Templar Cross Meaning : The Cross Pattée
of reading - words
The Knights Templar constituted a first-rate organization during the Middle Ages. Well-known in all Christian countries, their primary task was to protect European travelers and pilgrims who came to visit the sites of the Holy Land.
In addition to this function, the Knights Templar also carried out many military operations. Their great power and influence, the military prowess they demonstrated, and their exemplary attitude during the Crusades gradually made this organization an ideal subject of legends. Among all these, the symbol of the Templar cross occupies a special place.
Here is the Contents Table :
- History and Creation of the Order
- Description of the Templar Cross
- How did the Cross Pattée appear?
- Meaning of the Templar Cross
- The true origin of the Red Cross
History and Creation of the Order
In 1099, when the Christian armies took Jerusalem back from the Muslim occupation, large numbers of pilgrims began to arrive in the Holy Land. The territories they had to cross were still controlled by Muslims. As a result, many of these Christians died trying to complete their pilgrimage. Later, in 1118, that a French knight named Hugues de Payens decided to create a military order to help his fellow believers.
He decided to name it "Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon". Later on, this order was better known as the Order of the Knights Templar. Hugues de Payens and Baldwin II, the sovereign of Jerusalem, had in fact decided to organize the headquarters on the Temple Mount, in the district of the city. This could be an explanation for their no, although there are other more... mysterious explanations.
For several centuries, the Knights Templar were known as an elite group of warriors, always ready to fight to defend the land where Christ was born, the lives of their brothers, the Christian cross, and especially their symbol: the cross of the Knights Templar.
Description of the Templar Cross
The symbol of the Templar cross is actually very close visually to a whole bunch of Catholic crosses. It is based on a model of the Greek cross (i.e. a cross with all the branches of the same size).
With thinner arms than the original one, special "legs" in the shape of a "T" and distinctive red and white colors, the symbol of the Templars has nevertheless managed to create its own character. Despite this, novices often confuse it with the Maltese Cross, the emblem of another order of chivalry. Let's remember this if need be: these two crosses are very different, and the interpretations we can make of them sometimes go in two radically opposite directions.
Moreover, even though the Order of Malta is relatively old, its cross was not fixed until the 16th century. It goes without saying that the symbol of the Knights Templar therefore predates it.
But in fact, how did the Cross Pattée Appear?
Anyone who knows the history of Christianity knows that the symbol of the cross has been used in different ways. There have been stories of crosses miraculously appearing on the clothing of particularly worthy individuals, appearances of this symbol in churches, and a whole host of other miracles.
It was Pope Urban II, however, who officially instituted the sign both as a military distinction and as a reminder to Christian knights that they were fighting for a cause beyond them: the glory of God. During the Crusades, the pope ordered that the sign of the Christian cross be cut from any piece of cloth to be sewn into the tunics and coats of those who went out to fight. However, all of these crosses were quite disparate: no indication of its shape or color was given.
It was only during the reign of Pope Honorius II that the Knights Templar were granted the right to wear white coats, a symbol of innocence and Christian purity ... but without any symbol of cross on it ("absque aliqua cruce", said Jacques de Vitry). Eugene III, authorized the order of the Templars to add a red cross to their clothing. This color was supposed to recall the martyrdom that Christ endured to save us from our sins.
Meaning of the Templar Cross
The symbol of the Knights Templar is undoubtedly the one most associated with power, especially military power. Associated with strict and powerful principles, this Catholic cross is still carried with pride today by thousands of people for the meaning it carries.
Here are a few examples of the meaning that the Templar cross has had throughout history.
Its use on the Battlefield
The symbol that interests us here corresponds to the cross that the knights of the order of the Templars proudly wore on their tunics and armor. The significance of the cross of the Knights Templar when it accompanied them in battle was that of martyrdom: this Christian symbol evoked the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
By keeping this image in mind, the Knights Templar were no longer afraid of death because they knew that they were guaranteed a place in paradise. From then on, the only certain outcome of the battle was glory. In addition, there was a strict military rule that prevented the Knights Templar from abandoning their comrades. In the middle of each battalion, there was a flag with the symbol of the Knights Templar.
