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.

{ 2 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

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

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?

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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.

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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.

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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

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Jennifer October 11, 2013 at 8:54 am

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

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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,

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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.

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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

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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.

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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. :)

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Chiro March 29, 2010 at 7:53 am

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

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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

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Patrick November 28, 2009 at 12:16 am

any connection between this and the Rx symbol for medicine?

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Vita October 1, 2009 at 9:21 pm

Very, VERY helpful. Thanks.

Reply

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