The name given to the banner of Emperor constantine i, an adaptation of the Roman cavalry standard (vexillum ) with the pagan emblems replaced by Christian symbols. After his victory at the Milvian bridge (313), Constantine made the labarum the imperial flag of the western Empire, and from 324, for the entire Roman Empire. It was accompanied by an honor guard of 50 soldiers, outstanding for their bravery and devotion to the Christian faith (Eusebius, Vita Constantini 1.26).
Eusebius stated that the labarum was designed by Constantine himself on the day after his alleged vision of the cross. The banner consisted of a long gilt spear with a transverse bar forming a cross, crowned with a wreath of gold and precious stones enclosing the chi-rho monogram of Christ with a square purple banner inscribed ΤΟϒΤΩ NIKA ("by this sign conquer") and embroidered with precious stones interlaced with gold hanging from the cross-bar. There were medallions of the Emperor and his sons immediately above this banner (Eusebius, Vita Constantini 1.26). The labarum is pictured on Constantinian coins from 314. Variants of the original labarum were supplied to all legions; the variety of design, together with the constancy of the essential parts, can be seen upon comparison of several preserved Constantinian coins. After a period of brief eclipse during the reign of Emperor Julian (361–363), the labarum was brought back to a place of honor by Jovian and housed in the imperial palace in Constantinople. The significance of the labarum transcends its use as the first Christian military standard. In effect it proclaimed that Constantine, aware of the bankruptcy of the old psychological stimuli to geopolitical solidarity, was calling on the labarum to provide a new stimulus and rallying point; and it meant that Christianity was agreeing to ride at the head of a huge organized military force and share the fortunes of an earthly power.
Bibliography: eusebius, Vita Constantini 1.26–31; Hist. eccl. 9.9.2. h. grÉgoire, Byzantion 4 (1927–28) 477–482. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou (Paris 1907–53) 8.1:927–962. j. j. hatt, Latomus 9 (1950) 427–436.
[a. g. gibson]
"Labarum." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 23, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/labarum
"Labarum." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved October 23, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/labarum
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.