A Christogram (Latin Monogramma Christi) 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 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 ΙΗΣΟΥΣ "JESUS" in uppercase.
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, 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.Similarly, Middle Latin crismon , chrismon refers to the Chi Rho monogram specifically.
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 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.
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.— Plato. Timaeus, 8.36b and 8.36c
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.
Justin Martyr in the 2nd century makes explicit reference to Plato's image in Timaeus in terms of a prefiguration of the Holy Cross.An early statement may be the phrase in Didache , "sign of extension in heaven" (sēmeion epektaseōs en ouranōi).
An alternative explanation of the intersecting celestial symbol has been advanced by George Latura, claiming that Plato's "visible god" in Timaeus is the intersection of the Milky Way and the Zodiacal Light, a rare apparition important to pagan beliefs. He said that Christian bishops reframed this 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").
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 "ΙΗΣΟΥΣ ΗΜΕΤΕΡΟΣ ΣΩΤΗΡ" (Iēsous Hēmeteros Sōtēr, "Jesus our Saviour") or in Latin "Jesus Hominum (or Hierosolymae) Salvator", ("Jesus, Saviour of men [or: of Jerusalem]" in Latin)or connected with In Hoc Signo. English-language interpretations of "IHS" have included "In His Service". Such interpretations are known as backformed acronyms.
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 in 1541.
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" (Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς νικᾷ), meaning "Jesus Christ Conquers." "ΙϹΧϹ" may also be seen inscribed on the Ichthys.
After Francis Xavier landed in Kagoshima, Japan, in 1549, his missionary work grew and became widely distributed throughout Japan under Daimyō's patronage. However, during the Edo period (1603-1868), Christians were persecuted and forced to hide. Because they were forbidden to openly worship the images of Christ or Mary, it is believed that they transferred their worship to other carved images and marked them with secret symbols understood only by the initiates. Certain Japanese lanterns, notably the 'Kirishitan dōrō' (キリシタン灯籠, Christian lanterns), did bear the "Lhq" monogram, which, a quarter turned, was engraved on the shaft (sao), which was buried directly into the soil without basal platform (kiso). The "Lhq" monogram corresponds to the distorted letters "IHS".
The concept of the Christ in Christianity originated from the concept of the messiah in Judaism. Christians believe that Jesus is the messiah foretold in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament. Although the conceptions of the messiah in each religion are similar, for the most part they are distinct from one another due to the split of early Christianity and Judaism in the 1st century.
The labarum was a vexillum that displayed the "Chi-Rho" symbol ☧, a christogram formed from the first two Greek letters of the word "Christ" — Chi (χ) and Rho (ρ). It was first used by the Roman emperor Constantine the Great.
Chi is the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet.
The Chi Rho is one of the earliest forms of christogram, formed by superimposing the first two (capital) letters—chi and rho (ΧΡ)—of the Greek word ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ (Christos) in such a way that the vertical stroke of the rho intersects the center of the chi.
Xmas is a common abbreviation of the word Christmas. It is sometimes pronounced, but Xmas, and variants such as Xtemass, originated as handwriting abbreviations for the typical pronunciation. The "X" comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Christós, which became Christ in English. The suffix -mas is from the Latin-derived Old English word for Mass.
Rho is the 17th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 100. It is derived from Phoenician letter res . Its uppercase form uses the same glyph, Ρ, as the distinct Latin letter P; the two letters have different Unicode encodings.
The ichthys or ichthus, from the Greek ikhthū́s is a symbol consisting of two intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point so as to resemble the profile of a fish. The symbol was adopted by early Christians as a secret symbol. It is now known colloquially as the "sign of the fish" or the "Jesus fish".
A monogram or wenzel is a motif made by overlapping or combining two or more letters or other graphemes to form one symbol. Monograms are often made by combining the initials of an individual or a company, used as recognizable symbols or logos. A series of uncombined initials is properly referred to as a cypher and is not a monogram.
Scribal abbreviations or sigla are the abbreviations used by ancient and medieval scribes writing in various languages, including Latin, Greek, Old English and Old Norse. In modern manuscript editing sigla are the symbols used to indicate the source manuscript and to identify the copyists of a work. See Critical apparatus.
Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and a title of Christ and God in the Book of Revelation. This pair of letters is used as a Christian symbol, and is often combined with the Cross, Chi-rho, or other Christian symbols.
In Christian iconography, Christ Pantocrator is a specific depiction of Christ. Pantocrator or Pantokrator, usually translated as "Almighty" or "all-powerful", is derived from one of many names of God in Judaism.
The tau cross is a T-shaped cross, sometimes with all three ends of the cross expanded. It is called a “tau cross” because it is shaped like the Greek letter tau, which in its upper-case form has the same appearance as Latin letter T.
In Christian scribal practice, nomina sacra is the abbreviation of several frequently occurring divine names or titles, especially in Greek manuscripts of Holy Scripture. A nomen sacrum consists of two or more letters from the original word spanned by an overline.
A Chrismon tree is an evergreen tree often placed in the chancel or nave of a church during Advent and Christmastide. The Chrismon tree was first used by North American Lutherans in 1957, although the practice has spread to other Christian denominations, including Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists, and the Reformed. As with the Christmas tree, the evergreen tree itself, for Christians, "symbolizes the eternal life Jesus Christ provides". However, the Chrismon tree differs from the traditional Christmas tree in that it "is decorated only with clear lights and Chrismons made from white and gold material", the latter two being the liturgical colours of the Christmas season.
Christian symbolism is the use of symbols, including archetypes, acts, artwork or events, by Christianity. It invests objects or actions with an inner meaning expressing Christian ideas.
The IX monogram or XI monogram is a type of early Christian monogram looking like the spokes of a wheel, sometimes within a circle.
The staurogram (⳨), also monogrammatic cross or tau-rho, is a ligature composed of a superposition of the Greek letters tau (Τ) and rho (Ρ).
Signum manus refers to the medieval practice, current from the Merovingian period until the 14th century in the Frankish Empire and its successors, of signing a document or charter with a special type of monogram or royal cypher.
The Wintour vestments are a set of Catholic vestments and altar pieces made by the English recusant Catholic and seamstress Helena Wintour. They are currently held in two halves at Douai Abbey and Stonyhurst College.
The Spitzer Cross is an enameled metal crucifix, made c.1190 in Limoges, in France, by an artisan known as the "Master of the Royal Plantagenet Workshop", and now held by the Cleveland Museum of Art. The work is made from copper, engraved and gilded, and inlaid with champlevé Limoges enamel, depicting Christ on the cross in tones of blue, green, yellow, red and white. It may have been made as a processional cross for the Abbey of Grandmont: similar Limoges enamel crosses are held in other public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Monograms of the name of Jesus Christ .|