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The Maltese cross is a cross symbol, consisting of four " V" or
arrowhead An arrowhead or point is the usually sharpened and hardened tip of an arrow, which contributes majority of the projectile mass and is responsible for impacting and penetration (weapons), penetrating a target, as well as to fulfill some special pur ...

arrowhead
shaped concave quadrilaterals converging at a central vertex at right angles, two tips pointing outward symmetrically. It is a heraldic cross variant which developed from earlier forms of eight-pointed crosses in the 16th century. Although chiefly associated with the
Knights Hospitaller The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem ( la, Ordo Fratrum Hospitalis Sancti Ioannis Hierosolymitani), commonly known as the Knights Hospitaller (), the Knights of Rhodes, the Knights of Malta, or the Order of Saint John, ...

Knights Hospitaller
(Order of St. John, now the Sovereign Military Order of Malta), and by extension with the island of Malta, it has come to be used by a wide array of entities since the early modern period, notably the Order of Saint Stephen, the city of
Amalfi Amalfi (, , ) is a town and '' comune'' in the province of Salerno, in the region of Campania, Italy, on the Gulf of Salerno. It lies at the mouth of a deep ravine A ravine is a landform that is narrower than a canyon and is often the product ...
, the Polish Order of the White Eagle (1709), the Prussian order ''
Pour le Mérite
Pour le Mérite
'' (1740), and the Bavarian Military Merit Order (1866).
Unicode Unicode is an information technology Technical standard, standard for the consistent character encoding, encoding, representation, and handling of Character (computing), text expressed in most of the world's writing systems. The standard is mai ...
defines a character named "Maltese cross" in the Dingbats range at code point U+2720 (); however, the code point is usually rendered as a cross pattée.


History

Johann Loesel, grand prior of the Langue (Knights Hospitaller), langue of Germany, shown with the eight-pointed cross on a flag and his habit in his role as mediator in the Old Zürich War in February 1446 (illustration of Gerold Edlibach's chronicle, c. 1500) The
Knights Hospitaller The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem ( la, Ordo Fratrum Hospitalis Sancti Ioannis Hierosolymitani), commonly known as the Knights Hospitaller (), the Knights of Rhodes, the Knights of Malta, or the Order of Saint John, ...

Knights Hospitaller
during the Crusades used a plain Latin cross. Occasional use of the modern form straight-edged "eight-pointed cross" by the order begins in the early 16th century. This early form is a cross moline, cross moline (ancrée) or cross branchée ending in eight points, not yet featuring the sharp vertex of the modern design. The association of the eight-pointed cross with the southern Italy coastal town of
Amalfi Amalfi (, , ) is a town and '' comune'' in the province of Salerno, in the region of Campania, Italy, on the Gulf of Salerno. It lies at the mouth of a deep ravine A ravine is a landform that is narrower than a canyon and is often the product ...
may go back to the 11th century, as the design is allegedly found on coins minted by the Duchy of Amalfi at that time. Eight-pointed crosses appear on coins minted by the Grand Masters of the order, first shown as a bolsini-type cross embroidered on the left arm of the robe of the kneeling Grand Master on the obverse of a coin minted under Foulques de Villaret (r. 1305–1319) In 1489, the statutes of the order require all knights of Malta to wear "the white cross with eight points". Emergence of the sharp vertex of the modern "four-arrowhead" design is gradual, and takes place during the 15th to 16th century. The "Rhodian cross" of the early 16th century had almost, but not quite, achieved the "sharp arrowhead appearance". The fully modern design is found on a copper coin dated 1567, minted by Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette (r. 1557–1568). In 1577, Alonso Sanchez Coello painted Archduke Wenceslaus of Austria as Grand Prior of the Order of Malta wearing the emblem on his robes. The design appears again on coins minted in the late 17th to 18th centuries. It is shown on a copper coin dated 1693, minted under Grand Master Adrien de Wignacourt. From the end of the 17th century, it is also occasionally displayed as alternative heraldic emblem of the order. Its depiction on the facade of San Giovannino dei Cavalieri dates to 1699. File:Johanneskyrkan sigill.jpg, Early form of the eight-pointed cross (cross fourchée), seal of the provost of St John's church, Stockholm, dated 1526. File:Cross_of_the_Knights_Hospitaller.svg, Insignia of the Knights Hospitaller File:Václav Habsburský.JPG, Portrait of Archduke Wenceslaus of Austria wearing the habit of the Order of Malta (Alonso Sánchez Coello 1577) File:Detail in der St. John's Co-Cathedral, Valetta, Malta Nov 2014.JPG, Ornamental Maltese cross on the ceiling of St. John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta (Mattia Preti, 1660s). File:Gregorio Carafa.jpg, Portrait of Grand Master Gregorio Carafa (1680s) File:Maltese grano 1726 131240.jpg, Maltese ''grano'' (1726) File:Malta grano 1734 131242.jpg, Maltese ''grano'' (1734)


