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Christian soldiers carrying flags depart Aigues-Mortes for the Seventh Crusade

The history of Christian flags encompasses the establishment of Christian states, the Crusader era, and the 20th century ecumenical movement.[1]

Contents

National flags of predominantly Christian countriesEdit

 
Flag of the Principality of Iberia and Principality of Tao-Klarjeti (548–888 and 888–1008)
 
The imperial banner of the Palaiologos dynasty, as depicted in the Castilian Conosçimiento de todos los reynos (ca. 1350)[2]

Christian empires, such as the Kingdom of Georgia, which became a Christian state in AD 337, adopted Christian symbolism in its flag.[3] Likewise, the flags of the Byzantine Empire often depicted "a bowl with a cross, symbol[ic] of the Byzantine worldly domination for centuries and of the ecumenical mission to spread Christianity to all the world".[4]

Many officially Christian states and predominantly Christian countries have flags with Christian symbolism. Many flags used by modern nations have their roots in historical Christian flags used in historic Christian empires, such as the Byzantine Empire, or in crusader vexillology.[1] All the flags based on the Dannebrog, including the Flag of Finland, Flag of the Faroe Islands, Flag of Iceland, Flag of Norway and Flag of Sweden contain a Christian cross, representing Christianity.[5][6] The Union Jack of Great Britain, as well as its descendant flags, "makes reference to three Christian patron saints: the patron saint of England, represented by the red cross of Saint George, the patron saint of Ireland, represented by the red saltire of Saint Patrick, and the patron saint of Scotland, represented by the saltire of Saint Andrew."[7] In addition, the Flag of Greece, as well as the Flag of Switzerland, contain a Christian cross to represent the faith.[8] The "cross on the flag of Dominica represents Christianity while the three colours of which the cross consists stand for the Trinity" and the "coat of arms depicted on the Flag of Slovakia shows a double cross".[9] The Flag of the Dominican Republic also depicts a Bible and a cross.[9] The Flag of Georgia, Flag of Tonga, Flag of Moldova and Flag of Serbia all display a cross representing Christianity.[9] The Flag of Portugal also has Christian symbolism, bearing the five wounds of Christ.[10] The Flag of Vatican City features the keys of St. Peter, which were given to him by Jesus Christ, one or (gold) and one argent (silver), which represent heavenly and earthly power respectively. The flag also features a Christian cross, which surmounts the Papal Tiara.[11][12]

Crusader eraEdit

In the Middle Ages, Christian flags bore various types of Christian crosses.[13] Military orders of Christian knights used these crosses in their flags. For example, the Knights Hospitaller (Knights of Malta) used and continue to use a Maltese cross in their flags.[13]

Flags of Christian denominationsEdit

Many Christian denominations have their own denominational flag and display it alongside the ecumenical Christian Flag or independent from it.[14]

Catholic Churches in communion with the Holy See often display the Vatican flag along with their respective national flag, typically on opposite sides of the sanctuary, near the front door, or hoisted on flagstaffs outside. Individual dioceses may also fly flags based on the diocesan coat of arms.

The Eastern Orthodox Church tradition, particularly jurisdictions of the Greek Orthodox Church under the direct authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch, often displays this flag. It is a Byzantine double-headed eagle on a yellow (Or) field.

Parishes in the Episcopal Church frequently fly the Episcopal flag, a Cross of St. George with the upper-left canton containing a Cross of St. Andrew formed by nine cross-crosslets (representing the nine original dioceses) on a blue background.

The Salvation Army has a flag with a blue border (symbolizing the purity of God the Father), a red field (symbolizing the blood of Jesus Christ), and a gold eight-pointed star (symbolizing the fire of the Holy Spirit). The star bears the Salvation army's motto, "Blood and Fire".

The Anglican Communion have a blue flag with a St George's Cross in the centre surrounded with a gold band with the wording, "The Truth shall make you free." in New Testament Greek on it. From the band sprout the points of a compass (symbolising the spread worldwide of Anglicanism). On the "North" of the compass is a mitre (a symbol of apostolic order essential to all Churches and Provinces constituting the Anglican Communion).

The Church of Scotland use a Flag of Scotland depicting the Burning Bush (or Unburnt Bush, in some traditions).

The Church in Wales use a blue Cross of St George defaced with a gold Celtic Cross.

The Church of Ireland use the St Patrick's Saltire but also use the Compass-rose Flag of the Anglican Communion equally.

The Evangelical Church in Germany, a federation of Lutheran, Reformed and United Protestant churches, has a flag with a violet Latin cross.

Additionally, many Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches maintain the use of the Labarum, a historical symbol of Christianity, which is rarely used as a flag at present.

