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Constantine’s sign

21 June 2013


From Canon Brian Davis
Sir, - The Revd Patrick Irwin (Prayer for the Week, 14 June) makes a common mistake. He states that in AD 312 Constantine "saw the cross in the sky, accompanied by the words, 'In this sign conquer'".

What he is recorded as seeing was the labarum, or Chi-Rho, the first two letters of Christos, a common Christian symbol from early times. It was this that he caused to be painted on to the shields of his soldiers at the Battle of Milvian Bridge, when he defeated his rival Maxentius.

Many of us today would be deeply uncomfortable with the idea of the cross "as an encouragement to armies and nations".

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