Symbolism

The Maltese cross as defined by the constitution of the Order of St. John remains the symbol of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, of the Order of Saint John (Bailiwick of Brandenburg), Order of Saint John and its Order of Saint John (Bailiwick of Brandenburg)#Related Orders, allied orders, of the Venerable Order of Saint John, and of their various service organisations. Numerous other modern order (distinction), orders of merit have used the eight-pointed cross. The British_Empire, British colony of Colony_of_Queensland, Queensland, Australia, adopted the Maltese cross as the state badge and on the Flag_of_Queensland, flag in 1876 for reasons unknown, its use continuing through to statehood. The eight points of the eight-pointed cross have been given a number of symbolic interpretations, such as representing the eight Langue (Knights Hospitaller), Langues of the
Knights Hospitaller The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem ( la, Ordo Fratrum Hospitalis Sancti Ioannis Hierosolymitani), commonly known as the Knights Hospitaller (), the Knights of Rhodes, the Knights of Malta, or the Order of Saint John, ...

Knights Hospitaller
(Auvergne, Provence, France, Aragon, Castille and Portugal, Italy, Germany, and the British Isles)."The Maltese Cross and its significance"
''GuidetoMalta.net'', History. Accessed 17 July 2013.
or alternatively the "eight obligations or aspirations" of the knights. Websites operated by both the German Order of Saint John (Bailiwick of Brandenburg), Order of Saint John (''Johanniterorden'') and the British Venerable Order of St John associate the eight points with the Beatitudes, Eight Beatitudes. An undated leaflet published by The Venerable Order's main service organisation, St John Ambulance, has also applied secular meanings to the points as representing the traits of a good first aider.


Modern use


Republic of Malta

The Maltese cross is displayed as part of the Flag of Malta, Maltese civil ensign, the Maritime Squadron of the Armed Forces of Malta, Maltese naval jack and President of Malta, presidential standard has a Maltese cross in each corner. The Maltese euro coins of 1- and 2-euro denomination carry the Maltese cross. It is also the trademark of Air Malta, Malta's national airline. The Maltese cross was depicted on the two-Mill (currency), mils Coins of the Maltese lira, coin in of the Maltese lira in 1972, and on the reverse of one- and two-Euro coins introduced in January 2008.


Military and civil orders

*Austria's two highest decorations, the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria and the Austrian Decoration for Science and Art, have the eight-pointed cross as their basis. *In Belgium, the eight-pointed cross is the basis of two of the country's royal orders of merit, the Order of Leopold (Belgium), Order of Leopold and the Order of Leopold II. * The Order of Bravery is the highest military decoration of the Kingdom of Bulgaria and of the Bulgaria, Republic of Bulgaria and the most esteemed Bulgarian order. *The '''', Imperial Germany's highest award for military valor, was a blue-enameled, eight-pointed cross with golden eagles between the arms. It was founded in 1740 by the francophile Prussian King Frederick the Great, and was adorned with the French legend ''Pour le Mérite'' ("For merit") in gold. Awards of the military class ceased with the dissolution of the Hohenzollern monarchy at the end of World War I in November 1918. * The coats of arms of the former duchy of Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Mecklenburg-Strelitz and the former Mecklenburg-Strelitz (district), Mecklenburg-Strelitz district contained an eight-pointed cross. Several towns in Northern Germany have an eight-pointed cross on their coats of arms, including Malchin, Mirow, Moraas, Rastow, and Sülstorf. Heitersheim and Bad Dürrheim in Southern Germany also have an eight-pointed cross on their arms. *In the Netherlands, the eight-pointed cross forms the basic form for the three highest royal orders of merit: the Orders of the Order of the Netherlands Lion, Netherlands Lion, Order of Orange-Nassau, Orange-Nassau and the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau, Gold Lion of the House of Nassau. *In Norway, the eight-pointed cross is the symbol used in the Order of St. Olav. *In the Philippines, the eight-pointed cross is a part of the pendant of the Quezon Service Cross, which is the highest honor that can be conferred in the republic. It is also found in the Order of Sikatuna, and Order of the Golden Heart. *In Poland, the eight-pointed cross forms the basis for the country's four highest awards of merit: the Order of the White Eagle, Virtuti Militari, the Order of Polonia Restituta and the Order of the Military Cross. *In Portugal, the eight-pointed cross forms the basis for the country's Order of Merit (Portugal), Order of Merit. *The cross forms the basic form for some Spanish orders such as the Order of Charles III, the Order of Isabella the Catholic, the Order of Montesa, and the Order of Queen Maria Luisa. *In Sweden, an eight-pointed cross forms the basis for all the royal orders of merit: the Royal Order of the Seraphim, Order of the Sword, Order of the Polar Star, and Order of Vasa, as well as the Order of Saint John in Sweden. * The eight-pointed cross forms the basis for the design of the Order of the Bath and the Royal Victorian Order. * In France, the Maltese cross was the symbol of the Musketeers of Armagnac, the elite military group which supported Louis XIII and Louis XIV.


