The Info List - Christogram

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_Monogramma Christi_ ) is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
, traditionally used as a religious symbol within the Christian Church
Christian Church

One of the oldest Christograms is the Chi-Rho . It consists of the superimposed Greek letters chi (Χ) and rho (Ρ), which are the first two letters of Greek χριστός " Christ
". It was displayed on the _labarum _ military standard used by Constantine I
Constantine I
in AD 312. The IX monogram ( ) is a similar form, using the initials of the name Ἰησοῦς (ὁ) Χριστός "Jesus (the) Christ", as is the ΙΗ monogram ( ), using the first two letters of the name Ἰησοῦς "Jesus".

There were a very considerable number of variants of "Christograms" or monograms of Christ
in use during the medieval period, with the boundary between specific monograms and mere scribal abbreviations somewhat fluid.

The name _Jesus_, spelt "ΙΗΣΟΥΣ" in Greek capitals, has the abbreviations _IHS_ (also written _JHS, IHC_, or _ΙΗΣ_), the name _Christus_ , spelt "ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ", has _XP_ (and inflectional variants such as _XPO, XPS, XPI, XPO, XPM_). In Eastern Christian tradition, the monogram ΙϹΧϹ (with titlo indicating scribal abbreviation) is used for in both Greek and Cyrillic tradition.

A Middle Latin
term for abbreviations of the name of Christ
is _chrisimus_. Similarly, Middle Latin
_crismon_, _chrismon_ refers to the Chi Rho monogram specifically.


* 1 Chi (Χ) * 2 Chi Rho (ΧΡ) * 3 IHS * 4 ICXC * 5 See also * 6 References * 7 External links


Further information: Chi (letter)

In antiquity, the cross , i.e. the instrument of Christ\'s crucifixion (_crux _, _stauros _) was taken to be T -shaped, while the X -shape ("chiasmus ") had different connotations. There has been a lot of scholarly speculation on the development of the Christian cross , the letter Chi used to abbreviate the name of Christ
, and the various pre- Christian symbolism associated with the chiasmus interpreted in terms of "the mystery of the pre-existent Christ

In Plato
's _Timaeus _, it is explained that the two bands which form the "world soul" (_anima mundi _) cross each other like the letter _chi_, possibly referring to the ecliptic crossing the celestial equator . Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
in the 2nd century makes explicit reference to Plato's image in _Timaeus_ in terms of a prefiguration of the Holy Cross. and an early testimony may be the phrase in _ Didache _, "sign of extension in heaven" (_sēmeion epektaseōs en ouranōi_).

An alternate explanation of the intersecting celestial symbol has been advanced by George Latura, claiming that Plato's visible god in _Timaeus_ is in fact the intersection of the Milky Way and the Zodiacal Light, a rare apparition important to pagan beliefs that Christian bishops reinvented as a Christian symbol.

The most commonly encountered Christogram
in English-speaking countries in modern times is the Χ (or more accurately, the Greek letter chi), representing the first letter of the word _Christ_, in such abbreviations as _ Xmas
_ (for "Christmas") and _Xian _ or _Xtian_ (for "Christian").


Main article: Chi Rho _ A Chi Rho combined with Alpha and Omega , in 1669 labelled Chrismon Sancti Ambrosii_, Milan Cathedral .

The Alpha and Omega symbols may at times accompany the Chi-Rho monogram. _Chrismon_ (_chrismum_; also _chrismos, chrismus_) since the 17th century has been used as a New Latin
term for the Chi Rho monogram.

Because the _chrismon_ was used as a kind of "invocation" at the beginning of documents of the Merovingian period , the term also came to be used of the "cross-signatures " in early medieval charters. _Chrismon_ in this context may refer to the Merovingian period abbreviation _I. C. N._ for _in Christi nomine_, later (in the Carolingian period ) also _I. C._ for _in Christo_, and still later (in the high medieval period) just _C._ for _Christus_.

