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IHSThis post is the third in a new series reflecting on Christian signs, symbols, and similar (Ichthus; Chi Rho).

I have not been able to find a very early occurrence of “IHS”. There are some (online) who claim that it is to be found in the catacombs, but I have yet to locate a safe affirmation of that.

The most common interpretation is that IHS (or its alternate IHC) is a christogram, based on the first three capital letters of the name of Jesus in Greek, ΙΗΣΟΥΣ (this is semi-Latinised to IHSOVS).

Using C for Σ began in the 4th Century BC, becoming standard in late antiquity and the Middle Ages. Hence IHC from ΙΗϹΟΥϹ.

Alternative interpretations have included

  • Jesus Hominum Salvator – Jesus, Saviour of people
  • Jesus Hierosolymae Salvator – Jesus, the Saviour of Jerusalem (Hierosolyma).
  • In Hoc Signo (In hoc signo vinces) “in this sign you will conquer”, a reference to Constantine’s vision.

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