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The History of the Maltese Cross by Taylor Hancock PDF Print E-mail

ByTaylor Hancock

The Maltese Cross is the badge of the firefighter. It is a symbol of protection and honor. The history of this symbol is hundreds of years old and begins with the crusaders known as the Knights of St. John.

When the Knights of St. John first fought the Saracens (Muslims) for the Holy Land, the Saracens used a weapon unknown to the European warriors. This weapon consisted of a glass container or a bottle filled with a highly flammable liquid which was thrown into the crowd of the crusaders and then broke drenching them in the liquid. Following this, the Saracens would throw a torch into the crowd setting all who came in contact on fire. This was the first recording of what has evolved into what we know to day as the Moltov Coacktail. A group of crusaders knew it would it would be a dangerous mission but took it upon themselves to rescue their brothers in arms from this fiery inferno. These were our first fire fighters.

After the battle, these heroes where honored by the gift of a badge of honor, which looks very similar to the cross the fire fighters wear today. The knights of St. John remained for over four centuries on a small island in the Mediterranean called Malta. After many good acts were recognized by these brave firemen, the cross was then named the Maltese Cross.

Although the idea of the “Maltese Cross” was first used in the time of the crusaders, it was derived from another cross-type emblem used by the Italian Republic of the 11th Century called the Amalfi Cross. This crosses eight points represented the eight points of courage: Loyalty, Piety (devout), Generosity, Bravery, Glory and Honor, Contempt of Death, Helpfulness towards the poor and sick, and Respect. Even today the idea still stands as a firefighter is all of these things and must retain the idea if being an honorable person of service to our fellow man. The Knights of St. John adopted this idea and awarded a badge in the new design of the cross to the protectors of the people.

The cross may have changed its shape, but it still represents the same idea. Today all Fire Fighters wear this symbol to show that we, as firemen, put our lives on the line to protect yours.

Taylor Hancock

3/26/2009