Cross of Lorraine

Cross of Lorraine Violets and TeaThe distinctive Cross of Lorraine with its double horizontal bars was originally a heraldic cross. Also known as the Cross of Anjou and the Patriarchal Cross, the symbolic cross has one vertical bar and two parallel cross bars, typically of different lengths with the top bar shorter than the lower one. However, variations including the bars being of equal length are regularly seen.

The Lorraine Cross has been used as a symbol for many different causes over the centuries. For example, it was carried by the Knights Templar on their Crusades; noble, violent, religious wars which occurred between 1096 and 1291 in the Middle East.

The symbol was used in Hungary in the 12th Century by King Bela III. King Bela III was raised in the Byzantine Empire which is where it is thought he adopted the symbol from as it was used as a symbol of the Byzantine Empire during the Middle Ages.

It was later adopted by the Dukes of Lorraine as a personal emblem around 1473. The Duke of Lorraine was a descendent of the Hungarian House of Anjou and ruled over the Duchy of Lorraine in Northeast France. At that point it became known as the Cross of Lorraine.

In the 18th Century, French Jesuit missionaries to the New World countries used the symbol in their work. It resembled local cultural imagery and was favourably accepted.

During World War II, the Cross of Lorraine was the symbol of the French Resistant Movement, known as the Free French Forces, led by Charles de Gaulle. The symbol was added to the tricolour French national flag in the centre of the white vertical stripe and was displayed on warships and aircraft of the Free French Forces. At the end of the war, the medal of the Order of Liberation bore the Cross of Lorraine insignia and de Gaulle erected a 43m (140ft) high Cross of Lorraine in his home town of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises.

Today the Cross of Lorraine can be seen across the world, particularly on French war memorials including one at Greenock, Scotland. It appears on the flag of Slovakia, the coat of arms of Hungary (where it is known as the St Stephen’s Cross) and is a national symbol in Belarus.

It was also adopted and used as the symbol of the French International Union Against Tuberculosis and is used by the American Lung Association; chosen as a symbol for the ‘crusade’ against tuberculosis

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