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Maltese cross
The insignia of a Serving Brother of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem

The Maltese cross (also Amalfi cross) is identified as the symbol of an order of Christian warriors known as the Knights Hospitaller or Knights of Malta and through them came to be identified with the Mediterraneanmarker island of Maltamarker and is one of the National symbols of Malta. The 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.

The cross is eight-pointed and has the form of four "V"-shaped arms joined together at their tips, so that each arm has two points. Its design is based on crosses used since the First Crusade. It was also the symbol of Amalfimarker, a small Italian republic of the 11th century.


The eight points are said to symbolize the eight points of courage:
  • Loyalty
  • Piety
  • Generosity
  • Bravery
  • Glory and honour
  • Contempt of death
  • Helpfulness towards the poor and the sick
  • Respect for the church
In 47 years in St. John Ambulance and also the Most Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem, the teaching has been that the eight points of the cross represented the eight Beatitudes.

The Maltese cross remains the symbol of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and other Orders of St John, and St. John Ambulance. In recent centuries it has come to be adopted as the insignia of numerous orders of chivalry, and appears on the coat-of-arms of the Mecklenburg-Strelitz districtmarker. In Australia the Maltese Cross is part of the state emblem of Queenslandmarker.

Modern Use


The Maltese cross is used to identify the Final Approach Fix in an instrument approach.


The flag, badge, and coat of arms of the state of Queenslandmarker feature a Maltese Cross. The Maltese 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 Ambulance Northern Territory, St John Ambulance Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory Ambulance Service.


In Francemarker, the Maltese Cross is the symbol of french club of football AJ Auxerre, the cross is on the shirt.


In Indiamarker, the Maltese Cross is the symbol used by the Garhwal Rifles.


The Maltese cross is a national symbol of Maltamarker and is displayed as part of the Maltese civil ensign. The Maltese euro coins of one and two euro denomination carry the Maltese cross.


In Spain, the Maltese Cross is the symbol used by the Military Health. The cross also forms the basic form for some Spanish orders as the Order of Charles III or the Order of Isabella the Catholic.


In Swedenmarker a Maltese Cross forms the basic form for all the royal orders of merit, The Orders of the Seraphim, Sword, North Star and Vasa.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdommarker, the Maltese Cross is the symbol used by Rifle Regiments, and has been incorporated into the badges of virtually all rifle units, including the amalgam, The Royal Green Jackets. The first postmark employed for the cancellation of the then new postage stamps in the 1840s was the shape of a Maltese cross and named accordingly. The Maltese cross also forms the basis for the design of the Order of the Bath. The Maltese cross is also the symbol of Neath Rugby Football Club in Neath, Wales.

United States

In the United Statesmarker what are called Maltese Crosses are often used by fire departments. For example New York City Fire Department and Philadelphia Fire Department both incorporate the "Maltese cross" in their insignias. This variant is known as the Saint Florian Cross.


The 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 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.

Similar crosses

Other crosses with spreading limbs are often called "Maltese", especially the cross pattée. The Nestorian cross also is very similar to both of these. The cross of Saint Florian, used by firefighters is often confused with the Maltese cross; although it may have eight or more points, it also has large curved arcs between the points.

Maltese 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 Phi Fraternity since 1833. 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. 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.

Finally, the Maltese cross should not be mistaken for the George Cross, awarded to Malta by George VI of the United Kingdom in 1942, which is depicted on the flag of Malta.

Computer Representation

The Maltese Cross dingbat ✠ (also known as Cross pattée) is located at Unicode position U+2720.

See also


  1. National Euro Changeover Committee - Euro Maltese Coins

External links

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