Red Cross is a term commonly used to refer to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a non-governmental, non-political, non-religious worldwide humanitarian organization that works for the protection of human life & health, alleviation of human suffering, assistance of people in crisis and safeguarding of human dignity. It has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and works through a network of employees, volunteers, and donors.
The movement includes a number of distinct and legally independent humanitarian institutions that are bound by a shared ideology and common objectives. These include the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that was founded in 1863 to provide protection and care to the victims of international wars and within country armed conflicts; the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that are present in almost all countries; and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) that coordinates the activities of these societies and also organizes and leads relief missions in response to major emergencies anywhere in the world. Though the Red Cross movement was started for providing medical aid to those injured on the battlefield, it has widened its scope over the years. Today, it also extends emergency medical services to strengthen the national healthcare systems and also extends many other humanitarian services.
The term ‘Red Cross’ also refers to the emblem of the movement. This symbol, consisting of a red-colored cross placed on a white background, can easily be called the world’s most recognized image. It represents the medical services, people, humanitarian activities and programs of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The highly respected Red Cross emblem is internationally recognized as a symbol of protection, humanitarian aid, and neutrality.
The Papal Cross is representative of the ultimate authority of the Roman Catholic Church. This emblem of ecclesiastical heraldry is specifically assigned to the Pope, who heads the Church. It is made of a staff that has three horizontal bars at the top, placed in an order of diminishing length. As it is the official symbol of the papacy, the use of Papal Cross for any purpose by any other church and organization has been strictly prohibited.
The Papal Cross is distinct from the Archiepiscopal Cross, which is a two-barred cross and is used to signify an archbishop. It is also not to be confused with the Cross of Lorraine that comprises of two horizontal bars, evenly spaced on a vertical bar. This is a heraldic cross that was granted to the original Knights Templar and carried by them to the Crusades. Relative to the Catholic Church, this equal-armed Cross Lorraine represents the office of the Cardinal.
The three bars of the Papal Cross is generally considered to be representative of the Trinity – the Father God, the son Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They are also believed to symbolize the realms that come under the Pope’s authority, namely the Church, the heaven and the world.
Some physical crosses have also come to be called ‘papal crosses’ on account of being associated with a pope. For instance, a 35-meter high white cross made of steel girders erected in Phoenix Park in Dublin, Ireland is popularly referred to as the Papal Cross. This is so because it was installed there on the occasion of Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1979.
The Jerusalem Cross is a major symbol used in Christianity, representing Christ’s command to spread the Gospel around the world beginning in Jerusalem. The symbol is basically composed of 5 crosses; 1 large central cross with 4 smaller crosses in each quadrant. It is also often referred to as the Crusader’s Cross and less frequently as the Cantonese Cross.
The Crusaders used the Jerusalem Cross as an emblem; bearing the symbol on the papal banner given to them by Pope Urban II. It was adopted by Godfrey de Bouillon as his personal coat of arms. He was one of the leaders of the Crusades and became the first ruler of Jerusalem (he refused the title of “king”) after successfully driving out the Moslems during the First Crusade in 1099.
Popular interpretations of the Jerusalem Cross: ~The central cross stands for Christ and the four smaller crosses stand for the 4 evangelists John, Luke, Mark, and Matthew. ~The large cross represents Christ as the strength at the center of Christianity and the smaller crosses as the 4 corners of the earth to which the faith spread. ~The crosses represent the wounds that Christ suffered when He was crucified; the central cross for the wound on His side, and the 4 smaller crosses for the wounds on His hands and feet. ~The 5 crosses represent the five nations that figured in The Crusades: Great Britain, France, Spain, Germany, and Italy.