No matter what happened, no matter what the debacle or losses, a knight could not leave the battlefield while this flag was still flying in the wind. Thus, the cross of the Knights Templar became a powerful symbol linked to courage and honor.
The Meaning of the Templar Cross in Christianity
From a purely Christian point of view, the cross is above all the primordial symbol of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Jesus sacrificed himself for our sins on the cross. This is one of the most important scenes in the Christian religion. Any child who does his catechism learn it, and thus understands all the love that Christ has for us.
Yes, we are talking about the greatest symbol of love and compassion of all time. This is the message conveyed by this kind of Templar Ring, a nod to the history of the Crusades. Since the Knights Templar placed themselves as defenders of Christianity and protectors of the Holy Land, the order was quickly approved by the Catholic Church. As a result, the number of Knights Templar grew considerably and rapidly, as did their power and name throughout the cities of Europe.
It is therefore only natural that a particular Christian cross should be attributed to them.
The Association of the Symbol of the Templars with the Crown
If you are interested in the order of the Knights Templar, you may have noticed that their cross is very often combined with a crown. The meaning of the cross of the Templars therefore finds an extension here: the crown would be a kind of heavenly reward that awaits those who have lived well after death.
We can also understand here that no end is final, that we can still succeed and gain our honor at the end of our life. Often this Templar symbol of the cross and crown is accompanied by the phrase "In Hoc Signo Vinces". This translates into : "By this sign you shall conquer".
The True Origin of the Red Cross
The symbol of the cross in a circle is very old and has played an important role in the history of all mankind. It can be found in many cultures and many places around the world.
From the "pink" cross of the Rosicrucians to the "sacred circle" of the Amerindians, through certain tribes of West Africa and, of course, through the symbol of the Templars that we are talking about, tracing a precise origin is complicated to say the least. Be that as it may, the cross has become a ancient symbol, and therefore universal.
While, as we have seen, we are free to give it several interesting interpretations, the origin of the Knights Templar cross and the historical context in which it was born are also very exciting. We will therefore offer here some plausible explanations as to the origin of the Templar symbol.
The Templar Cross Symbol: Roots in the Hebrew Alphabet?
If you take the cross outside the context of Christianity and go back 2000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, you can find many facts that prove that it was used in certain ancient alphabets, including Hebrew. In this alphabet, the cross refers to the letter "tav", the most complex and last letter of the alphabet. Thus, tav symbolizes the end, the completion.
It could for example mean the end of waiting for the Messiah with the arrival of Christ, the end of a cycle, or even the end of time... In reality, all interpretations are allowed here. In reality, all interpretations are allowed here. In any case, it generally symbolizes completion, the end, or death. This is a very particular meaning that the symbol of the Templars could carry...
If, however, we delve deeper into the symbolic meaning of tav, we can conclude that it is composed of two parts, of two distinct letters: daleth and nuns, which means "finality" and "judgment" respectively. Thus, the Christian cross would be associated with an inevitable judgment that would take place after death. This is an interesting hypothesis about the origin of the Templar cross...
Templar Cross and Mark of Cain
For many, the symbol of the Templar cross would derive directly from another religious symbol: the mark of Cain. The latter would have been used more than 5,000 years ago by the disciples of the one God during their flight from Egypt and their crossing of the desert.
If a connection has been made, it is probably because, like the cross of the Templars, the mark of Cain is represented by a red cross placed in the middle of a circle. We can find traces of this symbol in the Bible, more precisely in the chapter of Genesis.
However, the combination of an allegorical writing style and murky historical facts creates a veritable jumble of meaning in which it is sometimes difficult to discern the true from the false. Thus, it is perhaps only through oral transmission from person to person that the true meaning of the symbol of the Knights Templar can be revealed to us.
Larry R. Herron
Very informative article. I am a Masonic Knight Templar and am therefore very interested in the Order.