Monogram for the Holy Name
According to the ancient mind, a person’s name was the expression of his nature, work, or mission. Early Christians accordingly used our Saviour’s Name to bring to mind His adorable Person; and in their art they gave it the following shortened or symbolic forms:
a) The Chi-Rho Symbol. The oldest monuments bearing this symbol date to the third century, the first being found on a burial inscription of a consul from the year 369. From the third century we have the following authentic forms: (1) the separate letters; (2) the superimposed letters; (3) the monogram cross. After the triumph of Christianity, the Chi-Rho monogram spread into all countries and found manifold use. It no longer served as a mere abbreviation of the sacred Name, but stood as a symbol for Christ the King. Artists often surrounded it with a laurel wreath or a circle. This signified Christ’s dominion over the world, or His triumph over all enemies of His kingdom.