When King Richard the Lionheart conquered Jerusalem, he encountered the flag of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre: a red cross on a white field bearing the Greek letters of the Brotherhood’s name. The simple red cross could be found in images of Christ risen from the dead in icons of the Resurrection. King Richard brought a version of the flag back to England – the red cross on white, taken from the same Resurrection icons – and attributed it to England’s new warrior patron saint, Saint George.
With the establishment of England’s colony in Canada centuries later, the English cross of Saint George provided the colours for several military flags, which later evolved into the design of the Canadian red ensign. The Canadian flag itself contains Christian symbolism. The two red bars on either side of the flag are a visual depiction of Canada’s national motto, Ad mari usquead mare (“From sea to sea”). This motto is taken from Psalm 71 (72), which reads, “He [the Lord] shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.”