labarum

labarum

[lab-er-uhm]
noun, plural labara [lab-er-uh] .
1.
an ecclesiastical standard or banner, as for carrying in procession.
2.
the military standard of Constantine the Great and later Christian emperors of Rome, bearing Christian symbols.

Origin:
1650–60; < Late Latin, of obscure origin

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World English Dictionary
labarum (ˈlæbərəm)
 
n , pl -ra
1.  a standard or banner carried in Christian religious processions
2.  the military standard bearing a Christian monogram used by Constantine the Great
 
[C17: from Late Latin, of obscure origin]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

labarum

sacred military standard of the Christian Roman emperors, first used by Constantine I in the early part of the 4th century AD. The labarum-a Christian version of the vexillum, the military standard used earlier in the Roman Empire-incorporated the Chi-Rho, the monogram of Christ, in a golden wreath atop the staff. The flag was made of purple silk (purple dye being at this time a rarity derived from a shellfish of the genus Murex) richly embroidered with gold. Although usually suspended from a horizontal bar, it appears to have been displayed occasionally by fastening one of its sides to its staff. In the Middle Ages the pastoral staff of a bishop often had attached to it a small purple scarf known as the vexillum, supposedly derived from the labarum.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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