Regional and municipal heraldry

*The Italian Navy, Naval Jack of Italy features the national coat of arms of four of the former maritime republics with the "Amalfi cross" for Amalfi in the lower left. Besides the town of Amalfi which is its namesake, the cross is also displayed on various towns' coats of arms, such as Aicurzio, Rolo, Emilia-Romagna, Rolo, San Giovanni di Gerace, Fasano, Gizzeria, Murello, Rodì Milici, Blufi, Ronchis, San Mauro la Bruca, and the Province of Salerno. *Numerous French communes have the eight-pointed cross on their coats of arms. Among them are Drucourt, Eysines, and Valcanville in Normandy; Rimbachzell in Alsace; Saint-Jean-de-Bassel in Lorraine (region), Lorraine; Rontalon in Aquitaine; Chappes, Puy-de-Dôme, Chappes in Auvergne (region), Auvergne; Arvieu in Aveyron; and Authon, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Auton and Vinon-sur-Verdon in Provence. The Territorial Collectivity of Saint Barthélemy also have an eight-pointed cross on its coat of arms. *Many municipalities of Portugal, municipalities and freguesia, civil parishes of Portugal, which territories were once part of the dominions of the Knights Hospitaller, include eight-pointed crosses in their coats of arms. Among them are Crato, Portugal, Crato, Oliveira do Hospital, Proença-a-Nova, and Gavião, Portugal, Gavião. *In Croatia, it is on the coat of arms of the town Ivanec, named after the Knights of Saint John. *The Prague 14, 14th district of Prague has an eight-pointed cross on its coat of arms. It also appears on the coats of arms of several other Czech towns and villages, including Dobřichovice in Central Bohemian Region, Central Bohemia; Doubravice (Strakonice District), Doubravice in South Bohemian Region, South Bohemia; Staňkovice (Litoměřice District), Staňkovice in the Ústí nad Labem Region; and Medlovice (Vyškov District), Medlovice and Orlovice in South Moravian Region, South Moravia. *The Flag of Queensland, flag, badge, and Coat of arms of Queensland, coat of arms of the state of Queensland feature an eight-pointed cross, and as such, many public services incorporate the cross, including the Queensland police and ambulance services, then it was also incorporated into the Coat of arms of Australia, Commonwealth Coat of Arms and the Queen's Personal Australian Flag, Queen's Personal Flag. The eight-pointed cross is part of the coat of arms of the University of Queensland. It is also part of the logo for various ambulance services in Australia, such as the South Australian Ambulance Service, the Queensland Ambulance Service, the Ambulance Service of New South Wales, Ambulance Victoria, St John Ambulance Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory Ambulance Service. The cross known as the Fire Service Star is also used by Country Fire Authority in Victoria as an official symbol. It can be seen on uniform hats and on Long Service and Outstanding Service badges. *Two Dutch towns, Ermelo, Netherlands, Ermelo and Montfoort, use the eight-pointed cross on their flags, and the former on its coat of arms, also. *Several municipalities in Spain also use the eight-pointed cross on their flags and coats-of-arms, including Alguaire and Amposta in Catalonia, Arroyo de la Encomienda in Castile and León, Consuegra in Province of Toledo, Toledo, La Almunia de Doña Godina in Province of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Lora del Río in Andalusia, O Barco de Valdeorras, Castrelo de Miño, O Incio, Larouco, O Páramo, A Pobra de Trives, Portomarín, Quiroga, Galicia, Quiroga in Galicia (Spain), Galicia, and Tomares in Andalusia. *The Swedish municipality of Mönsterås Municipality, Mönsterås uses an eight-pointed cross on its arms. * The coat of arms of Bardonnex, in the Swiss Canton of Geneva, displays an eight-pointed cross. * The eight-pointed cross appears on the coat of arms of the London Borough of Hackney. * The eight-pointed cross appears on the coat of arms of Saint John, Jersey, Saint John, one of the parishes of Jersey.


