Greek Initials and   

        Monograms

 

 

 

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    This page explains the meaning of the Greek letters and symbols that appear on paintings, icons and inscriptions.

 

 

Background:

 

  On many pieces of art - paintings, frescoes, carvings, tombs - appear Greek initials that abbreviate the longer names. The initials normally will appear in Capital Greek letters.

 

   Some of the initials appear in a monogram - symbols made by overlapping or combining two or more letters. For example, the Chi-Rho two letters that represent Christ (see example below).

 

 

Initials:

 

   The following table lists the common initials, provides and explanation and sample case, and maps them to the sites are featured in BibleWalks. Click on the site's name to see more information on each site.

 

  Initial Meaning Note Example Sites
        "XP"

Chi-Rho  

 Christ - the 1st 2 letters of Christos in Greek

 

 

"P" in Greek is "r" in English Click on the photos to  enlarge them.

(The XP appear as a monogram, together with ΑΩ)

     Augusta Victoria

Holy Sepulchre

Dormition

 

 

 

 

     "Α Ω"

"A w"

(Alpha-Omega)

 

The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet,

   Represents that God is eternal - spanning the beginning and the end.  Alpha Omega in a tomb inscription      Augusta Victoria

Shefaram Tombs

Dormition

Ba. Agony

 

 

     "IC XC" .   Stands for "Jesus Christ".

 

IC XC means ΙΗΣΟΥΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ  -"Jesus Christ".

  IC XC      Cross Monastery#1

Cross Monastery#2

Via Dolorosa - 8

 

      "ΜP θC"

 "ΜΡ ΘΥ"

 

 

Means "mother of God"

or:

 Theotokos, "God-bearer"

 

   MP - Mary in Greek. Refers to Virgin Mary.      Cross Monastery

Dormition

 
      "Ο ωΝ"     Means "He Who is", refers to God or his messenger.    It is usually added on the halo A detail of "Jesus calms the storm "   Orth Church, Capernaum

 Cross Monastery

 

   

     "NI KA"

   Sometimes appended  to "IC XC", means "conquers".   NIKA in a marker stone - station 8 in Via Dolorosa   Via Dolorosa - Station 8

St John Jericho

      "XC"

 

CHI and SIGMA

  Means "Christ" (short for ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ)   IC XC     Cross Monastery#1

Cross Monastery#2

Via Dolorosa - 8

 

      "IH" means Jesus (ΙΗΣΟΥΣ)      
    INBI Greek: "Iesous  Nazoraios  Basileus ton Ioudaion", meaning: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews    Represents the sign that Pontius Pilate nailed above Jesus' head, and is found on the top of the cross.    St. Andrews, Acre
        "TΦ"

 

     Tau + Phi

 means 'taphos' or 'Sepulchre' - the Holy Sepulcher

Symbol of the Greek Orthodox church    St. John the Baptist

Greek Orth., Tabor

 

More examples will appear soon...

 

 

Links

 

 

 

BibleWalks.com - walk with us through the sites of the Holy Land

 

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