JHS Meaning...Learn its History in Christianity

Did you ever notice this symbol located in the center of the altar?

It is a “Christogram” or a religious symbol for Jesus Christ. Originating in Medieval Western Europe, JHS (or IHS) is a Latin acronym for Jesus Hominum Salvator – Jesus Savior of Mankind.

The Christogram “HIS” is a monogram symbolizing Jesus Christ.

From the Greek letters, it is an abbreviation of the name ΙΗΣΟΥΣ (Jesus). This is where some might interchange the “I” for a “J” (because there is no equivalent of the letter “J” in the Greek or Latin alphabet).

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Christogram is composed with letters X, P, I and X arranged into the cross. They are the first letters of one from two words in Greek language: Christ and Jesus Christ.

In the Western culture there exist the compositions: “IHS” and also “IHC” being the first letters (iota-eta-sigma) of the name Jesus in Greek alphabet: ΙΗΣΟΥΣ (Ίησοῦς or ΙΗϹΟΥϹ with lunated sigma). The abbreviation in form “IHS” appeared in first time on the coins of Justinian II on the turn of the 7th and 8th centuries.

The order of Jesuits, in other words the Society of Jesus (Societas Iesu), adopted IHS as its fixed emblem - the symbol in 17th century. There appeared also Latin interpretations of the abbreviation IHS, among others:

Iesus Humilis Societas - Humble Society of Jesus,

Iesus Hominum Salvator - Jesus, Savior of men,

and also:

In hoc signo vinces- By this sign you shall conquer.

These developed inscriptions were most likely formed because in the Middle Ages people mistakenly read the letter “E” as “H” (because of the “eta” sound in the Greek).

According to a legend, this inscription with the cross was seen by emperor Constantine the Great in his sleep before the battle against Maxentius in 312 on the Ponte Milvio.

So, there you have it. “IHS” is a shorthand for “Jesus”. It was used in the Early Church from at least 7th Century and adopted as the seal of the Jesuits in the 16th Century and can now be found in Christian art and architecture throughout the world.

It is impressive that this Christogram has survived all these centuries and can be seen throughout the world in many Catholic, Episcopalian and Protestant churches. Often this symbol is inscribed on the Holy Eucharist.

#Lord #JesusChrist #history #CityofCharleston #Christ #CharlestonSC #EpiscopalChurch #Christians #religion


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