Maltese cross is the cross symbol associated with the Order of St.
John since 1567, with the traditional
Knights Hospitaller and the
Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and by extension with the island of
Malta. The cross is a white, eight-pointed cross having the form of
four "V"-shaped elements, each joining the others at its vertex,
leaving the other two tips spread outward symmetrically. This is
placed on a red background or worn on a black mantle. The term is
often wrongly applied to all forms of eight-pointed crosses
irrespective of colour or background.
3 Modern use
3.3 Military and civil orders
3.4 Regional and municipal heraldry
3.5 Logos and emblems
5 Similar crosses
7 See also
9 External links
The geometric shape of an eight-pointed cross is found in antiquity,
and especially as decorative element in Byzantine culture from about
the 6th century. The association with
Amalfi may go back to the 11th
century, as the design is allegedly found on coins minted by the Duchy
Amalfi at that time.[clarification needed] However, there is no
historically known and accepted visual evidence that the 8-point
Cross was in use by the Knights of Malta, at any of their
predecessor locations, before it appears on the coins of
1567. Claims by
Amalfi that it first appears on their coins in the
11th century is only a reference to a then common style of the 8-point
cross pattee. Therefore, Amalfi's claim to the Maltese
through extension from the founder of the order, who was sent out from
there to the
Holy Land in the late-11th century. The term "Amalfi
Cross" only developed after the 8-point cross was introduced on Malta
Knights Hospitaller during the
Crusades used a plain
The association of the "Maltese Cross" with the order dates to the
late-15th century, it is possibly first mentioned in 1489 in a
regulation requiring the knights of
Malta to wear "the white cross
with eight points". However, these 8-points do not signify that the
shape required was that of the four-arrowhead form of 1567, or
anything near it, as there are many variants of an 8-point cross.
The association with
Malta arose after the
Knights Hospitaller moved
Malta in 1530. The first evidence for use of the
Malta appears on the 2
Tarì and 4
Tarì Copper coins
of the Grand Master
Jean Parisot de Valette (Grand Master
1557–1568). The 2 and 4
Tarì Copper coins are dated 1567. This
provides a date for the introduction of the Maltese Cross.
Maltese cross was depicted on the two mils coin in the old Maltese
currency and is now shown on the back of the one and two
introduced in January 2008.
Maltese cross in St. John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta
In the 15th century, the eight points of the four arms of the later
Cross represented the eight lands of origin, or Langues
of the Knights Hospitaller: Auvergne, Provence, France, Aragon,
Castille and Portugal, Italy, Germany, and England (with Scotland and
The eight points also symbolize the eight obligations or aspirations
of the knights:
to live in truth
to have faith
to repent one's sins
to give proof of humility
to love justice
to be merciful
to be sincere and wholehearted
to endure persecution
Both the Order of Saint John (in German, the Johanniterorden) and the
Venerable Order of St John
Venerable Order of St John teach that the eight points of the cross
represent the eight Beatitudes. The Venerable Order's main service
organisation, St John Ambulance, has applied secular meanings to the
points as representing the traits of a good first aider:
Observant ("that he may note the causes and signs of injury")
Tactful ("that he may without thoughtless questions learn the symptoms
and history of the case, and secure the confidence of the patients and
Resourceful ("That he may use to the best advantage whatever is at
hand to prevent further damage, and to assist Nature's efforts to
repair the mischief already done")
Dextrous ("that he may handle a patient without causing unnecessary
pain, and use appliances efficiently and neatly")
Explicit ("that he may give clear instructions to the patient or the
bystanders how best to assist him")
Discriminating ("that he may decide which of several injuries presses
most for treatment by himself, what can best be left for the patient
or bystanders to do, and what should be left for the medical men")
Persevering ("that he may continue his efforts, though not at first
Sympathetic ("that he may give real comfort and encouragement to 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 and its allied orders, of the Venerable Order
of Saint John, and of their various service organisations. In past
centuries, numerous other orders have adopted the eight-pointed cross
as part of their insignia (the Order of Saint Lazarus, for example,
uses a green eight-pointed cross). In Australia, the eight-pointed
cross is part of the state emblem of Queensland.
In 1967, flight tests were conducted at Fort Rucker, Alabama, to
determine the most highly visible and effective way to mark a helipad.
There were 25 emblem designs 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 anti-semitic.