Aviation

In 1967, flight tests were conducted at Fort Rucker, Alabama, to determine the most highly visible and effective way to mark a helipad. Twenty-five emblem designs were tested, but the emblem depicting four blurred rotor blades, referred to as the "Maltese cross", was selected as the standard heliport marking pattern by the Army for military heliports, and by the FAA for civil heliports. However, in the late 1970s, the FAA administrator repealed this standard when it was charged that the Maltese cross was antisemitic. In the United States today, some helipads still remain bearing their original Maltese cross emblems. The eight-pointed cross is also used to identify the final approach fix in a nonprecision instrument approach (one that lacks precision vertical guidance), in contrast to the use of a lightning bolt-type icon, which identifies the final approach fix in a precision approach.


Maritime

The vessel classification society for the United States, the American Bureau of Shipping, will assign the Maltese cross symbol to vessels and offshore units for which the hull construction and/or the manufacture of its machinery and components and any associated required testing, as applicable, is carried out under ABS survey.


Medical

Several orders that are descended from the original Order of St John set up first aid and ambulance services. These also incorporated the Maltese cross into their logos: *St John Ambulance and its national organizations. *The Order of Malta Ambulance Corps. *The Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe and the Malteser Hilfsdienst, the respective Protestant and Catholic ambulance services in Germany, have an eight-pointed cross in their emblems. *Emergency medical services in Australia. This is due to the role of St John Ambulance, who continue to run the primary ambulance service in some states. *The Bombeiros da Cruz de Malta (Maltese Cross Fire Brigade), a volunteer fire and medical emergency corps in Lisbon, Portugal, founded by Portuguese members of the Order of Malta.


Other

*The "Maltese Cross" was used by ancient Celts on grave labs in Spain as early as A.D. 510. *The Huguenot cross, a symbol of Huguenot, French Protestants, is an eight-pointed cross with a Holy Spirit, dove. * The United Protestant Church of France used an emblem that combined a stylized cross and a Maltese cross. *In Spain, the golden eight-pointed cross is the symbol used by the military Medical Corps (Spain), Medical Corps. *The football club AJ Auxerre, founded in 1905 by the priest Abbé Deschamps, has an eight-pointed cross as its emblem, adapted from that of the :fr:Association catholique de la jeunesse française, Catholic Association of French Youth. *In India, the eight-pointed cross is the symbol used by the Garhwal Rifles and Rajputana Rifles. * Det Norske Veritas uses the eight-pointed cross as symbol in the class notifications telling that the ship is constructed under their monitoring. *In the Philippines, the eight-pointed cross is part of the school seal of Colegio de San Juan de Letran. It was founded by Don Juan Alonso Jeronimo Guerrero, a retired Spanish officer and one of the Knights of Malta and Fray :es:Diego de Santa María, Diego de Santa María, O.P., a Dominican brother. *The eight-pointed cross is used by the Swedish Mounted Royal Guards as their emblem. *The eight-pointed cross is the trademark of the oldest Swiss watch manufacturer, Vacheron Constantin. 's Bermuda Regiment combines the eight-pointed cross of rifle regiments with elements from that of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, Royal Artillery. Image:Blason ville uk Saint-Jean (Jersey).svg, 130px, Coat of arms of Saint John, Jersey * In the United Kingdom, the eight-pointed cross is the symbol used by rifle regiments, and has been incorporated into the badges of virtually all rifle units, including the cap badge of the Bermuda Regiment, officers' cross belt of the Brigade of Gurkhas, Gurkha Rifles and now amalgamated, the Royal Green Jackets. * The first postmark employed for the Cancellation (mail), cancellation of the then new British postage stamps in the 1840s was the shape of an eight-pointed cross and named accordingly. * The eight-pointed cross appears on the shirts of St Mark's FC (West Gorton), the forebears of Manchester City Football Club. * The eight-pointed cross is the insignia of Methodist College Belfast, and it appears on the blazers of the sixth-form pupils as its crest. * The eight-pointed cross is also the symbol of Neath RFC, Neath Rugby Football Club. * It is the symbol of the Royal Shrewsbury School Boat Club, displayed on the oars and uniform of the 1st VIII. *The eight-pointed cross with eagle, globe, and anchor in the center is used for the sharpshooter badge in the United States Marine Corps. *Malta Boat Club, a sculling club on Philadelphia's Boat House Row, uses the eight-pointed cross as its logo. *Phi Kappa Sigma, an international all-male college secret and social fraternity, uses an eight-pointed cross as its symbol. *Th
Yale University School of Nursing
uses the eight-pointed cross on its official shield. *The Crossmen from San Antonio, Texas use the eight-pointed cross as their logo. *The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States or VFW, an organization of military veterans, uses the eight-pointed cross in its official emblem. *In US York Rite Freemasonry, the Knights Templar (Freemasonry) use the eight-pointed cross in the Order of the Knights of Malta. *The Military Division of the Kappa Alpha Order, composed of members serving in or honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces, uses an eight-pointed cross in the colors of The Order. *The Drummoyne Rowing Club, a rowing club in Sydney, Australia uses the eight-pointed cross as part of its logo.


