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Index Of All Titles


Alexander Tetradrachms
Ancient Coin Collecting 101
Ancient Coins & Modern Fakes
Ancient Counterfeits
Ancient Glass
Ancient Weapons
Ancient Wages and Prices
Ancient Weights and Scales
Anonymous Folles
Anonymous Follis
Anonymous Class A Folles
Armenian Numismatics Page
Byzantine Denominations
A Cabinet of Greek Coins
A Case of Counterfeits
Clashed Dies
Coins of Pontius Pilate
Conditions of Manufacture
Countermarked in Late Antiquity
Dictionary of Roman Coins
Doug Smith's Ancient Coins
Edict on Prices
Facing Portrait of Augustus
Fel Temp Reparatio
Fertility Pregnancy and Childbirth
Friend or Foe
Greek Alphabet
Greek Dates
Greek Mythology Link
Hellenistic Names & their Meanings
Helvetica's ID Help Page
Historia Numorum
Illustrated Ancient Coin Glossary
Imperial Mints of Philip the Arab
Latin Plurals
Latin Pronunciation
Library of Ancient Coinage
Life in Ancient Rome
Maps of the Ancient World
Military Belts
Mint Marks
Nabataean Numerals
Not in RIC
Numismatic Bulgarian
Numismatic Excellence Award
Numismatic French
Numismatic German
Numismatic Italian
Numismatic Spanish
Parthian Coins
Paleo-Hebrew Alphabet
Phoenician Alphabet
Pi-Style Athens Tetradrachms
Pricing and Grading Roman Coins
Roman Coin Attribution 101
Roman Mints
Roman Names
Serdi Celts
Silver Content of Parthian Drachms
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum
Syracusian Folles
The Evolving Ancient Coin Market
The Sign that Changed the World
The Temple Tax Hoard
Travels of Paul
Tribute Penny
Tribute Penny Debate Continued (2015)
Tribute Penny Debate Revisited (2006)
Tyrian Shekels
What Did The Julio Claudians Really Look Like?
What I Like About Ancient Coins
Widow's Mite

Chi Rho (Christogram)

The Chi Rho, Christogram is a monogram constructed from the first two letters of Christ in Greek (CRistos/Christos).  See the reverse of the coin above for an example.

In 312 A.D., Constantine dreamed he saw a Chi Rho Christogram in the sky and heard the words IN HOC SIGNO ERIS, meaning "In this sign you will be the victor." He ordered the sign of Christ on his legions standards and shields. He won a great victory and later became the first Christian Roman Emperor. He also made Christianity the official religion of the empire.



The Chi Rho symbol is frequently found on the reverse of coins issued after Constantine's victory, as a control mark, and on labarum (Chi Rho Christogram standardards) held by the emperor in various poses.  There is a variation of Chi Rho with a vertical cross, see the coin of Arcadius above (lower right).



Magnentius issued the coins with the magnificent chi-rho reverse to curry favor with orthodox Christians who were disgruntled with the Arianism of Constantius II.   Arianism maintained Christ was a created being, and that there was a time when he "was not".  The orthodox viewpoint is that Christ is part of the eternally existent Trinity, so there was never a time when he did not exist.  The KEY to the Magnentian reverse, however, is not the Chi-Rho, but the A (alpha) and the W (omega) to either side.  This is a direct allusion to the Revelation of John 1:8 (also 22:13) where Christ says:  "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending," saith the Lord, "which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."  This clearly asserts the eternal existence of Christ, which the Arian Constantius would not support.  The west tended to be more orthodox, while the east tended to be more Arian.  Magnentius' revolt was of course centered in the west, in Gaul.  The presence of the A and W clearly makes it strictly an appeal to orthodox Christians, nothing to do with any meaning the pagans might assign to it.