St Cuthbert\'s coffin (late 7th century) has an exceptional realisation of the Christogram
written in Anglo-Saxon runes , as ᛁᚻᛋ ᛉᛈᛋ, as it were "IHS XPS", with the _chi_ rendered as the _eolh _ rune (the old _z_ or _algiz_ rune) and the _rho_ rendered as the p-rune .


In the Latin
-speaking Christianity of medieval Western Europe (and so among Catholics and many Protestants today), the most common Christogram
became "IHS" or "IHC", denoting the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus, ΙΗΣΟΥΣ, _iota -eta -sigma _, or ΙΗΣ.

The Greek letter _iota_ is represented by I, and the _eta_ by H, while the Greek letter _sigma_ is either in its lunate form, represented by C, or its final form, represented by S. Because the Latin-alphabet letters _I_ and _J_ were not systematically distinguished until the 17th century, "JHS" and "JHC" are equivalent to "IHS" and "IHC".

"IHS" is sometimes interpreted as meaning "Jesus Hominum (or Hierosolymae) Salvator", ("Jesus, Saviour of men " in Latin) or connected with _In Hoc Signo_ . Such interpretations are known as backronyms . Used in Latin
since the seventh century, the first use of _IHS_ in an English document dates from the fourteenth century, in The vision of William concerning Piers Plowman . In the 15th century, Saint Bernardino of Siena popularized the use of the three letters on the background of a blazing sun to displace both popular pagan symbols and seals of political factions like the Guelphs and Ghibellines in public spaces (see Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus ). The IHS monogram with the H surmounted by a cross above three nails and surrounded by a Sun is the emblem of the Jesuits
, according to tradition introduced by Ignatius of Loyola
Ignatius of Loyola
in 1541. English-language interpretations of "IHS" have included "In His Service".


IHS or JHS Christogram
of western Christianity. *

Medieval-style IHC monogram. *

Intertwined IHS monogram, Saint-Martin's Church, L\'Isle-Adam, Val-d\'Oise . *

The Jesuit emblem from a 1586 print.


In Eastern Christianity , the most widely used Christogram
is a four-letter abbreviation, ΙϹ ΧϹ — a traditional abbreviation of the Greek words for "Jesus Christ" (i.e., the first and last letters of each of the words "ΙΗϹΟΥϹ ΧΡΙϹΤΟϹ", with the lunate sigma "Ϲ" common in medieval Greek), and written with titlo (diacritic) denoting scribal abbreviation (І҃С Х҃С).

On icons, this Christogram
may be split: "ΙϹ" on the left of the image and "ΧϹ" on the right. It is sometimes rendered as "ΙϹ ΧϹ ΝΙΚΑ", meaning " Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
Conquers." "ΙϹΧϹ" may also be seen inscribed on the Ichthys . In the traditional icon of Christ Pantokrator , Christ's right hand is shown in a pose where his fingers bend and cross to form the letters ΙϹ, Χ, and Ϲ.


Depiction of the "ΙϹ ΧϹ ΝΙΚΑ" arrangement in medieval Greek tradition. *

"ΙϹ ΧϹ ΝΙΚΑ" cross on the obverse of a 12th-century Sicilian coin (Roger II ) *

Pantocrator on the Holy Crown of Hungary
Holy Crown of Hungary
(12th century) *

Pantocrator, Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre


* Christian symbolism * Holy Name of Jesus * Ichthys * INRI * Little Sachet * Names and titles of Jesus * Nomina sacra


