I have long been fascinated with the Chi Rho symbol. Besides having one tattooed on my back, anyone that knows me knows that I have been wearing a Chi Rho necklace for the last two years or so. The necklace comes from Canterbury Pewter (it’s the “miniature” one), and is the only necklace of the kind I have ever seen.
I recently had to order my third necklace because the last one broke and I gave the first one to a good friend of mine. The necklace comes with a cool wallet-sized description of the symbol. Here’s what it says:
Since early centuries, Christian symbolism has made use of certain letter symbols… secrecy, frequently, being paramount. Chief among these was Chi Rho… first two letters in Greek for “Christ” (XPI?TO?). Constantine made great use of the Chi Rho on coins and shields and standards of his Roman legions. This was at the time when Christianity became the religion of the State.
That’s not a bad summary of the symbol, but there is an interesting story about how the symbol (also called a ‘Labarum’) came into being on Wikipedia:
Constantine had dreamed of this emblem and a voice saying “In this sign you shall conquer” (In hoc signo vinces). On waking he ordered his soldiers to put the emblem on their shields; that very day they fought the forces of Maxentius and won the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312), outside Rome.
So now you know the story of the symbol I have made my own.