UK railway ticketing

On the National Rail network, tickets marked with a Maltese cross are valid for travel on London Underground, Docklands Light Railway and Thameslink between two London Terminals, allowing passengers to make journeys that cross London. Passengers can break their journey at any intermediate station but cannot then resume their journey by Tube, DLR or Thameslink using their cross-London ticket. Passengers holding tickets to a London fare zones, London fare zone marked with a Maltese cross can make one journey from the London Terminal at which they arrived to the zone in question.


Eponymy

The "Maltese cross flower" (''Lychnis chalcedonica'') is so named because its petals are similarly shaped, though its points are more rounded into "heart (symbol), heart"-like shapes. The flower ''Tripterocalyx crux-maltae'' was also named for the Maltese cross. The Geneva drive, a device that translates a continuous rotation into an intermittent rotary motion, is also sometimes called a "Maltese cross mechanism" after the shape of its main gear.


Similar crosses

Eight-pointed crosses were adopted for use by the French Order of Saint Lazarus, cross of Saint Lazarus in the mid-16th century. The use of the green eight-pointed cross by the Order was retained right through to the 19th century and after the secular organization of the Order after 1910. and as part of the flag of Wallis and Futuna. It has been the official badge (combined with an ellipsoid in the center) of the Delta Phi fraternity since 1833. A similar cross is also used by the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization. A variant of the Maltese cross, with three V-shaped arms instead of four, was used as the funnel symbol of the Hamburg Atlantic Line and their successors German Atlantic Line and Hanseatic Tours in 1958–1973 and 1991–1997. A five-armed variant is the "Cross" of the French Legion of Honour (''Croix de la Légion d'honneur''). A seven-armed variant, known as the "Maltese asterisk", is used as the basis of Britain's Order of St Michael and St George. Other cross (heraldry), crosses with spreading limbs are often mistakenly called "Maltese", especially the cross pattée. The royal warrant which created the Victoria Cross prescribed a Maltese cross, but the medal has always in fact been a cross pattée. The official symbol of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity is the cross pattée, though the organization's founder thought it was a Maltese cross when the organization was formed in 1865. The Nestorian cross also is very similar to both of these. The Firefighter's Cross sometimes mistakenly called the Cross of Saint Florian, for the patron saint of firefighters, is often confused with the Maltese cross (for example, the New York City Fire Department so calls it);History and Heritage / Origin of The Maltese Cross
Accessed 17 July 2013.
although it may have eight or more points, it also has large curved arcs between the points. The Philadelphia Fire Department, among others, incorporates the Firefighter's Cross into its insignia, as does the International Association of Fire Fighters. The Maltese cross should not be mistaken for the George Cross, Award of the George Cross to Malta, awarded to Malta by George VI of the United Kingdom in 1942, which is depicted, since 1964, on the national flag of Malta. The Maltese cross is depicted on the civil ensign of Malta, Maltese cross#Malta, shown above.


See also

* Wilhelm Stetter (Renaissance-era painter known as "Master W. S. with the Maltese cross") * Biker Cross * Garhwal Rifles * Iron Cross * Order of Malta * Order of Malta Ambulance Corps * * Red Cross stove * Royal Green Jackets * Babesiosis


References


External links


Sovereign Military Order of Malta - The Maltese Cross

Firefighter cross symbols in the Staten Island Historical Society Online Collections Database

Simple method of sketching the cross neatly

The Maltese Cross: A Cherished Symbol

The Myth of the "Maltese" Cross in the American Fire Service/
{{DEFAULTSORT:Maltese Cross Crosses in heraldry Christian crosses National symbols of Malta Professional symbols