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June 28, 2017
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The Maltese Cross
Updated On: Apr 13, 2008

 

The Maltese Cross

 
The Maltese Cross is known around the world as a symbol of the fire service. It is often seen painted on fire trucks, on the clothing of firefighters, depicted on firefighters badges, and is quite often the chosen design of firefighter tattoos. So where did the Maltese Cross come from, and how did it get to be known as a symbol of the fire service?

The Maltese Cross is named after the island of Malta, which came to be the home of the Knights of St. John. The Knights of St. John existed during the 11th and 12th centuries. The armor worn by the Knights covered their entire bodies as well as their faces. Because of this it was often difficult for the knights to recognize one another during battle. They realized they would need some type of symbol that could be used to quickly and easily identify themselves. They chose the Cross of Calvary, which would later be known as the Maltese Cross.

During the Crusades, the Knights of St. John, fought the Saracens for possession of the Holy Lands, they were faced with a new device of war --- fire.

As the crusaders advanced on Jerusalem, the Saracens pelted them with glass bombs full of naphtha and then threw down flaming torches. Hundreds of knights were burned alive while others risked their lives to save their kinsmen from painful fiery deaths. Thus these became the first firefighters. Their heroic efforts were recognized by fellow crusaders who awarded them with a badge of honor similar to the cross firefighters wear today.

The eight 'points' on the Maltese Cross symbolize the following as illustrated below.

Maltese Cross

The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection. It means that the firefighter who wears this cross is willing to lay down his or her life .... just as the Crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow man so many years ago.

The Maltese Cross is a firefighter's badge of honor, signifying that he or she works in courage, pride and honor...


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