Christian Flag adopted by the Federal Council of ChurchesEdit

 
The Christian Flag

In the beginnings of ecumenical movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,[15] the Christian Flag was first conceived on September 26, 1897, at Brighton Chapel on Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York in the United States. The superintendent of a Sunday school, Charles C. Overton, gave a lecture to the gathered students and asked the students what an ecumenical flag representing all of Christianity would look like.[16] In 1907, Overton and Ralph Diffendorfer, secretary of the Methodist Young People's Missionary Movement, designed and began promoting the flag.[17] The Christian Flag intentionally has no patent, as the designer dedicated the flag to all of Christendom.[18] With regard to the Christian symbolism of the Christian Flag:

The ground is white, representing peace, purity and innocence. In the upper corner is a blue square, the color of the unclouded sky, emblematic of heaven, the home of the Christian; also a symbol of faith and trust. in the center of the blue is the cross, the ensign and chosen symbol of Christianity: the cross is red, typical of Christ's blood.[16]

 
The Christian Flag being displayed on the chancel of a Lutheran sanctuary (see right), Hodgkins, Illinois.

The ecumenical organization, Federal Council of Churches, now succeeded by the National Council of Churches and Christian Churches Together, adopted the flag on 23 January 1942.[19] Since then, the Christian Flag is used by many Christian traditions, especially Protestant ones, including the Anglican,[20] Baptist,[21] Mennonite,[22] Methodist,[23] Moravian,[24] Lutheran,[25] Presbyterian,[25] Quaker,[26] and Reformed, among others.[27]

