The History of the Maltese Cross

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The Maltese Cross was introduced to Malta by the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem upon taking possession of the islands in 1530, and remains the Symbol of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The Maltese Cross has become an intrinsic part of Malta's culture and heritage, as well as a much-cherished symbol by the Maltese.

The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, now commonly known as the Knights of Malta, can trace their origin to a group of monks attached to a hospice built in the Holy Lands to aid pilgrims. Over time, the monks started offering armed escort to travelers as they passed through perilous Syrian territory. Following the success of the First Crusade, the Hospitallers evolved into a military order.

The Maltese Cross, formally adopted by the Knights Hospitallers of St. John in 1126, stylistically owes its origins to the crosses used in the crusades, when it was identified as the symbol of the "Christian warrior". Its eight points denote the eight obligations or aspirations of the Knights, namely:

1. Loyalty
2. Piety
3. Frankness
4. Bravery
5. Glory and honor
6. Contempt of death
7. Helpfulness towards the poor and sick
8. Respect for the church

With time, the eight points also came to represent the eight languages or national groupings of the noblemen who were admitted to the famed order, namely those of:

1. Auvergne
2. Provence
3. France
4. Aragon
5. Castille and Portugal
6. Italy
7. Baviere (Germany)
8. England (with Scotland and Ireland)

By 1530 the Maltese Cross had become the established symbol of the Order, and as the Knights set about putting their stamp on the Maltese Islands through their inspired architectural achievements and patronage of the arts, so the Maltese Cross provided the signature to this glorious legacy. The Maltese Cross decorates the coat-of-arms, palaces, hospitals, the entrances and gates to various fortresses and towers as well as coins, cannons, monuments, churches, paintings and frescoes, furniture, silverware and jewelry.

The historic Headquarters of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller were:

1. The Holy Land – home of the Knights of St. John 1040
    – 1291
2. Cyprus – home of the Knights of St. John 1291 – 1310
3. Rhodes – home of the Knights of St. John 1310 – 1523
4. Malta – home of the Knights of St. John 1530 – 1798
5. St. Petersburg – home of the Knights of St John 1798
    – 1803

Today the eight pointed Cross is synonymous with Malta.

 

 

 

 


City of Valletta/Malta

 

 

My Photo
Maltese Cross Pendant with Red Enamel
Item Number: SCP-312 - Sterling Silver 925
Size: 1 1/4 x 1 1/8 in / 33 x 28 mm (with bail)
Weight of Sterling Silver: 6,85 Grams
Website Price: $21.00Retail Price: $63.00

 


Maltese Cross


Maltese Cross from St.
John's Cathedral in
Valletta/Malta

Old Maltese Cross Coin 1567


New Maltese Cross Coin
1 Euro 2008

Malta's Location

City of Valletta/Malta