The Maltese Cross is known around the world as a symbol of the fire service. Where did it come from and how did it become the symbol of the fire service?
As the badge of a fire fighter, the Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection and a badge of honor.
The story dates back hundreds of years when a band of courageous crusaders known as the Knights of St. John fought the Saracens for possession of the holy land. They encountered a new weapon unknown to European warriors that caused excruciating pain and agonizing death. The weapon was fire.
As the crusaders advanced on the walls of the city, they were struck by glass bombs containing naphtha, saturating them with highly flammable liquid. The Saracens then hurled a flaming torch into their midst. Hundreds of knights were burned alive; others risked their lives to save their brothers in arms from fiery death.
These men became our first fire fighters. Their heroic efforts were recognized by fellow crusaders who awarded each hero a badge of honor – a cross similar the one worn today. The Knights of St. John lived for four centuries on an island named Malta in the Mediterranean Sea, and so the cross became known as the Maltese Cross.
Recognized as a badge of honor, it signifies the courage of a fire fighter, a ladder rung away from death.
A fire fighter who wears this cross is willing to sacrifice his life for others just as the crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow man hundreds of years ago.
Caroline County Professional Firefighters Association
Page Last Updated: Sep 17, 2018 (12:28:03)