Crosses with Lettering

Graffiti on grave stones is a common form of vandalism. Here we look at some legitimate writing on crosses.

INRI Cross

If a Christian cross has an inscription, it is most often "INRI", since this represents the wording on Christ's cross. Other lettering includes PAX and ΦΩΣ ΖΩΗ (Phos Zoe), and monograms (Christograms or Chrismons) such as ΑΩ (Alpha & Omega), XP (Chi Rho), ICXC, IHS and ΙΧΘΥΣ (Ichthys). The characters are usually Latin or Greek.

Links to some of these crosses are shown on this page, plus a few other crosses which happen to include significant lettering.

CRCN logo

CCCB logo

These are popular with various Christian organisations, such as the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), whose logo is a Latin Cross with a circular arrangement of letters to form a Celtic Cross, and also the Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria (CRCN) with a red cross covering a map of the entire country. See Church Logos for more.

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Biker Cross St. Nicholas's or St. Olga's Cross. And Santa Claus! Fleur-de-lis stylised as 'M' on the Scarlet Cross of Calatrava zodiac Military Cross Gamma Cross, also known as a Swastika Gamma Cross, also known as a Suavastika St. Andrew Ambulance logo Gamma Cross, often confused with the Voided Cross A Pictish cross on the island of Papa Stronsay Marian cross devoted to the Virgin Mary Kabbalah or Theosophy Catholic War Veterans Francis of Assisi Cross Prince of Peace What is the meaning of the inscription on this cross? Prayer Cross INRI Cross, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews Roofed or Alpha Cross Alpha and Omega Cross; the beginning and the end Alpha and Omega Cross; the beginning and the end Alpha and Omega Cross; the beginning and the end Pax or Peace Cross IHS Cross Marian Cross Ichthys Cross or Jesus Fish Cross Cross of Grace, Mercy or Forgiveness DUX LUX REX LEX Cross St. Benedict Cross Phos Zoe Cross, the Light and Life of Christ Phos Zoe Cross, the Light and Life of Christ Tsar Slavy Cross ICXC Cross or Conqueror's Cross Iota-ChiA monogram of Jesus Christ Chi Rho Cross, a warrior's cross. Chi Rho Cross, a warrior's cross. Chi Rho Cross, with Alpha Omega Wedding, Marriage or Cana Chi Rho Cross, a warrior's cross. Chi Rho Cross, with Alpha Omega Omega (captial) Omega (captial) Omega (captial) Omega (captial) Omega (captial) Omega (captial) omega (small) omega (small) omega (small) omega (small) omega (small) omega (small) Northern Cross, a romantic cross Southern Cross, a stars and stripes cross

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Some of the more common lettering includes:

AcronymLatin (or Greek)English
ADAnno DominiYear of Our Lord
• Used to indicate a year after Christ's birth. The current year is AD (not AD). Before the year of Christ's birth is BC. The increasingly common secular version is CE (Common Era) and BCE (Before Common Era) but of course these tend not to appear in a religious context.
AMAve MariaHail Mary
• A salutation asking for the intercession of the Virgin Mary.
AMDGAd Majorem Dei GloriamFor the greater glory of God
• Said to have been coined by St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).
ΑΩAlpha & OmegaJesus Christ eternal
BC Before Christ
• See also AD (above). Where AD comes before the year, BC comes after. For example Abraham lived around 1700 BC (depending on which school you went to), which is about 3,700 years ago. The calendar system that gave rise to the use of AD and BC began in the 6th or 7th century.
BMBonae MemoriaeOf Happy Memory
BVM Blessed Virgin Mary
C AOMPS DChristus Ab Omni Malo Plebem Suam DefendatChrist defends His people against every evil
C et CaTContemplare et Contemplata aliis TradereTo Contemplate and hand on to others the fruit of our contemplation
• A motto of the Dominican Order
CSSMLCrux sacra sit mihi luxHoly Cross be my light
• Often on the St. Benedict Medal
CV CR CIChristus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperatChrist conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands
DMeODeus Meus et OmniaMy God and My All
• A motto of the Franciscan Order
DNDominus NosterOur Lord
DNJCDominus Noster Jesus ChristusOur Lord Jesus Christ
EADEcce Agnus DeiBehold the Lamb of God
• From "Ecce Agnus Dei qui tollit peccata mundi" (Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world). See John 1:29
EENSExtra Ecclesiam Nulla SalusOutside the Church there is no salvation
• Not usually seen outside Catholicism
Fel MemFelicis MemoriaeOf Happy Memory
• Inscribed on grave crosses
• Acrostic: "Jesus as Christ, God's Son, and Saviour"
IC XCIota Sigma, Chi SigmaJesus Christ
IC represents the Greek characters Iota (Ι) and Sigma (Σ) - the first and last letters of Jesus (ΙΗΣΟΥΣ). (UC is sometimes seen in place of, or in addition to, IC. See below.) The letters XC represent Chi (Χ) and Sigma (Σ) - the first and last letters of Christ (ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ).
IHSΙΗΣThe first three letters of 'Jesus' in Greek
• Sometimes written as IHC or JHS
INRIIesus Nazarenus Rex IudeorumJesus the Nazorean, King of the Jews
• The titulus placed at the top of Jesus' Cross
• Iota is the first letter of 'Jesus' in Greek and Chi is the first letter 'Christ' in Greek. A simpler explanation is sometimes given: In Christo (In Christ).
JHSΙΗΣThe first three letters of 'Jesus' in Greek
• More commonly written as IHS
LBPLaudare, Benedicere, PraedicareTo praise, to bless and to preach
• From the Dominican Missal, Preface of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and motto of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans)
MR QUMeter TheouMother of God
• Greek acronym
NDNotre DameOur Lady
• French
NIKA Victor
• Greek, often seen with IC XC to form 'Jesus Christ, Victor'
ΩOmega"the great O"
• Eternity
OLOra et LaboraPrayer and Work
• A motto of the Benedictine Order and of the Trappists. Also an acronym for 'Our Lady'
• A motto of the Benedictine Order
ΦΩΣ ΖΩΗPhos ZoeLight and life of Christ
RIPRequiescat In PaceMay he / she rest in peace
• Inscribed on grave crosses. On war memorials RIP may be considered in the plural is Requiescant in pace.
SDServus DeiServant of God
SMRSancta Maria ReginaHoly Mary, Queen (of Heaven)
• See example on Keys Cross.
TF et OPTuitio Fidei et Obsequium PauperumTo defend the faith and to serve the poor
• A motto of the Knights of Malta
UC XC Jesus Christ
• See IC XC above
UIOGDUt In Omnibus Glorificetur DeusThat God may be glorified in all things
• A motto of the Benedictine Order
Veritas Truth
• (Named after the mythical Roman goddess of truth, a daughter of Saturn and the mother of Virtue). Veritas is a motto of the Dominican Order
VGFAVotum Fecit Gratiam AccepitVow made, graces received
• Seen on crosses above votive offering plates
ωomega"the small o"
• Eternity
XPChi RhoChrismon
• Constantine's sign from God

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