Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Maltese Cross

The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem gave Malta the heritage of the Maltese Cross. The eight-pointed cross is a symbol used by the knights to denote the eight obligations or aspirations of the knights.
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 travelers visiting the Holy Land. The monks were known as the Freres Hospitaliers de St. Jean de Jerusalem. 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.
Around 1113, Pope Pascal II acknowledged the Hospitallers as a religious order. They were bound by the Augustinian rules of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience. However, more was expected of the members of the Order. They were required to abide by eight obligations or aspirations. These eight obligations were:
live in truth;
have faith;
repent of sins;
give proof of humility;
love justice;
be merciful;
be sincere and whole-hearted; and
endure persecution.
Noble aspiration indeed especially for individuals who came from very rich and powerful European families. Members of the Order wore a black habit and a camel-hair cloak of the same colour. A white eight-pointed cross covered their breast. The eight-pointed cross was also on their standard against a scarlet background. Eventually, as the Knights became known as the Knights of Malta, their symbol also became associated with Malta and is now known as the Maltese Cross.
The Maltese Cross is a very cherished symbol of the Maltese people and the cross has become part of the Malta's heritage and culture. Many souvenirs are adorned by the Maltese Cross. The cross is also used in all kinds of jewelry including earrings, necklaces, bracelets, broaches, pendants and cuff-links.Dov Gutterman and Lewis A. Nowitz, 15 April 1999


Sanctus Belle said...

I didn't know these things, thank you for this post! Your blog is as beautiful as ever!

babooshka said...

I knew some of this not all. Extremely informative and interesting post.

Outhouse Capital of Canada said...

Thanks for the update on the Maltese Cross, I have read some history of the Crusades and recently, an excellent novel on the same by Jack Whyte