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Baptizing the Tricolore

THE RECENT RULING of the self-styled “European Court of Human Rights” that the presence of crucifixes in Italian schools is a violation of the rights of a non-practicing Lutheran from Finland has sparked a surge of outrage against European institutions in Italy, and indeed elsewhere. While (as Gerald Warner has reported), the Italian Constitutional Court has shown the proverbial two fingers to the ECHR judgement in a ruling of its own, one junior cabinet minister has a suggestion of his own. Roberto Castelli, Italy’s deputy minister for infrastructure and transportation, suggests the country should reassert its Christian identity by adding a cross or crucifix to the Italian flag.

“I believe,” Mr. Castelli said, “that Europe has the right to recognize its true identity that we are starting to lose completely.” Even the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Freemason and ex-Socialist Franco Frattini, seemed amenable to the idea. “Nine European countries already have the cross on their flag,” Frattini pointed out. “It is an extremely common proposition.”

The obvious temptation when altering the Italian flag is to add something to the middle. The old Italian flag, during the days of the monarchy (above), featured the arms of the Savoy family there, and indeed the dynasty’s arms include a white cross. Two of the realms conquered by Sardinia during the unification of Italy, the (Hapsburg) Grand Duchy of Tuscany and (Bourbon) Kingdom of Two Sicilies, employed green-white-red tricolours with their respective arms in the center.

Were a cross or other Christian emblem to be placed in the center, it could be neither wholly green nor red, for that would alter the balance of the flag and grant one colour dominance over the other. One could add a crucifix proper, in realistic colours with the corpus of Our Lord featured, but this would overcomplicated the flag unnecessarily, as would the emblem of the Sacred Heart. Other ideas — quartering green and red separated by a white cross, or introducing a Scandinavian cross design in the Italian colours — are changes too drastic.

My proposal, seen above, takes its inspiration from the motto of the Borromeo clan, Simplicitas, [Daniel Matsui corrects my error; the Borromeo motto is humilitas] and follows the principle that the simplest solution is the best. A plain white cross sits atop the vertical stripe closest to the fly, which (vexillologically speaking) is the real place of primacy of honour for an emblem to be placed. It has the virtue of maintaining the flag’s easy-to-draw qualities that a full-scale crucifix or rendering of the Sacred Heart would eliminate. It strikes the bargain between the most minimal change possible for the maximum effect.

This post was published on Monday, December 21st, 2009 3:44 pm. It has been categorised under Church Design Flags and been tagged under , , , .
Comments
  1. 21 December 2009
    5:25 pm

    Introducing a Scandinavian cross design in the German colours was actually the plan for the German flag had operation Valkyrie succeeded (the design was by Josef Wimmer), and it was again proposed at the Parliamentary Congress after war (the Christian Democrats favoured it), but unfortunately it came to nothing.

  2. OakRidge
    21 December 2009
    7:37 pm

    I do like you idea but I find the Greek cross a tad too clean. Perhaps instead of the Greek cross a Latin cross?

  3. Robert Badger
    22 December 2009
    6:32 am

    I like the idea too. Perhaps going back to the Savoy arms minus the crown might work.

  4. Davidoff
    22 December 2009
    7:35 am

    Unless I’m much mistaken, a not dissimilar solution is adopted for the flag of the Swiss Canton of Neuchatel, except that the cross is in the upper portion of the red stripe of the tricolor rather than the green.

  5. 22 December 2009
    10:24 am

    I thought the Borromean motto was humilitas.

  6. Andrew Cusack
    22 December 2009
    10:35 am

    You know, I think you’re right. Scratch my error.

  7. 24 December 2009
    11:18 am

    I’ve been toying with the idea of a patriotic flag for American Catholics.

    It would take as its basis the “Betsy Ross” flag, but with 12 gold stars replacing the 13 white ones in the original, reflecting the image from Revelation chapter 12. At the center of the stars would be the Sacred Heart of the Vendee, giving it a more obvious Catholic character, but still easy-to-draw.

  8. 24 December 2009
    4:36 pm

    Mark–I’m surprised someone hasn’t made one already! Not a bad design. I seem to remember one that just had the Sacred Heart superimposed on the 13 stripes but that just looks heraldically awful.

    The idea of placing a crucifix on the central stripe reminds me of the old Papal war ensign–which I think was a crucifix on a red field between SS. Peter and Paul. Maybe that wasn’t the war ensign (I seem to remember a white one with just the two apostles on it) but there was a papal naval flag like that.

  9. Adrian Moore
    27 December 2009
    10:53 am

    The Scandinavian crosses, in the Italian colours, make me feel quite angry for some reason; whereas the quartered flag reminds me of several Scottish Italian restaurants’ menus.

    I have always been a fan of the simplicity of the Cross of Lorraine on a flag. A black or red cross (Lorraine or otherwise) on the central white vertical stripe could look quite handsome. The red Lorraine cross did not unbalance the Free French flag, did it?

    Alternatively, the Mediterranean tradition of a complex central ensign, such as in Spain and Portugal, could be continued. Often the absence of the Iberian ensigns draws more attention towards them.

  10. 3 January 2010
    4:04 pm

    My picks would be adding the old Savoy arms, which might incidentally bring attention to the monarchist cause, or to add the Sacred Heart in much the way French Catholic patriots sometimes do. However, I can easily envision Cusack’s modest white cross winning a referendum or national campaign.

  11. Nelson Hanford
    3 January 2010
    8:59 pm

    I like the “alternating green and red separated by white cross”, or whatever the heraldically correct term is which reminds me of Milan for some reason.
    However I see your solution as being the most plausible.

  12. Joseph S. I. Illes
    6 January 2010
    2:03 am

    I have to agree with the Italians supporting this idea. For too long have Europeans, and indeed Western society as a whole, been in this negative apologetic funk which has been purely detrimental not only to Europe on the national scale, but internationally as well. Europe is losing its identity as a bastion of good Christian morals (I draw your attention to HIM Queen Victoria) to be replaced with the ever-more slippery slope of political correctness gone-haywire.

    I agree with Adrian Moore. The Med. is quite used to overly complicated flags, such as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_the_Two_Sicilies) or even the old Papal flags as you said, Mr. Cusack. Incidentally, you might have seen the Papal Ensign here: (http://flagspot.net/flags/va_hist.html).

    There should be no great problem with adopting a cross, even if it were just for heritage’ sake. Almost every nation in the Middle East sports a crescent moon and star, or variation thereof, and some even have “Allah is Great” or “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His prophet” written in the vernacular such as the Saudi and Iraqi flags.

  13. 27 April 2010
    10:49 am

    At a recent pilgrimage in Ann Arbor, we made use of what I call an “American Flag of the Social Kingship of Christ,” wherein the Sacred Heart of the Vendee is superimposed over the field of red and white stripes, pace heraldry / Matthew of the Holy Whapping.

    Picture: heart + cross + American flag

    Visit here and scroll down to see some pictures of the flag in action.

  14. steven
    3 February 2011
    10:15 pm

    Been done before.

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