What Is A Florian Cross and Its’ Symbolism

If you’ve ever looked closely at a local fire department’s symbolism and design, you’ve likely spotted the Florian Cross yourself. This is an ancient symbol, and it’s got deep roots in Christianity. Today, the Florian Cross or St. Florian Cross is an emblem that symbolizes the firefighting departments across the globe. 

Like other symbols you still see today, the Florian or Firefighter Cross has a lot of history behind it. Some of this history is debated, and that’s why it’s important to understand the significance behind this visual for yourself. A symbol of the firefighting brotherhood and loyalty, this guide dives deep into what a Florian Cross is as well as its unique symbolism. 

History of the Florian Cross

First, what’s the history of the Florian Cross? Also known as the St. Florian Cross, this image is named after St. Florian, a patron saint in Christianity. Born in around 250 AD, he was a member of the Roman army. Though he was supposed to persecute all Christians in his area, he didn’t carry out these orders. Because of his failure to follow commands, he was sentenced to death by fire. 

While on the funeral pyre, Florian challenged the Roman soldiers lighting his death by saying, “If you do, I will climb to heaven on the flames.” Because of this, they decided to drown him. Later, his body was buried by Christians at the Augustian monastery. Since then, St. Florian has been invoked against fire. He became the patron saint of all those who fights fires. 

What Is A Florian Cross and Its' Symbolism
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The symbol of the St. Florian Cross is an eight-pointed star with rounded edges. Firefighters today still wear this emblem as a form of protection and camaraderie. St. Florian as a saint, is seen as the protector from both fire and floods, thanks to his unpleasant death. 

What Is the Meaning of the St. Florian Cross?

Now that you know the history behind the Florian Cross, what does this symbol mean? It’s possible to read a lot of different meanings behind this cross. There is no single answer that’s superior, and it’s up to those that wear the emblem to decide their own favorite meaning. Here are some of the values it represents:

  • Protection: Above all, this is a symbol of protection. Not only is the saint a protector, but those who wear this emblem are prepared to save others even if it means laying down their own lives. 
  • Courage: St. Florian represents the courage to do the right thing, even if it’s intimidating. 
  • Loyalty: This is a cross that represents loyalty to oneself, one’s community, and the brotherhood of other firefighters. 
  • Honesty: St. Florian was clear, upfront, and honest. This is an important value. 
  • Sympathy: The patron saint himself was sympathetic to others, especially those in need. 
  • Dexterity: Lastly, the St. Florian cross symbolizes the physical ability to do things well. 

It takes a lot of skills to be a firefighter. Not only is this a tiresome job, but you have to face scary situations without much certainty. Just as St. Florian refused to harm others even if it meant his own death, firefighters continue to follow in his brave footsteps. It’s this rich symbolism behind the Florian Cross that makes it such a powerful symbol. 

Florian Cross Vs. Maltese Cross: Is There a Difference?

With that in mind, what is Maltese Cross Forian, and how does it differ? Both of these crosses have similar designs. The Maltese Cross also has eight points, though these are sharp. Like four arrowheads converging at the center, this is not curved like the Florian Cross. Though they both have eight points, the Florian Cross looks more like a flower while the Maltese Cross appears like a star. Additionally, the Florian Cross is older than the Maltese Cross. 

What Is A Florian Cross and Its' Symbolism
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During the Christian Crusades, the Knights Hospitaller used the Maltese Cross as a special emblem of protection. Today, both are symbols of firefighting. While St. Florian is depicted with a bucket in his hand putting out a burning fire, the Maltese cross has similar significance. For example, the Knights who fought against the Saracens in the Crusades often battled firebombs. They risked their lives bravely for others, connecting them with today’s firemen. 

Where Will You See the Florian Cross Today?

Can you still see the Florian Cross today? This is a common gift, not only for firefighters but for anyone who feels compelled to overcome adversity. Now that you’re familiar with what this emblem looks like, odds are you’ll begin to notice it in the world around you. Here are some common examples:

  • Coins: Florian Cross coins are far from uncommon, and they’re usually found amongst firefighters. They’re given as gifts, symbols of protection, and a way to say “thank you for your service.” 
  • Keychain: As a keychain design, the Florian Cross is a beautiful testament to one’s service and commitment to others. Why not hold your favorite symbols close each day?
  • Pin: Many people collect pins, both new and old. The Florian Cross pin is a way to honor anyone who’s served others, particularly public service workers. 
  • Necklace: While Florian Cross jewelry isn’t super common, you will see necklaces with this type of pendant. These are a masculine way to honor your fellow brothers and sisters in service, as well as keep yourself safe while invoking the patron saint. 
  • Gear: Finally, firefighter gear like technical gloves, flashlights, and more often has the firefighter emblem on it. All of these tools have to be approved by the NFPA to withstand a certain level of heat. 

What Is A Florian Cross and Its' Symbolism
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Ultimately, there are no rules about who can or cannot wear a St. Florian Cross. Many firefighters choose to wear this cross, but it’s not exclusive to firefighters. In general, firefighters and those who choose to wear this cross should always represent the values of the symbol while wearing it. This includes courteous, kind behavior. Have you worn the St. Florian Cross? If so, what does it mean to you?

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