Most Christian crosses with lettering are Christograms or Chrismons, that is, monograms of Jesus Christ. These include Alpha and Omega, Chi-Rho, Ichthys, ICXC and IHS. The most common lettered crosses that are not monograms, are the INRI and PAX crosses. On this page, we look at the meaning of another non-monogram cross, the Phos Zoe Cross.
The Greek letters that make up this cross are
- phi (Φ), omega (Ω) and sigma (Σ), spelling Phos, and
- zeta (Ζ), omega (Ω) and eta (Η), spelling Zoe
Phos is Greek for 'light' and Zoe is Greek for 'life'. Therefore the Phos Zoe Cross symbolizes the light and life of Christ1. The nature of light is that it cannot help but banish darkness.2 This light enables us to see the spiritual truth. The nature of life is the opposite of death. Human life ends, but through Christ, our spiritual life is everlasting.3
In the Roman alphabet, some people prefer to write 'GOD' in uppercase. Similarly, various Greek fonts are used when writing Phos Zoe.
Sometimes the omega is lowercase (ω) and Orthodox churches usually replace the sigma (Σ) with the Eastern form of Greek lunate sigma which resembles, but is not related to, the Latin letter 'C'.