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Symbols of Christianity: The Maltese Cross

This cross (pictured here) has a long history. It has been associated with the Order of Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as the "Knights Hospitaller." This order began with the establishment of a hospital in Jerusalem, and has long been associated with caregiving, but also took on military duties, eventually becoming a powerful, military force with vast properties and great wealth. Thus this cross reflects the sometimes contradicatory dimensions of organized Christianity: its militancy and also its compassion. After the fall of Jerusalem in 1187, the Knights of St. John moved to the island of Malta. Today, in the US, the Maltese Cross is also used as a symbol by firefighters.

 

More Symbols of Christianity: 

More Crosses

Index of Christian Symbols

The Human Body as a Symbol of the Sacred
The body as a symbol of the sacred

The Face of Jesus as a Symbol of Faith
The Face of Jesus as a symbolic construct.

Pop Christianty
Pray, How Often? Pop culture and commerical images in service to the Christian faith ... or is it Christianity in service to commercialism? You decide.

The symbolic power of simple shapes
Even shapes are symbolic in Christianity.

The significance of color in Christian symbolism
The meaning of color in Christian symbolism

Food symbols in Christian tradition
Food symbols in Christian tradition

Doves, Eagles, and Sparrows
Doves, Eagles, and Sparrows ... birds as symbols of the divine.

The Fish
The fish has been an important Christian symbol, not only because of the fact that Jesus included several fishermen in his close circle, but also because The initial letters of each word in the Greek phrase "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior" form the word ICHTHUS, which means "fish."

Christian ship symbols
Christian ship symbols

The Ankh Cross
The Ankh Cross is an ancient Egyptian symbol for life, combining the feminine circle and masculine staff to form the whole. It was adapted by early Christians because of its resemblance to the cross.

The Jerusalem Cross

The Papal Cross

The Celtic Cross

Some of the images on this page are the work of Walter E. Gast and are used with permission. For further information about copyright permissions please visit the Christian Symbols Home Page:
http://www.planetgast.net/symbols/

Charles Henderson

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and Executive Director of
  CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).  
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here.
God and Science (Hypertext Edition, 2005).
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion:
Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).

Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.  

For more information about Charles Henderson.