The symbol most associated with St. Florian is the Maltese Cross,
commonly known as St. Florian's Cross. It is used the world over
as an insignia for fire departments and firefighters, since St.
Florian is their patron saint. The cross is made up of four v-shaped
arms, giving it eight points on the outside edge.
Crosses of this design have been used since around the First
Crusade in 1096. The design is said to symbolize the eight points
of courage: loyalty, piety, bravery, frankness, glory and honor,
no fear of death, compassion toward the sick and poor, and respect
for the church. It has been adopted by the Sovereign Military
Order of Malta (Knights Hospitaller) as their symbol, and so became
called the Maltese Cross.
The cross also forms the basis of the emblem for many hospital
services, military units, and even sports teams. St. Florian was
a commander in the Roman army, and is naturally associated with
all things military.
St. Florian, while a Roman army officer, was also tasked with
organizing the firefighting brigades and keeping them ready for
action. He is the patron saint of firefighters and chimney sweeps,
and his cross, in a modified form, is used as the symbol for almost
all American firefighting companies and many others around the
St. Florian himself is often depicted in paintings carrying a
flag with a cross, although not always a Maltese cross, as this
evolution of the cross came after he had died and been martyred.
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