Stuarts Draft Volunteer Fire Co.

The Fireman's Badge

by Aaron Feldman, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services

The badge of a firefighter is the Maltese Cross. The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection, a badge of honor, and its story is hundreds of years old. When a courageous band of crusaders, known as the Knights of Saint John, fought the Saracens for possession of the Holy Land, they were faced with a new weapon not known to European fighters. It was a simple but horrible device of war. The Saracens' weapon was fire.

As the crusaders advanced on the walls of the city, they were bombarded with glass bottles containing naphtha. When they were saturated with the liquid, the Saracens threw flaming torches into the crusaders. hundreds of knights were burned alive while others risked their lives in an effort to save their kinsmen from painful fiery deaths. Thus, these men became recognized by fellow crusaders who awarded each other with a badge of honor similar to the cross firefighters were today.

Since the Knights of Saint John lived for close to four centuries on the island of Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, the cross came to be known as the Maltese Cross. The Maltese Cross is your symbol of protection. It means that the firefighter that wears this cross is willing to lay down his life for you, just as the crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow man so many years ago. The maltese Cross is a firefighters's badge of honor, signifying that he works in courage - a ladder rung away from death.

The Maltese Cross
The four arms of the Cross stand for the four Cardinal Virtues
Prudence, Temperance, Justice and Fortitude.

The eight points and their meanings vary.

The original version will be the Beatitudes as given by the Lord Jesus Christ, in the fifth Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew;

1. Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
2. Blessed are those who mourn; for they shall be comforted.
3. Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be satisfied.
5. Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.
8. Blessed are those who suffer persecution for righteousness' sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Two other lists are variations of the beatitudes;
To live in truth.
To have faith.
To be sincere.
To give proof of humility.
To love justice.
To be merciful.
To endure persecution.
To repent of sin.

A similar list with slightly differing wording;
Spiritual Joy;
to live without malice;
to weep over your sins;
to humble yourself to those who injure you;
to love justice;
to be merciful;
to be sincere and pure of heart;
and to suffer persecution.