December 14 – Chi Rho
In his book on the life of the Emperor Constantine, the Church Father Eusebius of Caesarea (263-339 A.D.), wrote that prior to the final battle against Maxentius in the Saxa Rubra, Constantine decided that the fight would be carried not by armies, but by divine favor. He considered his predecessors, fighting in the names of many deities for fear of offending any and hoping for help from all. Without exception, they failed and perished. He resolved to fight only in the name of the God of his father, Constantius, and prayed to Him. Eusebius then wrote “while he was praying, God sent him a Vision of a Cross of Light in the Heavens at Mid-day, with an Inscription admonishing him to conquer by that.” This vision was the chi-rho, an ancient monogram of Christ that comes from the first two letters of the Greek word XPICTOC (pronounced Christos). In the ensuing battle, Constantine’s Army of Gaul won a total victory, and Maxentius perished while fleeing with his defeated army over the Bridge at Milvian, which spanned the Tiber river and led into Rome (27 Oct 312 A.D.). Constantine later made Christianity legal in the Roman empire, rejecting the violent persecutions of Christians under his predecessor Diocletian (235-284 A.D.).
The chi-rho comes from “chi”, written “X” in Greek and “rho”, written “P” in Greek. This symbol is the oldest one in use and is often called a “Christogram”. Simplifying the symbol, the X stands for Christ and is used in Xmas, an abbreviation for Christmas.
Like many of the symbols, the X is found everywhere in our environment, whether man-made or natural. In the providence of God, He has given us many symbols to remind us of Him and His goodness to us. They are also useful ways to communicate God’s blessings to those who do not know Him. During this holiday season and throughout the New Year, take advantage of the opportunities you have to share your faith. Speak boldly for Christ and share your blessings with others. You and they will be glad you did.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Said the night wind to the little lamb
Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy
Said the shepard boy to the mighty king
Said the king to the people everywhere
The child, the child