catholic Church. What are your thoughts on this?
Thank you, Renee

Eric July 26, 2018 at 4:34 pm

Renee,

I think you are spot on. The Bible makes no mention of this symbol. It does say the you shall call no man Father, it says plenty against idol worship, star worship, the queen of heaven, lots on false prophets, points out that the only mediator between us and God is Jesus Christ, and that he who hath the Son hath the Father, he who hath not the Son hath not the Father also. All folks have to do is read the Bible, it’s there. People don’t want to read it though. Like sheep led to a slaughter they follow behind the sheep in front of them and never stop to think for themselves. I’ve done it but I eventually decided to start looking into why I believe what I believe. After some time and a lot of research, I landed on the King James Bible and a relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit that I ran from for far too long.

Josh June 3, 2015 at 4:24 pm

Hey any Christian advice would be appreciated. I have read up on the history of this symbol and I’m thinking about getting it tattooed can anyone tell me that this is symbol is in fact a good symbol for christ?

Anonymous June 28, 2015 at 3:10 am

Hi, I too am getting this tattooed. It indeed is the symbol used to represent Christ. I went to a Lutheran school and did a 20 page paper on the meaning and orgin. I say go for it.

Nolan November 24, 2016 at 12:17 am

Hey any chance you could send me that paper. I was wondering the same thing

Anonymous July 15, 2015 at 12:18 am

Tattooing and piercing forbidden in scriptures. The Chi Rho is a astronomical configuration aka the Sacred Cross. On the cryptic fiat $1 it’s called the Star of David, Seal of Solamon, Star of Bethlehym, the Lost Symbol 666 hexagram of Amos 5:8, 26,27 Iyob 37:31-33, Plieades Orion Moloch Aucturus Mazzoroth Chiun/Saturn.
Isa 19:19,20 almanac Khufu altar Her Em Akhet-sphinx. The christ you speak of is Leo the Lion of Yahudah ImmanuAl Yahusha whom the virgin Myram gave birth to in Virgo. Napoleon’s soldiers used 32 canon shots to deface the black MaDonna as she birthed the black Messiah into the world.
That’s the bulk of Constantine’s vision and why in Dan 2:21, 7:25 he changed laws, times and seasons. The besorah of the Torah is in the stars. Day unto day utters speech. Night unto night utters mysteries.
YouGoogleTube: Pillar of Enoch. Mystery of Thoth and the key of Enoch. The biblical sabbath.com. Fossilized customs. Shalom

Anonymous August 12, 2015 at 12:11 am

you know the bible forbids tattoos specifically?

Adam November 14, 2015 at 2:10 am

No. Definately do not. Yes, it’s a “Christian” symbol, but it only is one b/c Cosntantine made it one, and even as per the article, his conversion to Christianity is dubious at best. The article also mentions, as do many other sources, that this symbol was adopted from other solar deities.

All said, it’s a pagan symbol that predates Jesus by a long, long time. Most pagan symbols go back to the days of Nimrod (who is the sun god of all pagan relgions that goes by different names b/c of the Babel dispersion).

I would even say, refrain from putting any symbol on your body that you may think pertains to Jesus or Christianity.

The 2nd commandment is “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing loving kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

You may say that it’s ok b/c you’re not worshiping it, but one of the definitions of worship is, “show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites”. As this is a pagan symbol in origin, you are showing reverence (worshiping) the deity associated with it, which is the sun god, Nimrod. God does not like His people mixing the holy with the profane. If you haven’t gotten that tattoo yet, you should refrain from doing so.

Anonymous November 24, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Or you could stop being a hypocrite- doesn’t the bible say something about not getting a tattoo? You should know that.

Rob Davis September 16, 2016 at 1:47 am

I just got this tattooed on my forearm. I’m not really worried about what others believe because to me, this means Christ and that’s what I tell people. I also included the Alpha and Omega because Jesus said himself that he is the beginning and the end.

Keegan December 8, 2014 at 12:57 pm

I have a question. I recently moved into a house with some strange energy and on the front door is a Celtic cross along with this symbol on top and it says “Peace to all who enter here” My friends told me it was a Masonic symbol and there must be something about the house or it’s previous history. I am just starting to dig into ancient symbols so I am somewhat uninformed in these matters. I would just like to know what the symbols together may represent. The previous owners of the house were very religious and belonged to at least one organization called the Rebekahs.
any information would be appreciated.

Michael December 6, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Re Constantine seeing a symbol of Greek letters with a Latin text, that would be common to his experience at the time, when men who were considered literate could speak Greek and Latin well. Those who could not spoke other tongues, which to the “literate” sounded like endless babble, ” bar bar bar bar bar”, hence the term which was applied to them, “Barbarians”. It is not inconsistent for anyone who knew Constantine to communicate in both languages to him.
Re: Eusebius being the only person making the claim of Constantine’s baptism, and therefore the claim being dubious, I think one should tread carefully here. Eusebius is often called “the historian of the church” (Nelson’s Dictionary of Christianity, George Kurian editor ISBN 1-4185-0335-5 pg 253 par 2) – “Generally known as Eusebius of Caesarea in Palestine. The father of church history and the bishop of Caesarea from 315 (A.D.)” and there is in fact a highly readable text available entitled Eusebius: The Church History (ISBN 0-8254-3328-2) by Paul L. Maier. Eusebius had this title because of the quality and quantity of his historical records on the early Christian church.
By the way, Christians did not claim the name “Christians” for themselves, but it was the name which others first gave to them at Antioch, between 40 and 44 A.D. (Kurian, Nelson’s Dictionary of Christianity,) and Acts 11:26 (Holy Bible). Again according to Kurian, the name “Christian” was “Originally a pejorative epithet used by pagans, (and) it replaced the earlier terms by which Christians were known.” Both references to Kurian are from pg 155 in the 2005 edition published by Thomas Nelson, Inc).

