The Knights Templar had many symbols that represented and inspired them throughout their history and they have been preserved through the passage of time. What are some of these symbols and what was their meaning?
A unique image associated with the Knights Templar is that of two knights upon a horse. This image became the Grand Masters seal between 1167 and 1298. This represented the co-founders of the Knights Templar Hugues de Payens and Godfrey de Saint-Omer. Between them they were so poor that they only had one horse between them. The seal recognises the humble, but noble origins of the Order.
The infamous unique red cross that was emblazoned upon the mantle, represented the Knights’ connection to Christ and the Catholic Church. This symbol was approved in 1147 by Pope Eugenius III. The red cross represented martyrdom and served as a reminder of the sacrifice of Christ. The reason a red cross is often used is to represent the blood spilled to atone for the sins of humankind. Earlier forms of red cross are associated with the military saint, Saint George, often depicted as a Crusader According to legend, when St George was beheaded his followers took his head and smeared his blood upon a white sheet, in the form of a cross.
Another cross, the Beauceant was the war flag of the Knights Templar and differed in that it consisted of a black section above a white one. The black section depicted the evil and sins of the world and the white symbolized the purity of the Templar Order and the Christ. So important was the Beauceant that whilst it was still flying, knights did not retreat or stop fighting.
Other symbols included the Agnus Dei, a symbol of a lamb with a halo, holding a cross or a flag with its cocked foreleg. The lamb is symbolic of the martyred Christ and refers to the words of John the Baptist, who quoted Isaiah when he baptized Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." The Calvary Cross is a Latin cross standing on a base of three steps. Calvary is Latin for Golgotha, the hill where Christ was crucified. The three steps symbolize both the hill and the Christian virtues of Faith, Hope and Love.
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