So, we had a little guessing game over on our Facebook page last week. The question arose (thanks to a recent custom order for embroidery on an handmade stole): What do the 8 points on the Maltese Cross symbolize?
To be quite honest, I didn't even know that this particular question existed until I began working on the project. "A Maltese Cross?" I asked? "Must have something to do with heraldry..." I mused, quite shamefully disinterested.
But the little promptings of Catholic Culture Conscience (didn't know there was such a thing? Well, I think we just found it!) prompted my curiosity into action. I noticed a comment in the email body from my customer about the 8 Beatitudes. "A type of cross isn't created without some reason or symbolism," I thought. The results of my curiosity to learn more about the Maltese Cross did not disappoint.
And so - to satisfy your own Catholic Culture Conscience (we'll call it the 3 C's around here) - Behold! our findings...
The Maltese Cross is a symbol of the Knights of Malta, based after a cross design from the First Crusade. In the 16th century, the 8 points of this cross represented by the Knights the "eight points of courage" namely:
Glory and Honor
Contempt of death
Helpfulness toward the poor and sick
Respect for the Church
The Order of St. John taught that these 8 points also represented the 8 Beatitudes of Jesus Christ, given to us in the Sermon on the Mount. Today, the Maltese Cross can be found in symbolism of aviation, medicine, and on flags, crests, documents, and clubs around the world.
The most interesting of these, of course, is it's application as embroidery designs in a family business workshop in the USA. :) For pictures of the stole embroidery, visit us next week!