In the United States today, there are still some helipads that remain
bearing their original Maltese
The eight-pointed cross is also used to identify the final approach
fix in a non-precision 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.
Maltese civil ensign
Maltese cross is displayed as part of the Maltese civil ensign.
The Maltese euro coins of one and two euro denomination carry the
Maltese cross. It is also the trademark of Air Malta, Malta's national
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 and the Order of
Pour le Mérite
Order of Bravery
Order of Bravery is the highest military decoration of the Kingdom
Bulgaria and of the Republic of
Bulgaria and the most esteemed
The Pour le Mérite, 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 Mecklenburg-Strelitz and the
former 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.
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 Netherlands
Lion, Orange-Nassau and the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau.
In Norway, the eight-pointed
Cross is the symbol used in the Order of
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 base for the country's
four highest awards of merit: the Order of the White Eagle, Virtuti
Order of Polonia Restituta
Order of Polonia Restituta and the Order of the Military
In Portugal, the eight-pointed
Cross forms the base for the country's
Order of Merit.
The cross forms the basic form for some Spanish orders as the Order of
Charles III; the
Order of Isabella the Catholic
Order of Isabella the Catholic the Order of Montesa
and the Order of Queen Maria Luisa.
Sweden a eight-pointed cross forms the basic form for all the royal
orders of merit: the Royal Order of the Seraphim, Order of the Sword,
Order of the Polar Star
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. The Musketeers of Armagnac are currently an honorary order
( http://www.mousquetaires.asso.fr/fr) which celebrates the values of
the original Musketeers, as well as the elegant brandy from the
southwest of France, Armagnac.
Regional and municipal heraldry
Naval Jack of Italy
Naval Jack of Italy
Naval Jack of Italy features the national coat of arms of four of
the former maritime republics with the "
Amalfi cross" for
the lower left. Besides the town of
Amalfi from which is its namesake,
the cross is also displayed on various towns' coats of arms like
Aicurzio, Rolo, San Giovanni di Gerace, Fasano, Gizzeria, Murello,
Rodì Milici, Blufi, Ronchis,
San Mauro la Bruca
San Mauro la Bruca and the Province of
Numerous French communes have the eight-pointed cross on their coats
of arms. Among them are Drucourt,
Valcanville in Normandy;
Rimbachzell in Alsace;
Saint-Jean-de-Bassel in Lorraine;
Aquitaine; Chappes in Auvergne;
Arvieu in Aveyron; and Auton and
Vinon-sur-Verdon in Provence.
Many municipalities and civil parishes of Portugal, which territories
were once part of the dominions of the Knights Hospitaller, include
eight-pointed crosses in their coat of arms. Among them are Crato,
Oliveira do Hospital,
Proença-a-Nova and Gavião.
Croatia it is on the coat of arms of the town Ivanec, named after
the Knights of Saint John.
The 14th district of Prague has an eight-pointed cross on its coat of
arms. The eight-pointed cross also appears on the coats of arms of
several other Czech towns and villages, including
Central Bohemia; Doubravice in South Bohemia; Staňkovice in the
Ústí nad Labem Region; and Medlovice and
Orlovice in South Moravia.
The flag, badge, and coat of arms of the state of
Cross and as such many public services incorporate
the cross, including the
Queensland police and ambulance services. The
Cross is part of the coat of arms of The University of
Queensland. The eight-pointed
Cross 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 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
Lora del Río
Lora del Río in
Andalusia and O Barco de Valdeorras,
Castrelo de Miño, O Incio, Larouco, O Páramo, A Pobra de Trives,
Portomarín and Quiroga in Galicia.
The Swedish municipality of Mönsterås uses an eight-pointed
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, one
of the parishes of Jersey.
Logos and emblems
USVA headstone emblem 64
This article contains a list of miscellaneous information. Please
relocate any relevant information into other sections or articles.
Huguenot cross, a symbol of French Protestants, is an
eight-pointed cross with a dove.
Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe and the Malteser Hilfsdienst, the resp.
Catholic ambulance services in Germany, have an
eight-pointed cross in their emblems.
