The Greek Cross has all fours members the same shape and form (crux quadrata) and usually suggests the Christian Church rather than a symbol of Christ's suffering. It appears as a 'plus sign' in liturgical documents to indicate where the priest should make the Sign of the Cross. (For example "The peace + of the Lord be + always with + you.")
This cross can be seen on grave stones in the Roman catacombs. In 958 A.D., a red cross with a white background became the flag of Genoa. In the 12th century, crusaders from England adopted the design for their own use, and took it back to England as the Cross of St. George (the current English flag ).
The Maltese cross is similar but with flayed ends. It is a very popular basis in heraldic designs, when it is known as the Pattee Cross.
The Greek cross is the basis for the Swastika. Favoured by Adolf Hitler in the Second World War, the swastika was a symbol of the extreme-right. Its history, however, goes much further back.
Another and equally famous variation of the Greek cross is the emblem of the Red Cross. More than one hundred years ago, the International Red Cross was founded to aid those wounded in battle. The objective of the Red Cross emblem was to have a unified distinctive sign that would be respected internationally.
Admirable idea, but the Red Cross has made some people see red and get very cross about its use of the cross. (more...)
Then there's the Blue Cross used by a UK animal charity, the Green Cross for First Aid and Safety, and the Orange Cross used by loyalists in Northern Ireland. (See also Coloured Crosses)
In its most common colour, the Black Cross has been the favourite of several political organisations.
The Greek Cross does not appear on the emblem of the Greek Orthodox Church of Greece but does appear on the national flag of Greece. It also appears on many other national and regional flags, listed below.
(The Church of Greece emblem features the Byzantine double-headed eagle and has a tiny cross atop a crown.)
Barceloneta, Puerto Rico
Church in Wales, UK
Democratic Progressive Party, China
Mantova (Mantua), Italy
Santa Cruz de Mompox, Colombia
Utrecht province, Netherlands
Zhytomyr Oblast, Ukraine