Order of Knights of Rome and of the Red Cross of Constantine
Sometimes called the Order of the Red Cross of Constantine, said to be the oldest Order of Knighthood conferred in connection with Freemasonry. The origin of the Order is attributed to Constantine the Great, who, just before the battle of Saxa Rubra, October 28, A. D. 312, beheld a vision of the Passion Cross in the heavens, with the inscription (usually given in Greek): "Hoc Vince" (Conquer by This), general rendered: "In Hoc Signo Vinces," whereupon he vowed that, if successful against the enemy and his life was spared, he would create an Order of Knighthood to champion the Christian religion and commemorate his victory. This he is declared to have done at Rome, December 25, A. D. 312. Constantine, at the time of his vision, was not a believer in the Christian religion, and he and his friends believed that the Cross in the heavans was a divine omen. To emphasize his conversion to Christianity, Constantine cause each of his officers who had embraced the Christian religion and received at his hands the new Order of Christian Knighthood to wear a Red Cross on the breast or on the right arm, and on the Roman Imperial standards he placed golden wreaths, and within them monograms composed of the Greek letters "Chi" (X) and "Rho" (P), the first two letters of the name Christ.
Source: The Cyclopaedia of Fraternities, Albert C. Stevens, 1907.
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