IN HOC SIGNO VINCES is a Latin phrase meaning “In this sign we will conquer.” The phrase is attributed to the Roman emperor Constantine I, who, according to legend, had a vision of the Chi Rho, a Christian symbol, before a battle against Maxentius.
After his victory, Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.
The Knights Templar
The Knights Templar were a religious order of knights founded in the 12th century. The order was created to protect Christian pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land.
The knights were also responsible for the defense of the Christian faith. The Knights Templar famously used the phrase “in hoc signo vinces” as their battle cry.
In Hoc Signo Vinces
Where is In Hoc Signo Vinces Inscribed?
These words are inscribed over a blood-red Passion Cross on the Grand Standard of a Commandery of Knights Templar.
They constitute part of the motto of the American branch of the Order and their meaning is loosley translated to: “By this sign thou shalt conquer.”
This is a substantial, but not literal, translation of the original Greek.
The source of the motto can be traced back to a well-known legend of the church. However, this legend has been met with skepticism from many scholars.
Eusebius, who wrote a biography of Constantine, claims that while the emperor was preparing for war with his rival Maxentius in Gaul, he saw the sun in the sky with a cross atop it.
This cross was made of light, and there was a banner attached that said “by this conquer.”
According to Eusebius, Constantine related this account himself. However, Lactantius, who wrote about it at a later date, claimed that it was a dream or vision rather than an actual event.
Dream or Vision?
Now, most people who don’t believe the story is a fabrication think that it was a dream or vision.
On the following day, Constantine had an image of the cross fashioned into a banner, which he thereafter used as the imperial standard. The banner was known as the labarum.
Eusebius provides a detailed description of it. It should be noted that it was not a Passion Cross, such as is now used on the modern Templar standard, but rather the monogram of Christ. The shaft was quite lengthy—a spear.
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