The Info List - Christogram

A Christogram
( Latin
Monogramma Christi[1]) is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ, traditionally used as a religious symbol within the 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 IX, XPO, XPS, XPI, XPO, XPM). In Eastern Christian tradition, the monogram ΙϹΧϹ (with Overline indicating scribal abbreviation) is used for Ἰησοῦς Χριστός in both Greek and Cyrillic tradition. A Middle Latin
term for abbreviations of the name of Christ
is chrisimus.[2] Similarly, Middle Latin
crismon, chrismon refers to the Chi Rho
Chi Rho
monogram specifically.[3]


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

Chi (Χ)[edit] 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
Christian symbolism
associated with the chiasmus interpreted in terms of "the mystery of the pre-existent Christ".[4] 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.[5] 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.[6] and an early testimony may be the phrase in Didache, "sign of extension in heaven" (sēmeion epektaseōs en ouranōi).[4] 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.[7] 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"). Chi Rho
Chi Rho
(ΧΡ)[edit] Main article: Chi Rho

A Chi Rho
Chi Rho
combined with Alpha and Omega, in 1669 labelled Chrismon Sancti Ambrosii, Milan Cathedral.[8]

The Alpha and Omega
Alpha and Omega
symbols may at times accompany the Chi-Rho monogram.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] St Cuthbert's coffin
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. IHS[edit] 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.[12][13][14] 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 [or: of Jerusalem]" in Latin)[15] 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.[16] In the 15th century, Saint Bernardino of Siena
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.[15] English-language interpretations of "IHS" have included "In His Service".[17]

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.

ICXC[edit] 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),[18] 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

See also[edit]

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
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
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
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. ^ "IHS". Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
(3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.) ^ Bush, Brian Paige; (NA), Bush (1 March 2004). His Blueprint In The Bible: A Study Of The Number Three In Scripture. Dorrance Publishing Co. p. 9. ISBN 9780805963823.  ^ Symbols of the Christian faith by Alva William Steffler 2002 ISBN 0-8028-4676-9 page 67

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Monograms of the name of Jesus Christ.

St. Bernardine of Siena Christogram
Official Website

v t e

Christian cross
Christian cross

In modern use

Anchored/St. Clement's Cross Anuradhapura cross Cross of the Archangels Archiepiscopal cross Armenian Cross Arrow/Barby Cross Bolnisi cross Cross bottony Branch cross Byzantine cross Calvary cross Canterbury cross Catherine wheel Caucasian Albanian Cross Celtic cross Cercelée Cross of St. Chad Coptic cross Cross crosslet Cross crosslet fitchy Cross and Crown Crucifix Cruciform halo Double cross Cross of the Evangelists Cross fitchy Cross fleury Cross fleury
Cross fleury
fitchy St. Florian Cross Forked cross Cross fourchy Fylfot St. George's Cross Globus cruciger Gnostic cross Grapevine/St. Nino's Cross Greek cross Huguenot cross St. James/Santiago Cross Jerusalem/Crusaders' cross Jerusalem cross
Jerusalem cross
(variant) Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
cross Cross of St. John Latin/Roman cross Macedonian Cross Maltese cross Marian Cross Maronite Cross Cross moline Nordic Cross Cross of Novgorod Occitan cross Orthodox cross
Orthodox cross
(Bulgarian) Orthodox cross
Orthodox cross
(Greek) Orthodox cross
Orthodox cross
(Slavic) Papal cross Cross patonce St. Patrick's Saltire Cross pattée Cross pattée
Cross pattée
fitchée Patriarchal cross Cross of St. Peter Cross of St. Philip Pommy cross Portate cross/Cross of St. Gilbert Cross potent Ringed cross Cross quadrate Cross of Salem Saltire/St. Andrew's Cross Serbian cross Tau/St. Anthony's Cross St. Thomas Cross Syriac cross


Avellane cross Avis cross Brigid's cross Carolingian cross Consecration crosses Coptic cross Cross and Crown Cuthbert's pectoral cross Early Coptic cross Engrailed cross Cross erminée Gammadion Crux gemmata Saint Julian's cross Lazarus' cross Lorraine cross Cross of Neith Cross of Peñalba Pierced cross Pierced cross quarterly Knights Templar cross Teutonic Order cross Two-barred cross Victory Cross Voided cross

By function

Altar cross Blessing cross Conciliation cross Crosses in heraldry

Nordic Pisan

High cross Market cross Mercat cross Memorial cross Mission cross Monumental cross Pectoral cross Plague cross Processional cross Rood/Triumphal cross Summit cross Wayside cross

Christograms, Chrismons

Chi Rho Christogram IX monogram Labarum Signum manus Staurogram/Monogrammatic cross/ Tau

See also

Ankh Armenian eternity sign Balkenkreuz Irminsul Kolovrat Mjölnir Odinic fylfot Rose Cross Sauwastika Scientology cross Shamrock Shield of the Trinity Sunwheel swastika Sun cross Swastika Triskel