Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An ecclesiastical banner, especially one carried in processions.
  • noun The banner adopted by Constantine I after his conversion to Christianity.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A Roman military standard adopted by the later emperors as the imperial standard.
  • noun A standard or banner of similar form, borne in ecclesiastical processions of the Roman Catholic Church.
  • noun Figuratively, a moral standard, guide, or device.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The standard adopted by the Emperor Constantine after his conversion to Christianity. It is described as a pike bearing a silk banner hanging from a crosspiece, and surmounted by a golden crown. It bore a monogram of the first two letters (ΧΡ) (which appear like the English letters X and P), of the name of Christ in its Greek form. Later, the name was given to various modifications of this standard.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The Roman military standard adopted by Constantine I. The banner was known for its Christian chi-rho sign - .

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Late Latin, probably from alteration of Greek labrāton, laurel-leaf standard, from Latin laureātum, neuter of laureātus, adorned with laurel; see laureate.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin labarum, from Ancient Greek λαβαρόν (labaron).

Examples

  • The term labarum, which is of uncertain derivation, was probably familiar in the Roman army from the reign of Hadrian.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 8: Infamy-Lapparent

  • Maxentius, saw in the clouds, as well as his whole army, the grand imperial standard called the labarum, surmounted with a

    A Philosophical Dictionary

  • The solemn epithets of, safety of the republic, glory of the army, restoration of public happiness, are equally applied to the religious and military trophies; and there is still extant a medal of the emperor Constantius, where the standard of the labarum is accompanied with these memorable words, By This Sign

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

  • After the battle, Constantine adopted the labarum — ☧, a juxtaposition of the Greek letters chi (X) and rho (P) as a symbol for Christ — as his monogram.

    Putting the X back in Christmas « Motivated Grammar

  • After the battle, Constantine adopted the labarum — ☧, a juxtaposition of the Greek letters chi (X) and rho (P) as a symbol for Christ — as his monogram.

    2009 December « Motivated Grammar

  • One author tries to link the oriflamme to Charlemagne's lance and through it all the way back to Constantine's labarum, which was taken from a pagan sanctuary located near modern Saint-Denis.

    l'Oriflamme

  • He received it, notwithstanding the labarum, and received further the title of Pontifex Maximus, which he retained all his life.

    A Philosophical Dictionary

  • One author tries to link the oriflamme to Charlemagne's lance and through it all the way back to Constantine's labarum, which was taken from a pagan sanctuary located near modern Saint-Denis.

    Archive 2007-07-15

  • They found more crosses, nine ancient swords, and a labarum, an imperial Roman standard.

    SERPENT

  • They found more crosses, nine ancient swords, and a labarum, an imperial Roman standard.

    SERPENT

Comments

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  • "The labarum was a military standard which displayed the first two Greek letters of the word Christ ( Greek: ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ or Χ�?ιστός )—Chi (χ) and Rho, (�?).1 It was first used by the Roman emperor Constantine I (Greek: Μέγας Κωνσταντίνος ).

    The etymology of the word before Constantine's usage of it is unclear."

    - Wikipedia

    October 16, 2007

  • Thanks, John. Always loved this symbol, for many reasons.

    October 16, 2007

  • Curious: what reasons?

    October 16, 2007

  • There's that x again, just like in xmas. :)

    October 16, 2007

  • Mostly sentimental, npydyuan. One reason is that I was raised Catholic, and this symbol was worked into the railing around the altar at our church. Seeing it always makes me think of home. :-) I also like the visual symmetry and the meaning itself.

    October 16, 2007

  • I see. I would have been raised Catholic if either of my parents had kept up with it; as it was, we only went to mass when visiting my grandparents in South Dakota. But I still have a soft spot for Catholic paraphernalia. :-)

    October 16, 2007

  • Catholic paraphernalia. Now there's a phrase. ;-)

    October 16, 2007