The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


Rod spent his early years as a server, choirboy and crucifer at the Church of St Edmund KM, in Northwood Hills, Middlesex. Above the altar was a circular window and he was intrigued by the device upon it. This seemed to consist of a capital letter P with a saltire cross on its stem. He was told that the vertical of the P doubled as a capital I and that the whole represented a monogram of Christ. This device can also be seen on monuments, ecclesiastical vestments and elsewhere - there are many variations and elaborations.

Festival Edition 2010

The Monogram of Christ

Later he learned that the cross was the Greek letter X (Ch), the P was in fact the Greek P (Rho) and that the monogram XPI comprised the first three letters of Christ in the Greek alphabet.

Tradition has it that the Emperor Constantine 1 (AD274-306) saw this image in the sky, and recognised it as a favourable sign. He then heard a voice which said - “In his sign you will conquer”. In AD312 his soldiers carried the device on their shields and it was carried into battle as the official imperial symbol. He was victorious in the battle of Milvian Bridge, and attributed the victory to the device.

Whilst at the Holy Island of Lindisfarne a few years ago, Rod examined a facsimile of the Lindisfarne Gospels, where he observed an artistic variation of the Chi-Rho. Similar elaborate designs are seen in the Book of Kells, the Book of Durrow and other biblical texts done before the 10th century.

Rod, being interested in calligraphy and illumination, encouraged his students to devise their own artwork in the Chi-Rho. He produced as an example, his own version.

Rod Dawson