X is for Χριστός
Chi Rho (☧) are the first two letters in the Greek spelling of the word Christ ( Greek : “Χριστός” ), and so have come to be used for a number of Christian-related usages.
The Chi Rho is one of the earliest cruciform symbols used by Christians. It is formed by superimposing the first two letters of the word “Christ” in Greek, chi = ch and rho = r. Although not technically a cross, the Chi Rho invokes the crucifixion of Jesus as well as symbolizing his status as the Christ. There is early evidence of the Chi Rho symbol on Christian Rings of the third century (200’s). There is also importantly Constantine’s use of it on the labarum, the imperial standard, in the early 4th century. Lactantius, a 4th century Christian apologist, reports that on the eve of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312, Constantine had a vision of God in which he was commanded to mark his men’s shields with the Chi Rho symbol. After Constantine’s success at the Milvian bridge, the Chi Rho became the official imperial insignia. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence demonstrating that the Chi Rho was emblazoned on the helmet and shield of Constantine as well as those of all of his soldiers. Coins and medallions minted during Constantine’s reign also bore the Chi Rho. By the year 350, the Chi Rho began to be used on Christian sarcophagi and frescoes.
I took these photos of these murals inside the historic Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California. The Cathedral was amazing and I have a full post about it with more photos of the inside and outside here and here. If you ever get the chance to visit San Francisco make sure and put this Cathedral on your must see list!
When walking in the Pacific Heights neighborhood in San Francisco I spotted the symbol again above this door. This building probably use to be connected with a church but it appears to have been converted to a home now. Here’s another view of this amazing building.
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Photobucket is holding all my photos from 2007 to 2015 hostage and has replaced them all with ugly black and grey boxes asking for a ransom to have them re-published. Such a frustrating bother as I go through each post to delete the ugly boxes.