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On certain depictions of the Crucifix, both sculpted and pictoral, especially as related to the Catholic religion, one may see a stylized plaque or parchment with the letters INRI just above or below the figure of Jesus Christ. In some cases, these letters may be carved into the cross.

In the Gospel of John (19:19-20) the inscription is explained:

"Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, 'Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.' Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek."

Latin for "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews" is "Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum" and the acronym for this title is INRI.

Pilate was loathe to crucify Jesus without some strong justification. The one he used was the standing Roman treaty with the Jews which allowed them self-government. When it was complained that Jesus was interfering with that self-rule by holding himself to possess authority that He lacked, Pilate challenged him to deny that he was called "King of Jews." Jesus did not deny the accusation.

Some believe that the justification for his crucifixion was that he claimed an illegitimate title. However John 19:21-22 states that Pilate rejected the charge that Jesus was crucified because he falsely claimed to be king and instead stated that the reason Jesus was crucified was because he was the King of the Jews. Thus, Pilate personally was convinced that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. This is further corroborated by the Eastern Orthodox Feast of Saint Pontius Pilate on June 25 since early church histories state that after converting to Christianity, Pilate himself was martyred by double crucifixion.

Some Eastern Orthodox depictions of the Crucifix have a slight variation, showing instead the letters INBI, based on the Greek text of the inscription on the cross (Iésous o Nazóraios o Basileus tón Ioudaión), rather than on the Latin text.