In Spain, the eight-pointed
Cross is the symbol used by the military
It is used by the
St John Ambulance
St John Ambulance organisation as their main form of
The football club AJ Auxerre, founded in 1905 by the priest Abbé
Deschamps, has an eight-pointed cross as its emblem, adapted from that
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
Det Norske Veritas uses the eight-pointed
Cross as symbol in the class
notifications telling that the ship is constructed under their
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 Diego de Santa Maria, O.P., a Dominican brother.
Cross is used by the Swedish Mounted Royal Guards as
Cross is the
Trademark of the oldest Swiss watch
manufacturer, Vacheron Constantin.
The badge of the British Army's
Bermuda Regiment combines the
eight-pointed cross of rifle regiments with elements from that of the
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 capbadge of the Bermuda
Regiment, officers cross belt of the Gurkha Rifles and now
amalgamated, the Royal Green Jackets.
The first postmark employed for the 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 Rugby Football
It is the symbol of the Royal
Shrewsbury School Boat Club, displayed
on the oars and uniform of the 1st VIII.
It is a symbol used by the ATOC on rail tickets which allow travel on
the London Underground between London Rail Terminals (e.g., between
Euston and Victoria), when passengers are travelling via London.
Alternatively, where the destination of the ticket is a London
Travelcard Zone, the inclusion of the cross allows a passenger to
undertake one single or return journey to any station within that Zone
from the London Terminal station at which they arrived.
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.
The Yale University School of Nursing uses the eight-pointed cross on
its official shield.
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas use the eight-pointed cross as
The VFW, a military veteran's organization, uses the eight-pointed
cross in its official emblem.
In US York Rite Freemasonry, the
Knights Templar (Freemasonry)
Knights Templar (Freemasonry) use the
eight-pointed cross in The Order of the Knights of Malta.
Maltese cross flower" (Lychnis chalcedonica) is so named because
its petals are similarly shaped, though its points are more rounded
into "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.
Standard form of the cross pattée
IAFF logo, on St. Florian cross
Eight-pointed crosses have been adapted for use in the cross of Saint
Lazarus 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
Fraternity since 1833. A similar cross is also used by the
Veterans of Foreign Wars
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
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 crosses with spreading limbs are often mistakenly called
"Maltese", especially the cross pattée. The official symbol of the
Alpha Tau Omega
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 cross of Saint Florian, patron saint of firefighters, is often
confused with the
Maltese cross (for example, the New York City Fire
Department so calls it); 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 St
Florian cross into its insignia, as does the International Association
of Fire Fighters.
Maltese cross should not be mistaken for the George Cross, awarded
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, shown above.
Unicode defines a character named "Maltese Cross" in the Dingbats
range at codepoint U+2720 (✠); however, the codepoint is usually
rendered as a
Wilhelm Stetter, painter, known as Master W. S. with the Maltese cross
Order of Malta
Malta Ambulance Corps
Pour le Mérite
Royal Green Jackets
^ "The gold tari also had two faces. The capite often had a globe or
the Doge's initials, whilst some people claim that the cruce
represented an eight pointed cross, today one of the principle emblems
of the city. The Amalfitan Tari circulated throughout the
Mediterranean and was for centuries Amalfi's official monetary unit."
^ Statutes of 1489 (Stabilimenta Rhodiorum militum)
^ History of the Maltese
Cross as used by the order of St. John of
Jerusalem Accessed: 6/16/2012
Euro Changeover Committee -
Euro Maltese Coins Archived
March 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
^ a b "The Maltese
Cross and its significance" GuidetoMalta.net,
History. Accessed 17 July 2013.
^ "The St. John Cross" (PDF). St. John Ambulance Service. Retrieved
^ a b Cassar Pullicino, Joseph (October–December 1949). "The Order
of St. John in Maltese folk-memory" (PDF). Scientia. 15 (4): 167.
Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 April 2016.
^ "The Quezon Service Cross". Retrieved 28 January 2013.
^ Royal Gurkha Rifles build on Coldstream Guards' success in southern
Helmand Accessed: 6/16/2012
^ CalFlora Botanical Names: T. crux-maltae
^ History and Heritage / Origin of The Maltese
2011-06-04 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 17 July 2013.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Maltese cross.
Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Sovereign Military Order of Malta - The Maltese Cross
History of the Maltese cross
History of the firefighters cross
Maltese cross symbols in the Staten Island Historical Society Online
Simple method of sketching the cross neatly
The Maltese Cross: A Cherished Symbol
[permanent dead link] The St John Ambulance
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