The Maltese Cross: What is it?

The Maltese Cross is often seen in jewelry. But what does this ubiquitous eight-pointed cross represent? There are several explanations.

The best explanation is one that harkens back to the Crusades; possessing eight points, the Maltese Cross is suppose to represent the eight chivalric virtues of:

The chivalric virtues are often written about. However, there is no authoritative list of what these qualities are. Frequently, they are referred to as the seven knightly virtues; however, sometimes, they are written about as four, or six, or in the case of the Maltese Cross, eight.

1. Loyalty, 2. Piety, 3. Frankness, 4. Braveness, 5. Glory & Honor, 6. Contempt of Death, 7. Helpfulness Towards the Poor & Sick, 8. Respect for the Church

ALTERNATIVELY:  1. Observation, 2. Tact, 3. Resource, 4. Dexterity, 5. Sympathy, 6. Perseverance, 7. Discrimination, 8. Explicitness


The second explanation is that it represents the eight beatitudes of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are the…”  1. the poor in spirit, 2. they who mourn, 3. the meek, 4. they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5. the merciful, 6. the pure in heart, 7. the peace makers, 8. they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness

Lastly, it has also been interpreted to symbolize the eight langues of the Order of Malta:

1. Provence, 2. Auvergne, 3. Germany, 4. France, 5. Aragon, 6. Italy, 7. England, 8. Castilia


Since there’s no definitive answer to what the Maltese Cross symbolizes, I think it would be fun to insert your own meaning.

By wearing a Maltese Cross, you can remind yourself of a multitude of wonderful things … how about eight things to be thankful for today, or eight places to visit before you turn 50, or even something as simple as the eight things to accomplish this week?

(images from here)


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