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IHS is a monogram regularly used on Catholic objects. This monogram emerged in the high Middle Ages. IHS can be found, for example, on church facades, confessionals, prayer cards, chasubles and altar rails.

The monogram IHS is the representation of the first three letters of Jesus in Greek capital letters (ΙΗΣΟΥΣ): Iota, Eta and Sigma. This is also written as IHC. The capital letter S is originally written as Σ in Greek. In late antiquity and during the early Middle Ages, this was written as a C. From the later Middle Ages, circa. 14th century, the S was used, always representing the sigma (Σ). However, the H remained H, even though it is actually an E.

Since not everyone realized that they were originally Greek letters and that the letter H in Greek is an E, the monogram appeared to have become enigmatic. This probably prompted the creation of other explanations in which the monogram became an abbreviation for a Latin phrase. The most common variants of this are:

  • Iesus hominum salvator (Jesus the saviour of men).
  • In hoc signo (In this sign (thou shalt conquer)), in reference to the dream that the Roman emperor Constantine the Great supposedly had.

The monogram has been widely used as a logo by the Catholic order of Jesuits, since the order's founder, Ignatius of Loyola, chose it as his seal mark. They also gave it some new meanings:

  • Iesum habemus socium (We have Jesus as a companion);
  • Iesu humilis societas (The little society of Jesus)

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