What Is The Chi Rho?

Q. What is the true Christian (born again) view of the Chi Rho symbol? As an ex-Catholic, I’m uncomfortable with any symbol remotely associated with the Catholic Church. I teach Sunday School at a Southern Baptist Church and walked into our Sunday School Building to see this symbol painted on the wall along with other Christian symbols designed to invoke a “Christian” atmosphere. I didn’t like it and was told it’s an early Christian symbol of Christ. When I researched it, I discovered it was actually based upon a design by Constantine when he saw a vision in the sky the day before a battle. What is your take on this?

A. The Chi Rho is a symbol that comes from the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ. While experts disagree on whether it was the sign Constantine saw in his vision, there is general agreement that it’s likely the oldest known monogram for Christ. As you know from your own experience the Catholic Church is not unique in it use of the Chi Rho as a representation of Christ, and various forms of it can be found in many parts of the Church.

One form of the Chi Rho was used by secular Greek scholars to denote parts of a manuscript they thought was particularly good, since Chi and Rho are also the first two letters in chreston, the Greek word for good.

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