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La signification de la croix templier
19-02-2024

The meaning of the Templar cross

8 min read

Also known as the cross pattée, the Templar cross is an iconic symbol of European medieval history. Adopted by the order of the Templars (Roman Catholic militia of the 12th century), this cross had the mission of protecting pilgrims who go to the holy land. Over time, this cross evolved into an emblem of faith, loyalty and protection against the enemies of Christianity. What are the origins of the Templars? What is the meaning of the Templar cross? In this content, the Precious Cross team gives you an idea of ​​everything you can know about the Templar Cross.

What are the origins of the Templars?

If you want to know better the Templar cross , you must necessarily have an idea of ​​its origins. Indeed, among the different origins of the Templars, we can note:

The crusaders

The Crusades were a series of military expeditions that were launched by European Christians in the Middle Ages. The latter aim to reconquer the holy land from the hands of the Muslims. They began in 1096 and extended until the 13th century . The First Crusade was launched in 1096 after Pope Urban II's call for holy war. The latter aimed to recover Jerusalem and the holy places of Christianity . It was during this first crusade that there was the participation of many knights.

Subsequent crusades were launched to maintain Christian control of the holy land . However, they were less successful than the first. Although the Crusaders had established themselves with several states in the region, the territories were under constant threat from local Muslims. The aftermath of the Crusades had a significant impact on the history of Europe and the Middle East. They have influenced politics, religion and culture for centuries.

The Mark of Cain

At first, the immaculate costume of the Templars lacked the iconic cross pattée . The cross was added in 1147 by Pope Eugene III . The Temple Cross , commonly known as the Templar Cross, remains the distinctive symbol of the Temple Knights to the present day. This cross is said to have its origins in the Mark of Cain , which is over 5,000 years old. It is considered a divine protection granted to Cain.

The fame of the Templars and their symbol has withstood the tests of time. Today, the cross pattée of the Templars remains present on various media such as clothing, paintings, and contemporary jewelry . If you are passionate about symbolic jewelry , our site offers a collection of Christian jewelry inspired by the Templar cross. These unique pieces are ready to be discovered and adopted by lovers of symbols steeped in history.

The Companions of Christ Militia

The Companions of Christ militia emerged as a military religious order in Italy in the 12th century . It is seen as a precursor of renowned military orders. In this militia which emerged following the first crusade, we find:

  • The Templar Knights ;
  • Hospitallers;
  • The Teutonics .

As we noted above, the crusade inspired many Europeans to go to the holy land to fight the Muslims . Militia members took an oath to live in poverty and devote their lives to defending the Christian faith.

The militia 's popularity grew rapidly in Italy, where it benefited from numerous donations of land and goods. Engaged in various military campaigns in Europe and the Middle East , the members saw their influence decline over time. In the 14th century , the order was dissolved and its members were integrated into other military orders such as the Hospitallers and the Teutonics. Furthermore, although less known than the Templars , the militia of the poor companions of Christ played a significant role in the history of military orders in the Middle Ages . She testified to her commitment to the Christian faith and her participation in major defense campaigns.

Knights of the Templars

The Templars emerged in the 12th century in the context of the Crusades. They emerged to protect Jerusalem and its surrounding areas which are often exposed to attacks by Muslim groups . Founded in 1119 by a group of French knights led by Hugues de Payns, the order was later renamed: the Knights of the Temple or the Templars. Their mission was to:

  • Guarantee the safety of Christian pilgrims in the holy land;
  • Defend the interests of the Catholic Church ;
  • Participate in various military campaigns .

Their fame and power grew through donations of land, money, and other goods from European nobles and kings. These resources solidified their ability to participate in various military campaigns in Europe and the Middle East.

Over time, the Templars acquired considerable wealth. They became a powerful military order . However, tensions arose between the order and certain European leaders such as the French king Philippe Le Bel. These tensions came to a head with the simultaneous arrest of the Templars in 1307 . The Templar order was later disbanded and its members faced various charges including heresy and sodomy. For example, the grand master of the order (Jacques de Molay) was burned at the stake in 1314 . The property of the Templars was confiscated and some of the members were transferred to other orders such as the Hospitallers and others to royal powers.

Furthermore, although their dissolution put an end to the order of the Templars , their symbolism has persisted in history. Controversial accusations of heresy and mystical practices , particularly related to Baphomet, gave rise to legends and a mystical aura around the Templars. Their story continues to fascinate and spark interest in the fields of medieval history , occultism and symbolism. This has helped shape the collective perception of military orders over the centuries.

What is the meaning of the red cross of the Templars?

