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Flags of saints

Last modified: 2006-03-11 by martin karner
Keywords: saint | santiago | saint portugal | christian | anglican | catholic |
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Saints' flags

As far as I know, most older saints were granted fantasy coats of arms in the Middle Ages (even God and the Devil got them!), so at least banners of arms could have been created from them. I'm not learned on the subject but I know at least that main personas of the Christian "pantheon" have regularly used colors; blue and silver for the Virgin Mary (or is it gold?) and red and green for Saint John -- these last ones being the remote cause for the current Portuguese flag colors.

These medieval coats of arms also influenced at least some later heraldic devices of Military Orders in saint's names. Today I'm sending putative banners of arms of some of them.
António Martins, 19 February 1998

In the early, less regulated days of heraldry, the designers rather took the bit between their teeth and galloped off in all directions at once. Important people in their own time all had coats of arms, therefore it was only common sense that the even more important people in the past also had them. St Wilfred's arms are seen in York Minster and St Wilfred's Church, three gold suns on blue. St Wilfred lived five hundred years before heraldry was invented! The early heralds even assigned arms to Christ and to Adam, although I doubt if even they went as far as to assign them to God and Satan. 
Michael Faul, 5 October 2001

In Christian symbolism several saints are associated with specific crosses, either of a specific colour and/or of a specific shape.

Saints associated with a cross of a specific shape:

Saints represented by crosses of fixed colours and shape: Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 17 June 2000, 14 January 2001, 17 June 2001
Santiago Dotor, 15 January 2001
Marc Pasquin, 14 January 2001
António Martins-Tuvalkin, 27 June 2001
Ivan Sache, 2 April 2003

The use of specific colours for specific saints originated from the British Isles to mirror the case of Saint George (as used by England). As a result, it's only in traditions originating there that "A Cross of Saint Andrew" is enough to indicate both shape and colour (and colour of the background). Elsewhere this would have to be "A white Cross of Saint Andrew (on a blue field)".
Though the Cross of Saint George has always been a Red Cross throughout on White, in the British Isles, under the influence of the Union Jack, it has become limited to symmetrical crosses, and this same limit applies for the other similarly shaped crosses. The result of this development is that any symmetrical cross is now sometimes defined as "A Saint George cross of such on such colours".
All those coloured crosses of the British Isles are crosses of Martyrs, with one exception. This is caused by the fact that the original Cross of Saint Patrick was a cross with a specific shape instead. The modern Cross of Saint Patrick was created to fit in with the Cross of Saint George and the Cross of Saint Andrew to allow adding it to the Union Jack. Patrick was not a Martyr.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 17 June 2001

Saint Michael

[Portuguese templars] by Michael Wilson

Is this flag truly fixed? Someone on the Francovex list recently talked about the French-used white cross on blue as being the St-Michel cross so I'm wondering if either one is mistaken or the both combinations can be accepted (such as the Scottish and Russian saltire both being referred to as St-Andrew).
Marc Pasquin
, 11 July 2004