1. Christ.
  2. Jesus.
  3. Jesus Christ.

"Monogram of Christ" is the term Usually applied to a combination of the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ (XP), although it is also given to an abbreviated form of the name Jesus as well as to a synthesis of both.

I. Christ:

The monogram for "Christ" shows two chief forms, the "rho" being either placed


within the "chi" (*?*), or the latter being set upright and the former superimposed on that arm, which thus becomes vertical (*?*). Two additional forma were given by the reversal of the "rho"

1. Different Forms.

(*?*, *?*), and the addition of a horizontal fine at right angles to the "rho" in the first of the main types gave yet another pair of monograms (*?*, *?*). There are also a number of less usual forms, as when the Latin "r" is substituted for the Greek "rho," which is found in Syria (420), Gaul (after the middle of the fifth century), and Italy (chiefly at Ravenna and on a tombstone at Milan).

The form *?* is exclusively Christian, although it closely resembles the Egyptian ankh (*?*), the symbol of life, which is twice altered into the Christian monogram in an inscription of the sixth century from the island of Philæ, where it marks the transformation of a temple into a church. The monogram *?*, on the other hand, is pre-Christian, and appears on Attic tetradrachms, on Ptolemaic coins, and in an inscription to Isis of 138-137 B.C., while in Greek manuscripts of the Christian period it forms an abbreviation of various words.

2. Date of Origin.

It has long been a problem whether the monogram for the name of Christ was introduced by the Emperor Constantine or was in use before his time. The inscriptions with this symbol to which appeal has been made in confirmation of the latter hypothesis are either spurious or extremely doubtful. The oldest Roman epitaphs of certain date which bear the monogram *?* are of 323 and 331, both in the reign of Constantine, while the earliest dated monument from Gaul is in 347. Yet since a monogram was made for the name Jesus in the second century, it would seem that the name Christ underwent the same process, and that Constantine adopted a form which was already current. This is confirmed by the fact that *?* as an abbreviation for "Christ" is found in certain inscriptions of the third century. The monogram occurs with great frequency in the inscriptions on Christian graves, sometimes alone and sometimes with the "alpha" and "omega" (see ALPHA AND OMEGA), with the fish, between two doves, between palm-branches, in a garland, in a circle, and the like. It is found throughout the Greek and Roman world, as well as among the Copts and in Germany. Nor is it confined to inscriptions, but occurs on funeral lamps, glass vessels, sarcophagi, wall-paintings, ornaments, and even on clothing and other articles of daily life. The two main forms of the monogram long existed side by side, and occasionally occurred on the same monument, but in the fifth century *?* gradually yielded to *?* , and both finally gave place to the simple cross.

The Emperor Constantine placed the monogram, apparently in the form *?*, on his standard and helmet, as well as on the shield of his soldiers, and its use was very frequent on the coins of his successors (except Julian) until Justinian I. (d. 565), when it was replaced by the cross. In the second half of the fourth century the monogram was placed on public buildings, the earliest dated instance being from Sion (Switzerland) in 377. It was likewise employed in the churches, the oldest example being a mosaic in the Church of St. Constantia at Rome, where it appears in a scroll in the hand of Christ. In the remarkable church of the Savior at Spoleto, which dates probably from the second half of the fourth century, the monogram *?* occurs on the great arch above the altar, while the *?* is found on the tympanum of two side-windows of the facade. Other structures showing the monogram are the temple on the banks of the Clitumnus (apparently transformed into a church in the fifth century), Sta. Maria Maggiore in Rome (fifth century), and Sta. Francesca Romana in the same city (twelfth or thirteenth century).

3. Symbolism.

In epitaphs the monogram is either used as a simple abbreviation of the name Christ, or, if isolated grammatically, denotes confession of Christ. In early art it stands as a symbol of Christ, as when he is typified on a sarcophagus in the Vatican grottos by a lamb which stands on a mount (Rev. xiv. 1) and bears the *?* on its head. It is likewise associated with the human figure of Christ, a single monogram being placed either above his head or in a halo, while in other cases one is represented on each side of his head. When set between two persons on glass vessels, the monogram symbolizes the presence of Christ in their midst. Particularly interesting is the symbolism frequently found on sarcophagi which represents the monogram *?* in a garland sustained by a flying eagle above the cross, at the feet of which appear the guardians of the grave. Here the lower portion typifies the crucifixion and the repose of the tomb, while the upper part is an emblem of the resurrection and ascension. The monogram appears also as a purely symbolic figure, as when a tomb stone of 355 represents a man holding the *?* in his outstretched right hand.

