C. 300-400. Late Roman. An elegant gold hoop with an attached circular plate bezel flanked by spherical baubles. The bezel features an incised Chi-Rho motif. This symbol, which derives its name from the first two letters of Jesus’ name written in Greek, is one of the most important motifs of ancient Christianity. The symbol is traditionally associated with the emperor Constantine the Great, who saw this sign in a vision before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge outside Rome in AD 312. Constantine, believing that he had been offered divine protection by the Christian God, ordered his soldiers to mark the shields with these two letters and went on to defeat his pagan rival on the battlefield. Constantine would later become the first great Christian emperor, issuing the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, which for the first time legalised Christianity. Constantine and his family would go on to build many of the most important churches of all Christendom, in Rome, Constantinople and Jerusalem, and in this way popularised the idea of Christian pilgrimage, especially to the Holy Land. This stunning item is a clear reminder of the faith of its wearer, and perhaps belonged to a Christian officer who marched with Constantine or one of his successors.
Excellent condition; wearable.
Size: UK: R 1/2 US: 8 7/8
Provenance: From an old British collection, acquired on the UK art market in the 1970s.