In the Western culture there exist the compositions: "IHS" and also "IHC" being the first letters (iota-eta-sigma) of the name Jesus in Greek alphabet: ΙΗΣΟΥΣ (Ίησοῦς or ΙΗϹΟΥϹ with lunated sigma). The abbreviation in form "IHS" appeared in first time on the coins of Justinian II on the turn of the 7th and 8th centuries.
The order of Jesuits, in other words the Society of Jesus (Societas Iesu), adopted IHS as its fixed emblem - the symbol in 17th century. There appeared also Latin interpretations of the abbreviation IHS, among others:
- Iesus Humilis Societas - Humble Society of Jesus,
- Iesus Hominum Salvator - Jesus, Savior of men,
- In hoc signo vinces- By this sign you shall conquer.
These developed inscriptions were most likely formed because in the Middle Ages people mistakenly read the letter E as H.
Commentators unfriendly to the Catholic Church sometimes interpret the abbreviation IHS as derived from the solar idols of the Egyptian mythology: Isis, Horus and Seth. Nevertheless, present scientific knowledge does not confirm such interpretations.
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- (in Polish) Tomasz Dekert - Co oznacza skrót IHS? ("What does the abbreviation IHS mean?"), Dominikański Ośrodek Liturgiczny, date of access: 23rd of April 2009. A catholic source.