History Of The Maltese
symbol of a fire department and the badge of a fireman is, the
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
called 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.