Flag of the Grand Commandery of the Castello
It seems that since the beginning of this 21st century, interest in flags and banners – albeit in a very modern key – is enjoying a revival. As a result, many congregations in various countries with a Christian tradition have decided to add banners in their place of worship.
A closer look at how people in the Old and New Testament used banners can help us understand how we can make them a meaningful part of our gatherings and worshiping today.
While flags are not a required element in a space of Christian worship, whether it’s a large cathedral or a simple chapel, it has been a long-standing Christian tradition to display national flags and military banners in places of worship.
Both Valletta’s St John Co-Cathedral and St Paul Anglican Pro-Cathedral, to mention two examples, display such military banners. In the case of the former, images of banners are also included in the sculptures that adorn the building which dates back to the 16th Century.
Particular ceremonies, having both specific and noteworthy meanings, are held when a banner is usually laid in a Christian church. This was the case in 2005, when one of the banners of the Grand Commandery of the Castello was laid at St Paul’s Cathedral on Saturday 5th March of that year.
Flags identify us
Flags and banners can be powerful symbols as they carry enormous emotional meaning, especially but not only, for veterans and for families that have sacrificed their loved ones in wars and armed conflicts under that symbol, or for members of long-established organisations. The point being made here is that such banners, therefore, are not to be perceived as mere decorations to brighten up a dull or plain space.
A flag can also have significance as a symbol of what the nation or, in our case, the Order or even a particular jurisdiction stands for. A declaration of allegiance - serves unity for a purpose
In itself, a banner is an identification, a declaration of allegiance, and serves unity for a purpose – all inherent values that respective Members, Friends and visitors need to be made aware of this, so that such values can be transmitted and also appreciated.
A declaration of support and fraternity
In this way, the banners displayed at our Chapel in Castello Lanzun also mean a declaration of support by the respective jurisdiction and, on the part of the GCC, an affirmation of welcome and a tangible sign of fraternity towards the represented jurisdictions.
In turn, the purpose and meaning of banners serve to add devotion to worship, inspiring worshipers to reflect on who they are, first and foremost as Children of God and, in our case, as Members of a Christian order of chivalry.
Raising the flag
Both in the Scriptures and in European literature, especially in historical records, there are many instances describing when banners were raised to gather or assemble the people. A raised banner served to announce that something significant was about to happen. At Castello Lanzun, we respect this tradition as we hoist our flag each time we organise an event there.
The following pictures are of the Crucifer Sword which, together with the above flags, are used to open the Grand Commandery’s official events.
The Cross of the Order of St Lazarus is an eight pointed cross, commonly called the Maltese cross, green of colour. The four arms of the cross represent the Christian virtues: prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude. The eight points represent the virtues upheld by the Order: spiritual tranquility, life without malice, contrition, patience in adversity, love of justice, mercy, sincerity, and endurance under persecution.
Flags suspended from the Chapel ceiling
These originate from the very early years of the Commandery of Lochore, now the Grand Commandery of the Castello, Note that each Jurisdiction has the green cross of the Order with a symbol in the upper quartile which identifies the particular Jurisdiction.