The famous hymn writer, Fanny J. Crosby, devoted a hymn titled “The Christian Flag”, with music by R. Huntington Woodman, in its honour;[19] like the flag, the hymn is also free use.[28] On the Sunday nearest 26 September 1997, the Christian Flag celebrated its one hundredth anniversary.[29]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Lovette, Leland Pearson (1934). Naval Customs, Traditions and Usage. United States naval institute. p. 152. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  2. ^ "Other Byzantine flags shown in the "Book of All Kingdoms" (14th century)". Flags of the World. Retrieved 7 August 2010.
  3. ^ Demski, Eric (30 June 2014). Living by the Sword: Knighthood for the Modern Man. Trafford Publishing. p. 511. ISBN 9781490736082.
  4. ^ Rocha, Luiz (2009). Mount Athos. p. 19. ISBN 9781440117534.
  5. ^ Temperman, Jeroen (2010). State-Religion Relationships and Human Rights Law: Towards a Right to Religiously Neutral Governance. Brill Academic. p. 88. ISBN 9789004181489. Many predominantly Christian states show a cross, symbolising Christianity, on their national flag. Scandinavian crosses or Nordic crosses on the flags of the Nordic countries–Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden–also represent Christianity.
  6. ^ Evans, Andrew (2008). Iceland. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 27. ISBN 9781841622156. Legend states that a red cloth with the white cross simply fell from the sky in the middle of the 13th-century Battle of Valdemar, after which the Danes were victorious. As a badge of divine right, Denmark flew its cross in the other Scandinavian countries it ruled and as each nation gained independence, they incorporated the Christian symbol.
  7. ^ Temperman, Jeroen (2010). State-Religion Relationships and Human Rights Law: Towards a Right to Religiously Neutral Governance. Brill Academic Publishers. p. 88. ISBN 9789004181489. Many predominantly Christian states show a cross, symbolising Christianity, on their national flag. The Union flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern-Ireland makes reference to three Christian patron saints: the patron saint of England, represented by the red cross of Saint George, the patron saint of Ireland, represented by the red saltire of Saint Patrick, and the patron saint of Scotland, represented by the saltire of Saint Andrew.
  8. ^ Foley, Carol A. (1 January 1996). The Australian Flag. Federation Press. p. 10. ISBN 9781862871885. The Christian cross, for instance, is one of the oldest and most widely used symbols in the world, and many European countries, such as the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Greece and Switzerland, adopted and currently retain the Christian cross on their national flags.
  9. ^ a b c Temperman, Jeroen (2010). State-Religion Relationships and Human Rights Law: Towards a Right to Religiously Neutral Governance. Brill Academic. p. 88. ISBN 9789004181489. The cross on the flag of Dominica represents Christianity while the three colours of which the cross consists stand for the Trinity. The coat of arms depicted on the flag of Slovakia shows a double cross. The flag of the Dominican Republic represents Christianity while the three colours of which the cross consists stand for the Tinity. The coat of arms depicted on the flag of Slovakia shows a double cross. The flag of the Dominican Republic shows the words "God, Fatherland, Liberty", an opened bible and a cross (depicted in the coat of arms which is represented in the centre). The 'five-cross-flag' of George shows four small crosses and a large St. George's Cross, referring to the patron saint of Georgia (the national flag of England shows the St. George's Cross as well). The white cross on the flag of Greece symbolizes Greek Orthodoxy. The flag of Moldova shows its coat of arms in the centre: an eagle with a Christian Orthodox cross in its beak. The coat of arms of Serbia, as depicted on the national flag, also shows an Orthodox cross.
  10. ^ McCandless, Byron; Grosvenor, Gilbert Hovey (1917). Flags of the World. National Geographic Society. p. 403. The Portugal man-of-war (1182) and merchant flags (1183 and 1184) bore the same distinguishing features— five shields with the five circles representing the five wounds of Christ, the castles surrounding the inner shields and the armillary sphere, reminiscent of that nation's maritime prowess in the sixteenth century, 200 years ago, as they do now. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  11. ^ "Holy See Press Office". Vatican.va. Archived from the original on 2015-09-18.
  12. ^ "Holy See Press Office - Papal Tiara". Vatican.va. Archived from the original on 2013-03-07.
  13. ^ a b Islam di Borneo. Universiti Teknologi MARA. 2009. p. 164. ISBN 9789673052943. The medieval Christian flags with different kinds of crosses (Latin, Templars, St. John's or arrow-head cross', St. Andrew's or saltire, 'nailed”, etc.) linked the knights with the church. It was a religious symbol of Christian 'holy wars' or crusades which invigorated and united the enemies of Islam.
  14. ^ Christian Flag Facts, Montney.
  15. ^ Sanneh, Lamin; McClymond, Michael (23 May 2016). The Wiley Blackwell Companion to World Christianity. John Wiley & Sons. p. 218. ISBN 9781405153768.
  16. ^ a b "Christian Flag". The Christian Advocate. New York: T. Carlton & J. Porter. 84. 7 January 1909. Within recent years (1897) a flag has been designed which shall stand as an emblem; (Jesse L. Jones-McKay) which all Christian nations and various denominations may rally in allegiance and devotion. This banner is called the Christian flag. It was originated by Charles C. Overton of Brooklyn, N.Y., whose first thought of it came to him while addressing a Sunday school at a rally day service. The flag is most symbolic. The ground is white, representing peace, purity and innocence. In the upper corner is a blue square, the color of the unclouded sky, emblematic of heave, the home of the Christian; also a symbol of faith and trust. in the center of the blue is the cross, the ensign and chosen symbol of Christianity: the cross is red, typical of Christ's blood. The use of the national flag in Christian churches has become almost universal throughout the world.
  17. ^ Coffman, Elesha. "Do you know the history of the Christian flag?". Christianity Today. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  18. ^ "Christian Flag". The Christian Advocate. New York: T. Carlton & J. Porter. 84. 7 January 1909. Mr. Overton has dedicated his flag to the Christian world, refusing to copyright or patent it. It stands for no creed or denomination, but for Christianity. Every sect of Christ's followers can indorse this flag and it is equally appropriate for all nations. The hymn written by Fanny Crosby is also dedicated to the free use and followers of Christ the world over.
  19. ^ a b "Resolution". Federal Council Bulletin. Religious Publicity Service of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America. 25-27. 1942.
  20. ^ Baklinski, Pete (24 March 2016). "'It's homophobic': Gay activists target flag bearing Christian cross". Life Site News. Retrieved 8 July 2017. St. Stephen the Martyr Anglican Network Church asked the government to raise the Christian flag to mark Easter week, where Christians commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  21. ^ Grose, Howard Benjamin (1917). Missions: American Baptist International Magazine. American Baptist Convention. p. 49. Side by side in many of our churches hangs the Christian Flag with the Stars and Stripes—the Flag of White— which forever has stood for peace, having in the corner on the field of blue, the color of sincerity, faith and trust, the red Cross symbolic of Calvary. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  22. ^ Lind, Hope Kauffman (1 January 1990). Apart & Together: Mennonites in Oregon and Neighboring States, 1876-1976. Herald Press. p. 277. ISBN 9780836131062. Most congregations of Russian Mennonite heritage displayed both the national and the Christian flag in the church sanctuary.
  23. ^ Trewhitt, Katharine L. (1984). History of Broad Street United Methodist Church, Cleveland, Tennessee, 1836-1984: The Story of Methodism in Bradley County and of the Group which Became Broad Street United Methodist Church. The Church. p. 129. Retrieved 8 July 2017. In 1968 the Methodist Men of Broad Street purchased flags to be used in the sanctuary of the Church. This involved one United States flag, one Christian flag, flag poles, stands, one eagle and one cross.
  24. ^ "Moravian Movement". 8 December 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2017. The Moravians created a seal. The seal has a picture of a sheep holding a cross with the Christian flag attached. It says, “Our lamb has conquered. Let us Follow Him.” This symbolizes Jesus conquering sin, and the Moravian’s commitment to follow Him.
  25. ^ a b Logan, Devin (1 May 2015). "Christian Flag: Which Denominations Say Its Pledge". Newsmax. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  26. ^ Roberts, Arthur O. (1978). Tomorrow Is Growing Old: Stories of the Quakers in Alaska. Barclay Press. p. 446. ISBN 9780913342220. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  27. ^ Schuppert, Mildred W. (1982). A Digest and Index of the Minutes of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, 1906-1957. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 105. ISBN 9780802819437.
  28. ^ The Quiver. Cassell Limited. 1900. p. 380. Retrieved 4 May 2014. Miss Fanny J. Crosby, the veteran American hymn writer, has dedicated a hymn, called “The Christian Flag,” to the movement, the first verse of which is :— “ The Christian Flag!
  29. ^ James R. Pollock, Ph.D., D.D. (23 March 1996). Congratulations to The Christian Flag (Fourth ed.). |access-date= requires |url= (help)CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)

External linksEdit