Teutonic or Maltese orders: cross pattée and knighthood

The cross pattée is a perfectly symmetrical Christian cross model, both horizontally and vertically. Its arms also have curved shapes that break with the coldness and roughness of other types of crosses.

All this clearly gives it a harmonious general appearance... but what about its meaning?

Well you should know that it was historically linked to a whole bunch of orders of chivalry, each more glorious than the other... and it is precisely this question that we will try to answer today!

Contents :

Description of crosses pattées in general

The Teutonic Cross: service to others and self-sacrifice

The Maltese Cross: bravery and chivalry

Steel cross pattée placed on the wall of a house in a Christian village.

Description of crosses pattées in general

A cross pattée (sometimes also called a "formed cross") is a type of cross which has the particularity of having narrow arms in its center which widen as we move away from them.

The word "patté" is a French adjective literally meaning "footed cross". In fact, we can clearly draw a linguistic parallel between an animal's paw and the cross pattée.

Our cross in fact has four flared branches, each resembling a foot (even if some associate them more with chalices or candelabras).

For the record, in German, the cross pattée is called the “Tatzenkreuz”. Tatze is a word from the Germanic language which translates to foot.

Very often, the symbol of the cross pattée is also associated with the crusades, in particular those undertaken by the Teutonic knights or those of the order of Saint Jeun, two military orders whose role was to defend the Christians in the Holy Land and, more later, to repel the pagans.

If you are interested in the history of Christianity and the battles it had to wage, you will find some interesting information on the Crusades here.

Anyway, we will talk about all of this together in the following points!

Large iron cross of the Teutonic order, steel color on a black background.

The Teutonic Cross: service to others and self-sacrifice

Of all the crosses used to represent particular orders within the Church, none has undoubtedly had more weight and importance than the Teutonic cross, worn by the knights of the same name.

Proud defenders of Christianity, this organization was born in the misery and despair that could reign among the combatants during the famous siege of Saint-Jean-d'Acre (a particularly long military siege which took place during the crusades of the end of the 12th century).

The sufferings of the crusaders and Christian soldiers attracted the compassion of many German merchants who then went there to erect hospitals and render service as best they could to their fellow believers.

Pope Celestine III, particularly touched by this pious act, decided to let them found an order: henceforth, they would be called the house of the hospital of the Germans of Sainte-Marie-de-Jérusalem.

Most orders of chivalry in the Middle Ages had the right to wear a particular cross in order to differentiate themselves. This is also true for the Teutonic knights who proudly displayed the symbol of the Teutonic cross.

If you feel close to the greatness and charity that they demonstrate, wearing this Teutonic Cross badge is definitely a good way to show it to the rest of the world!

In short, in medieval manuscripts, our cross is often described as "imposing and sand-black in color mounted on a second equally powerful one, all placed on a silver escutcheon over which a two-headed eagle watches"

This description may seem rather complicated but it actually describes quite well what the Teutonic Cross is in its most complete conception.

Later, at the beginning of the 13th century, the flag with the Teutonic cross flew over the lands of Prussia. There were held the Baltic Crusades, intended to destroy once and for all the last remnants of Slavic paganism in Europe.

For several decades, thousands of Christian knights perished under the blows of the pagans. Always ready to defend the Church and to throw themselves into sometimes losing battles, they made the Teutonic cross a symbol of courage and self-sacrifice recognized throughout the continent.

Cross serving as a symbol of the Order of the Knights of Saint John, or Order of Malta.

The Maltese Cross: bravery and chivalry

The Maltese Cross is a Christian symbol resembling a star which would have been formed by four "Vs", their points being joined.

To clearly see what we are talking about, here is another badge that we offer and which bears this particular cross.

According to historians, this symbol of chivalry has its roots in the emblem of the merchant republic of Amalfi, an Italian state from the Middle Ages.

In short, the Maltese cross was chosen to form the standard of the Knights Hospitaller of the Order of Saint John during the 12th century.

This religious military order was, rightly, very close to the Church and the teachings of the Gospels. Given the services they rendered to the faithful, it is not surprising that they were awarded a special Christian cross.

The meaning of the Maltese Cross is therefore necessarily linked to the values ​​defended by the order of the Hospitallers: those of Christian chivalry.

Thus, the eight points formed by its arms are associated with the eight obligations of the Knights of the Order of Malta :

  • Live in the truth
  • Have faith
  • Repent of your sins
  • Show humility
  • Love justice
  • Be merciful
  • Be sincere and without reservations
  • Know how to endure persecution

Thanks to the meaning conveyed by the Maltese Cross, the courageous knights dared to enter into battles facing more numerous and better equipped enemies. No matter what happened, they always remained faithful to the cross and to Christ.

Wearing the Maltese Cross is therefore, even today, a great honor. A symbol of courage and bravery, it will for a long time still be linked to the unfailing faith and valor shown by the faithful who went to defend their Christian brothers during the crusades.

We can therefore wear this cross to transmit to those around us the message that these knights carried. We can also do it to give ourselves courage, or quite simply as a nod to the historical past of Christian Europe.

Lucky charms featured in this article

Iron Cross Badge

Iron Cross Badge

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Maltese Cross Badge

Maltese Cross Badge

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author picture(Cyril Gendarme)

Discover the author: Cyril Gendarme

Cyril Gendarme is a writer whose website "The Lucky Door" ("La Porte Du Bonheur" in French, his native language) has become a reference in the field of esotericism. Born in Belgium, Cyril has been attracted to the mysteries of the world since he was a child. When his interest in occultism was awakened, a particular subject caught his attention: lucky charms.

After years of study and in-depth research on esoteric traditions from around the world, Cyril decided to share his knowledge with the public through the internet. In 2019, he launched "The Lucky Door," a website dedicated to exploring lucky charms, magical symbols, and esoteric arts.

The Lucky Door is much more than just a showcase for those curious about magic, divination, or tradition. It is the result of Cyril's passion for researching and understanding the mysteries of the universe. Every piece of information available on the site testifies to his dedication to sharing his knowledge of the most hidden symbols and their unique powers.

In addition to his online work, Cyril regularly organizes workshops and conferences in different countries. His presence on social media is also highly appreciated, where he offers personalized advice and happily answers questions from his community.