The Maltese Cross

The insignia of the fire service is the Cross Pattee-Nowy, otherwise known as the Maltese Cross. This cross represents the fire service ideals of saving lives and extinguishing fires.

The fire service borrows the cross from the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, a charitable, non-military organization that existed during the 11th and 12th centuries. A white or silver cross on a dark background was adopted by these Knights of Hospitallers, as they were also known, because of their charity toward the sick and poor in setting up hospices and hospitals. Later they assisted the Knights of the crusades through their goodwill and also through military assistance in an effort to win back the Holy Land. The Knights of St. John eventually moved to the Island of Malta, The island for which the Maltese Cross was named.

The need for an identifiable emblem for the Knights had become crucial. Because of the extensive armor which covered their bodies and faces, the Knights were unable to distinguish friend from foe in battle. They chose the Cross of Calvary as their symbol since they fought their battles for a holy cause. The cross was later callled the "Maltese Cross" and represented the principles of charity, loyalty, chivalry, gallantry, generosities to friend and foe, protection of the weak, and dexterity in service.

During the Crusades, many knights became firefighters out of necessity. Their enemies had resorted to throwing glass bombs containing naphtha and sailing their vessels of war containing naptha, rosin, sulfur, and flaming oil into the vessels of the knights. Many knights were called to do heroic deeds by rescuing fellow knights , and extinguishing fires. 

Last Updated: 05/25/05 13:33



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