Symbolism & Heraldry in the Grand Priory in Canada
Symbolism is the use of abstractions to represent and idea or concept. Heraldry is a form of symbolism, which concerns itself with the study, design, regulation and use of armorial bearings, commonly referred to as "coats of arms". A coat of arms is a form of personal or corporate identification of which the central element is a shield. Its roots began in the early 12th century, largely because of the development at that time of helmets that covered and concealed the face of the wearer. There is a strong connection between heraldry and knights of the period, which were and effective manner of identifying themselves by painting devices (charges or objects) on their shields, to wearing the same symbols on their surcoats worn over armour (hence the "coat" in "coat of arms") to the caparisons worn by their warhorses. Interestingly, knightly heraldry evolved as knights, particular for tournaments, would afix devices to the tops of their helms, some knights known for fantastical devices on their helms. These devices on top of the helm became known as "crests". The combination of the shield and crest, along with other devices such as mantling, mottos, etc. came to be knwon as the "heraldic achivement" or simply as the "coat of arms".
Armorial Bearings (Coat of Arms) of the Grand Priory in Canada
The arms of the Grand Priory in Canada had as its beginnings in the Lord Lyon Court, Edinburgh whereby, with the approval of their Chief Herald, on October 27, 1967, the arms of the then, Grand Bailiwick of Canada was matriculated by the Court of the Lord Lyon. Armorial bearings are defined or described by the language of "blazonry", a peculiar language with roots in the Norman language, in particular, with respect to tinctures (colours). The Arms (the shield) is defined as Argent a cross Vert in the first quarter a maple leaf Gules, which means, on a white shield, a green cross on which in the top left corner of the cross, a red maple leaf is positioned.
Included in the matriculation was the Motto of the Order as ATAVIS ET ARMIS, which means "By Ancestors and Arms". The blazon would specify the placement of the motto on the banner in the arms, periodically, the banner is above the arms, but most commonly, it is positioned below the arms as depicted. In the later years, after the elevation to the Grand Priory in Canada, under the priory's own volition, it registered the armorial bearings with the Canadian Heraldic Authority, Ottawa. This office not only registered the arms and motto, an official Letters Patent was also created for the Order. A digital copy of this Letters Pattent can be viewed by visiting the The Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada . This registration of the arms in Canada was performed on May 9, 1991 and can be found in the Canadian Heraldic Authority's armoury, Vol. II, p. 93.
The entire armorial bearings (shield, motto and banner) are super-imposed over a green Maltese cross. Often, the blazonry typically doesn't mention such additments in its official description.
Badge of the Grand Priory in Canada
A heraldic badge is an emblem, or personal device worn as a badge (sometimes in the form of a patch or embroidered on the left breast of a garment) indicates allegiance to or the property of an individual, family or corporation. In the medieval period, individuals who are in the "employ" of a knight, or noble would wear that individual's badge indicating their allegiance or commitment to that individual. One can think of a badge as a "distillation" of the armorial bearings it symbolizes. The use of badges in the medieval period grew rapidly, as the rules and rigidity of heraldic regulation was less with respect to badges. It can also be viewed as the first "logo" type of emblem, in particular, with some cases with respect to representing a corporation in today's world.
The official blazon which describes this device is as follows: A Maltese cross Vert fimbriated Or surmounted by a maple leaf also Or. In other words, the green Maltese cross has a golden border/edge and has a golden maple leaf super-imposed on the cross. Although the blazon doesn't specify the exact placement of the maple leaf, in the language of blazonry and the laws of arms, it is assumed that the maple leaf would be positioned centrally. If the original design calls for the placement of the maple leaf in the upper portion of the Maltese cross, the blazon might have stated: A Maltese cross Vert fimbrieated Or and in chief, a maple leaf also Or.
The grant of the badge by the Canadian Heraldic Authority is dated as April 15, 1998. The Letters Patent granting the badge can be viewed by clicking: Letters Patent.
Flag of the Grand Priory in Canada
During the earliest history of Saint Lazarus, for almost two centuries the knights of Saint Lazarus wore a simple green fabric cross on their tunics to differentiate themselves from the knights of the Temple (red cross) and the knights of Saint John (white cross) and later, the German knights (black cross). Evidence of the use of the heraldic green cross by members of the Order of Saint Lazarus appears to be the imposition in 1314 by Sigfried of Flatte, Commander of Seedorf, whereby the knights of the Order were prescribed to wear a square green cross on their habit, mantle and harness. The cross depicted was stylistically interchangeably a Latin or Greek one with variations in the design with cross branches being squarely cut off or slightly 4 potent or paté. The use of the green cross by the Order was by the 15th century extended to all members of the Order including tenants, domestics and commandery servants. 
The green Latin cross remains alive with its application to the Order's flag. The flag of the Grand Priory in Canada's flag is differenced with the addition of a red maple leaf in the upper left quadrant of the flag. The blazon for the flag reads: A banner of the Arms of The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem in Canada.
- The Court of the Lord Lyon is the heraldic authority for Scotland and deals with all matters relating to Scottish Heraldry and Coats of Arms and maintains the Scottish Public Registers of Arms and Genealogies. The Lord Lyon King of Arms is also responsible for State Ceremonial in Scotland. The other offical heraldic authorities include The Office of the Chief Herald, Ireland and the oldest heraldic authority, The College of Arms, London and finally, a relatively new heraldic authority, the Canadian Heraldic Authority, Ottawa.
- The Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada contains the heraldic emblems that have been granted, registered, approved or confirmed since the establishment of the Canadian Heraldic Authority on June 4, 1988.
- An informative and excellent read on the history and development of the heraldic nature of the Order can be found in the white paper composed by Chev. Charles Savona-Ventura and Michael W. Ross. The document was first published in the Double Tressure: The Journal of the Heraldry Society of Scotland, No. 36 in the summer of 2013 entitled: The Heraldry and Development of the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem
- Charles Savona-Ventura & Michael W. Ross. The Heraldry and Development of the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem. Double Tressure: The Journal of the Heraldry Society of Scotland, No. 36. Summer 2013. pp3,4. David Marcombe. Leper Knights: The Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem in England, c.1150-1544. The Boydell Press. 2003. p28