II. Jesus:

The oldest form of the monogram for the name Jesus is the Greek *?*, which is implied in the Epistle of Barnabas ix., where in the 318 men circumcised by Abraham (a combination of Gen. xvii. 23 with xiv. 14) is traced an allusion both to Jesus (IH) and to the cross (T), the Greek mode of writing 318 being *?*, an interpretation which passed to the Latin Church. The employment of this monogram in ancient Christian monuments, however, is rare, although it is found in the catacomb of Priscilla and in the atrium of the so-called Capella Græca. In the Occident the form IHS has been extremely wide-spread since the end of the Middle Ages, this being due especially to the sermons of Bernardin of Sienna, who used to display at the close of the addresses which he delivered in various cities a tablet containing these letters written in gold and surrounded by the rays of the sun. This monogram later became the special emblem of the Jesuits.

III. Jesus Christ:

The simplest form for the combination of both the divine names in Greek is *?*, consisting of the initials I X. This monogram, though ancient, is rare, but is found on a tombstone from Rome in 268 or 279, and on others from Gaul in 491 and 597. It likewise occurs between the "alpha" and "omega" (bronze


lamp in the museum of Estense) and in a circle (above a throne in the center of a sarcophagus at Tusculum). The form is occasionally modified to ?, especially in graffiti of the catacomb of St. Calixtus, while a Gallic gravestone of 498 shows the three forms ?, ? and, ?. The monogram occurs also in the mosaics of several churches of Ravenna.

The usual abbreviation of the two names in the oldest manuscripts of the New Testament is IC XC, which is also found in the Neapolitan catacombs, while in the Greek Church it was frequently placed on the base of the paten. It appeared on the coins of the Byzantine emperors from John Zimiskes (969-975) to the fall of the dynasty, and was also employed in Greek paintings and sculptures, as well as on the bronze doors of 1070, formerly in the church of St. Paul at Rome. Particularly noteworthy is the transfer of this monogram to the medieval Latin Church. In the ancient church of St. Peter at Rome were mosaics of the time of Innocent III., which represented Christ enthroned between Peter and Paul with the inscription IC XC, while similar mosaics are still preserved from the early part of the fourteenth century in the church of Sta. Maria Maggiore at Rome. Italian easel-pieces of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries likewise show this form of the monogram. The Latin form of the monogram for Jesus Christ was IHS XRS, which occur in the earliest Latin manuscripts of the Bible, the first two letters of each part being expressly declared to be Greek and the last Latin. In the Occident this form was used from the earliest times in inscriptions, sculptures, and paintings, especially in miniatures of the Carolingian period and in medieval panel-paintings, while it was placed on Byzantine coins from Basilius Macedo (867-886) to Romanus Diogenes (1068-71).


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Spicilegium Solesmense, ed. J. B. Pitra, iv. 505 sqq., Paris, 1858; E, Is Blant, Inscriptions chrétiennes de la Gaule, vol. i., passim, ib. 1856; G. B. de Rossi, Inscriptiones christianæ urbis Romæ, vol. i. passim, Rome, 1861; R. Garrucci, Storia della arte cristiana, i. 163 sqq., Prato, 1881; F. X. Kraus, Real-Encyklopädie der christlichen Alterthümer, ii. 125 sqq., 412 sqq., Freiburg, 1886; V. Schultze, Archäologie der altchristlichen Kunst, pp. 235 sqq., Munich, 1895; DCA, ii. 1310-14; C. M. Kauffmann, Handbuch der christlichen Archäologie, pp. 295 sqq., Paderborn, 1905; H. Leclercq, Manual d'archéologie chrétienne, ii., 383 sqq., Paris, 1907; F. Cabrol, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne, i.178 sqq., Paris, 1903.


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