The 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
Sovereign Military Order of Malta , and by extension with the island
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.
* 1 History
* 2 Symbolism
* 3 Modern use
* 3.1 Aviation
* 3.3 Military and civil orders
* 3.4 Regional and municipal heraldry
* 3.5 Logos and emblems
* 4 Eponymy
* 5 Similar crosses
* 6 Encoding
* 7 See also
* 8 References
* 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. However, there is no historically known and
accepted visual evidence that the 8-point Maltese
Cross was in use by
the Knights of Malta, at any of their predecessor locations, before it
appears on the coins of
Malta in 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
Cross is 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 in 1567.
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
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 Euro
coins, introduced in January 2008.
Maltese cross in St. John\'s Co-Cathedral ,
In the 15th century, the eight points of the four arms of the later
Cross represented the eight lands of origin, or Langues
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 teach that the eight points of the cross
represent the eight
Beatitudes . The Venerable Order's main service
St John Ambulance
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 bystanders")
* 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
* Persevering ("that he may continue his efforts, though not at
* Sympathetic ("that he may give real comfort and encouragement to
Maltese cross as defined by the constitution of the Order of St.
John remains the symbol of the
Sovereign Military Order of Malta
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
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
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.
Civil ensign of
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
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.
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
Leopold II .
Pour le Mérite
Order of Bravery is the highest military decoration of the
Kingdom of Bulgaria
Kingdom of Bulgaria and of the Republic of
Bulgaria and the most
esteemed Bulgarian order.
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
Frederick the Great
Frederick the Great , and was adorned with the French
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
Moraas , Rastow
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
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 base 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
* 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
Order of Charles III ; the
Order of Isabella the Catholic the Order of
Montesa and the
Order of Queen Maria Luisa
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
Order of the Polar Star and
Order of Vasa , as well as the
Order of Saint John in
* The eight-pointed cross forms the basis for the design of the
Order of the Bath
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
* The 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 ,
Gizzeria , Murello
Rodì Milici ,
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
Saint-Jean-de-Bassel in Lorraine ;
Aquitaine ; Chappes in Auvergne ;
Aveyron ; and
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 Queensland
feature an eight-pointed
Cross and as such many public services
incorporate the cross, including the
Queensland police and ambulance
services. The eight-pointed
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
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
* Two Dutch towns,
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 in
O Barco de Valdeorras ,
Castrelo de Miño
Castrelo de Miño ,
O Incio ,
O Páramo , A Pobra de Trives
Portomarín and Quiroga in Galicia .
* The Swedish municipality of 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
, one of the parishes of
LOGOS AND EMBLEMS
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. Protestant and
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 Medical Corps .
* It is used by the
St John Ambulance
St John Ambulance organisation as their main
form of identification.
* 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.
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
Colegio de San Juan de Letran
Colegio de San Juan de Letran . It was founded by Don Juan
Alonso Jeronimo Guerrero, a retired Spanish officer and one of the
Malta and Fray Diego de Santa Maria, O.P., a Dominican
* 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
Vacheron Constantin .
The Badge of the British Army\'s
Bermuda Regiment combines the
Cross of rifle regiments with elements from that of the
Royal Artillery . 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
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
* 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
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 use the eight-pointed cross
as their logo.
VFW , a military veteran's organization, 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.
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.
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 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
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 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
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
* Order of
* Order of
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
* ^ Statutes of 1489 (Stabilimenta Rhodiorum militum)
* ^ History of the Maltese