Thursday, February 23

Mystery Of The Celtic Cross Symbol Nearly Solved

Mysterious symbol in Cornish churchyard Cornwall

Back in march 2011 I published a post The Mystery Of The Celtic Cross With A Dollar Symbol. At the top of the post was the photo above showing, what I took to be, a dollar sign but with three lines through the centre as opposed to the normal two.

I wondered what the symbol meant. I couldn't find an answer on Google or anywhere else until that is yesterday when an an anonymous comment was left which simply said: 'It means I Have Suffered three letters overlapping, I H S.'

Now, that sort of made sense and I found out that this could have referred to say Psalm 119:107 in the bible. This reads "I have suffered much; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word". This would make sense to be on a gravestone. But this is only one translation of the Bible , some have differing interpretations.

Then I got more confused as I read a blog post on Restless Pilgrim which claims that IHS stands for the name of Jesus taken from Greek.

According to the website mentioned Jesus in Greek is ΙΗΣΟΥΣ - the first three letters being iota, eta and sigma which when translated into the English alphabet becomes IHS.

So now I'm confused as to what IHS actually stands for, especially when I also discovered that it originated from the initials of Isis, Horus and Seb, and these somehow crept into Christian early churches.

I next came across the following cartoon, knocking the Catholic religion, which again shows IHS and where it (may have) originated.

anti Catholic cartoon

It looks to me that the symbol I saw at the graveyard could well be the letters IHS overlapping, as per the anonymous comment. The only problem is as to what it definitely means. As it was by a Christian church it could easily be either I have suffered or Jesus' name.

But this is an illustration of life. We think we may well have an answer to what it is all about when more and more ideas, suggestions, solutions are placed in front of us. It's a long, winding road. Let's hope it finally reaches somewhere perfect.

Cornwall Photos on "Mike's Cornwall" Blog

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  1. Here's a more modern version of it on this grave Mike.

  2. A mystery! That cartoon is delightfully funny.

  3. Darren: Thanks for that link. Also there are a couple of other interps. for IHS.

    Trish: Religion can be funny!

  4. Anonymous05:25

    I am a Catholic priest; I find your Chick tract offensive. Anyway, IHS is a Latinized version of Iota, Eta, Sigma. The capital iota looks like a capital I; the capital eta looks like a capital H; you may recall from high school math classes that a capital sigma looks a bit like a sideways W; here it is made to look like a Latin S. These represent the first three Greek letters of the name Jesus.

  5. Thanks anon. Your explanation is one I mentioned in the post. Unfortunately, I don't remember that from maths!

  6. Anonymous01:29

    i agree with the priest as I am greek :)

  7. Mark Faulkner11:14

    I've wondered about this as I regularly walk through my local grave yard. My thought was could it be the sign of a stone mason! But I'm guessing I'm wrong.