The history of Christianity is closely linked to the use of the cross (a symbolism that has manifested itself in various ways over time). Indeed, long before the time of the Crusades , many people said that crosses appeared miraculously on the clothes of people deemed worthy. This is also the reason why during the Crusades , armies seeking visual distinction adopted crosses as a sign of identification .

According to the writings of Abbot Guibert in his History of Jerusalem, Pope Urban II instituted this sign as an indicator of military distinction and a symbol intended to instill courage in Christian knights committed to the divine cause. This decree ordered that the figure of the cross be cut out of any material and then sewn onto the tunics and coats of the expedition members. This measure was intended to identify the crusaders and strengthen their resolve.

In 1128, Pope Honorius II granted knights of the military order the privilege of using white cloaks without the addition of a cross in order to symbolize innocence . It was not until the pontificate of Eugene III (1145-1153) that the obligation to display red crosses was established to symbolize martyrdom. Over time, this red cross acquires a deeper meaning. It has become inseparable from the very identity of the Templar order.

Proud of their organization and their distinctive uniform, the Templars attributed sacred value to their banner decorated with the red cross. A guard of ten soldiers was always posted near their Templar standard . Unfurled before battles, this banner inspired fear in their enemies since it symbolized the unwavering determination of the Templars . They withdrew from the battlefield only when their cross emblem still floated above them. In summary, the history of the Templars and their military exploits had a profound impact on this medieval period. The red cross has evolved into a powerful symbol. It reflects the identity and mission of the Templars.

What does the Templar cross mean in Christianity?

From a Christian perspective, the cross represents a significant symbol of the suffering and death of Jesus . Indeed, the Templars appropriated this symbol in their quest for meaning and identification. By exploring the sign of the cross outside of the Christian context, you discover historical facts that testify to its use in certain ancient alphabets , including the Hebrew alphabet. In this alphabet, the cross was associated with the letter “tav” which is the most complex and the last in the alphabet. The latter symbolizes completion. This letter could mean the end of all things combined.

When we dive deeper into the symbolic meaning of the letter tav , it is made up of two distinct parts: daleth and nun which represent Din and Dan, or judgment. Thus, we can conclude that the sign of the cross evokes an inevitable judgment after death. This interpretation suggests that the cross symbolizes the conclusion of a cycle associated with divine judgment.

However, the Templars attributed to the cross a particular meaning linked to their mission. The Templar order has a history peppered with rituals and mystical symbols. From then on, they can interpret the cross as a constant reminder of their commitment to the Christian faith and the protection of the holy places. Furthermore, the evolution of the cross in the iconography of the Templars may have played a central role in their identity. In addition to its historical link with Christianity, the red cross of the Templars has become the representative visual symbol of the order itself.

It has transcended its original meaning to become an emblem of the order, bearer of values, devotion and mysticism. So, the Templar cross helped to forge a unique identity within the order.

What to know about the cross and the crown among the Templars?

The distinctive emblem of the order of the Templars consists of the cross and the crown . The latter remain a constant association within this institution. Indeed, beyond the borders of Freemasonry, the cross and the crown form a symbolic connection. The interpretation of this symbol is often taken as an allusion to the heavenly reward reserved for those who live their lives in accordance with Christian precepts. The crown, for its part, embodies the concept that the end is not conclusive. It means that we always remain ready and equipped with the necessary strength to overcome obstacles.

The symbol of the cross combined with the crown is regularly accompanied by the well-known Templar motto: “ In Hoc Signo Vinces ”. This Latin phrase, translated into French means: “By this sign, you will conquer”. It reflects the Templars' desire for triumph and conquest, closely aligned with their commitment to the Catholic Church . Moreover, the church has always supported the order of the temple in order to:

  • Promote rapid and substantial growth of the order throughout Europe;
  • Helping kings in financial difficulties;
  • Ensure the vanguard and rearguard of the army.

Furthermore, the long-standing cross and crown motif is also used by the First Church of Christ (Scientist) with legal protection as a trademark. However, be aware that the combination of the cross and the crown is not exclusive to Christian Science . It has been used by various Christian churches, both Protestant and Catholic. For example, the cross and crown are reported to have appeared on the cover of the rule book of the Concord Congregational Church in New Hampshire .

The Crown and Cross also constitute a distinctive symbol within the Masonic order of the York Rite which serves as the logo of the Knights Templar. In general, the cross and the crown remain popular symbols within Christianity. They emphasize that the Knights Templar are deeply rooted in Christian principles and symbolism. The combination of these two symbols creates a unique meaning that represents the heavenly rewards that await faithful believers after the trials and tribulations of earthly life. Some experts view the crown and cross as the life, ministry, glory and message of Jesus Christ.

For a more in-depth analysis on the issue, we invite you to read this article


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