W Blake April 20, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Jennifer,

Will you provide some supporting material for your statement that Constantine was likely converted (if at all) on his deathbed? Thank you for the blog post.

Jennifer April 22, 2014 at 4:29 pm

If I recall correctly (and it has been a few years), the sole account of his deathbed baptism comes from Eusebius. So while it is generally accepted, there is no guarantee the account is genuine.

christopher December 10, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Has anyone noticed that the labarum also resembles the alchemical sign for summer turned on its side. Since Constantine was an affiliate of sol invictus, the unconquered sun, it is telling that summer is the time when the sun is strongest. Also, why would the statement “in hock signor vinces”, a Latin phrase appear over a sign with Greek letters. Especially given Constantine was born in moesia?

Simon October 30, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Regarding the comment “Unfortunately, this story is very unlikely, as Constantine’s conversion occurred on his deathbed, if at all.” is so very wrong.

Constantine got Baptised on his deathbed as he had to do what was considered very non-Christian things like condemning people to death etc that baptised Christians were not allowed to do. So, like many at the time, professed Christianity but only sort to get baptised on their deathbed so they would be forgiven all their sins, including the sinful acts they preformed they did which they knew would not fly as baptised Christians. This is a matter of wide spread historic record- even Wikipedia says that:

“In postponing his baptism, he followed one custom at the time which postponed baptism until after infancy.[251] It has been thought that Constantine put off baptism as long as he did so as to be absolved from as much of his sin as possible.”

Please remove this very wrong line from the article.

Jennifer November 13, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Simon, rather than get into a debate on the veracity of the tales of Eusebius, I will say this: If you dislike the material as I have presented it, you are welcome to write your own with your preferred “facts.” This is the beauty of the internet.

Demanding that others alter their work to suit your beliefs and preferences is rude, and a little weird.

Kenneth October 10, 2013 at 10:23 am

Hi all,

Its something like this one but it not mirrored and like the chi rho sign!

Greetings

Jennifer October 11, 2013 at 8:54 am

Any chance you have an image? I’m having trouble picturing this?

Kenneth October 14, 2013 at 3:34 am

Hi,

It seams he link was not added.

http://www.seiyaku.com/images/puzzle/mystery30/original2-large.jpg

This i have found. Also the sign is found in the book from the writer agrippa. There are some translations of this book on the net but these translations are not the same as what i’m translating from it.

So my question still remains who was the first to use it before the christians corrupted it! (constantine family?)

Greetings,

Jennifer October 14, 2013 at 7:26 am

Hi Kenneth- a variation of this symbol was used in Rome before Constantine, in the form of a wheel. It is generally unique to Christianity in terms of significance, though. Much more so than the cross.

Kenneth October 10, 2013 at 9:17 am

Hi all,

I have a question about this sign. I’m translating an ancient book and there i found the chi rho but with extention of a scale (i think) below the ‘P’ and cross and the text arround it say ‘IN HOC VINCE’ which mean ‘Win With This’. Also the book states that this is the true sign of the Constatine family by example!

Now my question is this. I have looked for this sign and i only find the chi rho sign and non more. Also the Rx combination is part of the language i for now can’t translate (yet) which is used in the book.

I do not know how to use attach the image to this screen but i’m willing to email it if possible.

Many thanks in advance!

Greetings

Sarah April 26, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Hi, I have some Chapel vases, possibly trench art
made from mortar cases, pre 1961 (the date of the
newspaper they were wrapped in when found in our
Chapel cellar), with a symbol embossed upon them. It
is an upright cross “+” with a “P” on the top bar,
surrounded by a laurel wreath.
Have you any idea what this might mean?
Thanks so much for any help you can give.
Sarah.

Jennifer May 2, 2013 at 7:46 pm

It would definitely be a variation of the Chi-rho described here, a Christogram, probably made by a Catholic. :)

His Majesty King James II March 31, 2013 at 5:21 am

The Labarum is the symbol for the Flower of Life, which encodes the Math of God. It contains values that depict the fundamental geometry of time and space, iner alia.

Brady December 15, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Constantine did in fact convert to Christianity before the end of his life. While he waited until just for death for baptism, this was actually quite common among early Christians, as after baptism one was considered completely absolved of one’s sins. It was Constantine who brought about the first Council of Nicea to set out in orderly fashion the teachings of the faith.

David April 21, 2010 at 5:07 am

Is there actually any evidence for this supposed conneciton with Chronos? Where can I find the relevant inscription?

Jennifer April 25, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Yes. The monogram is used this way in margin notes of texts. The only reference I have offhand (my books are packed pending a move!) is in http://www.amazon.com/Earliest-Christian-Artifacts-Manuscripts-Origins/dp/0802828957, page 137. This is not controversial; in fact, it is generally understood that the chi-rho was meant to be taken as a three-dimensional representation of the bands of the ecliptic, even (or especially) to the Christians.

Chiro March 29, 2010 at 7:53 am

Hii …. Nice to know that one symbol symbolizes me :)

admin November 28, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Actually, yes- but not directly (not by the time it was in use as a Christian emblem, in any case.)

See here:

http://symboldictionary.net/?p=519

Patrick November 28, 2009 at 12:16 am

any connection between this and the Rx symbol for medicine?

Vita October 1, 2009 at 9:21 pm

Very, VERY helpful. Thanks.

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