* ^ The portmanteau of _Christo-_ and _-gramma_ is modern, first introduced in German as _Christogramm_ in the mid-18th century. Adoption into English as _Christogram_ dates to c. 1900. * ^ Chrisimus (par les Bénédictins de St. Maur, 1733–1736), in: du Cange, et al., _Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis_, ed. augm., Niort : L. Favre, 1883‑1887, t. 2, col. 317b. "CHRISIMUS, Nomen Christi abbreviatum in antiquis instrumentis secundum diversos casus sic XPS. XPI. XPO. XPM. ubi media littera P. Græcum. Vox Chrisimus legitur in Annal. Benedict. tom. 5. pag. 7." * ^ Crismon (par les Bénédictins de St. Maur, 1733–1736), in: du Cange, et al., _Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis_, ed. augm., Niort : L. Favre, 1883‑1887, t. 2, col. 621b. "CRISMON, Nota quæ in libro ex voluntate uniuscujusque ad aliquid notandum ponitur. Papias in MS. Bituric. Crismon vel Chrismon proprie est Monogramma Christi sic expressum ☧" 1 chrismon (par les Bénédictins de St. Maur, 1733–1736), in: du Cange, et al., _Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis_, ed. augm., Niort : L. Favre, 1883‑1887, t. 2, col. 318c, citing Heumann. de re Diplom. inde a Carol. M. § 12; Murator. Antiquit. Ital. tom. 3. col. 75. * ^ _A_ _B_ Grigg, Robert (December 1977). ""Symphōnian Aeidō tēs Basileias": An Image of Imperial Harmony on the Base of the Column of Arcadius". _The Art Bulletin_. 59 (4): 477; 469–482. doi :10.2307/3049702 . . * ^ Plato. _Timaeus_, 8.36b and 8.36c: "And thus the whole mixture out of which he cut these portions was all exhausted by him. This entire compound divided lengthways into two parts, which he joined to one another at the centre like the letter X, and bent them into a circular form, connecting them with themselves and each other at the point opposite to their original meeting-point; and, comprehending them in a uniform revolution upon the same axis, he made the one the outer and the other the inner circle." "The two great circles of the heavens, the equator and the ecliptic, which, by intersecting each other form a sort of recumbent chi and about which the whole dome of the starry heavens swings in a wondrous rhythm, became for the Christian eye a heavenly cross." Rahner & Battershaw 1971 , "Mystery of the Cross", pp. 49–50. See also Grigg (1977:477) * ^ Justin. _Apologia_, 1.60. * ^ Latura 2012 , pp. 880–886. * ^ The symbol was moved to storage for the refurbishments under Pellegrino Tibaldi and re-instated in the choir on 6 September 1669. (storiadimilano.it). Use of the name _Chrismon_ is apparently based on the term _crismon_ as used by Landulf of Milan (I.12). Landulf's mention of a _crismon_ of Saint Ambrose clearly refers to chrism , i.e. holy oil, not a symbol. I. A. Ferrai, "I Fonti di Landolfo Seniore", _Bullettino dell'Istituto storico italiano_ 14 (1895), p. 29. * ^ _Allegory of the Church_ by Calvin Kendall 1998 ISBN 1-4426-1309-2 page 137 * ^ while in English literature of the 19th to mid 20th century, _chrismon_ refers to the Chi Rho monogram exclusively, the German-language usage has also come to be adopted in some cases in the specific context of medieval sigla, especially in works translated from German into English, e.g. Hans Belting, Edmund Jephcott (trans.), _Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image Before the Era of Art_ (1997), pp. 107-109. For German usage, see Ersch _et al_., Volume 1, Issue 29 of _Allgemeine Encyklopädie der Wissenschaften und Künste_, 1837, p. 303 (in German). Johann Christoph Gatterer, _Elementa artis diplomaticae universalis_ (1765), p. 145 ( _Abriß der Diplomatik_ 1798, p. 64). * ^ Johann Christoph Gatterer, _Abriß der Diplomatik_ (1798), p. 64f. Carl Ernst Bohn, _Allgemeine deutsche Bibliothek_ vol. 111 (1792), p. 521. * ^ _Christian sacrament and devotion_ by Servus Gieben 1997 ISBN 90-04-06247-5 page 18 * ^ _The Continuum encyclopedia of symbols_ by Udo Becker 2000 ISBN 0-8264-1221-1 page 54 * ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Holy Name of Jesus". _newadvent.org_. * ^ _A_ _B_ Maere, René. "IHS." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. * ^