The Law Enforcement and Fire Service Chaplaincy of Napa County

The Napa County Law Enforcement and Fire Service Chaplaincy was founded in 1996 for the purpose of serving the employees of the Napa Police Department and the citizens of Napa. We were later asked to serve the Napa City Fire Department as well as other law enforcement and fire service agencies. Thus our logo has been a work in progress beginning with the law enforcement badge and later adding the infamous “Maltese Cross” signifying fire service personnel we serve. Graphic designer Kurt Gonsalves, son of retired Napa Police Sgt. Terry Gonsalves and brother of firefighter Matt Gonsalves, created our current design artistically combining both law and fire insignias. Graphic designer Dave Hughes, owner of Level Design Studio, made a significant contribution to the drawing.

History of the Law Enforcement Shield

Law enforcement shields have a rich history that go back to the year 1200 to the days of King Arthur, and the Knights of the Round Table. The shield was used as a defensive weapon to protect the knights, and became known as a shield of authority and a symbol of protection. The Knights of the Round Table were the first known police force, and enforced the King’s law and protected the people of the villages or the Shire. Knights had be honest, brave and trustworthy, and of good moral character. Much like law enforcement officers of today who swear to protect and serve, knights from the medieval era were often sworn in and asked to “Protect the weak, defenseless, helpless and fight for the general welfare of all.” They were responsible for enforcing the laws of the land and also performed other duties such as collecting the taxes for the King. The shield was always carried on the knight’s left hand side, and that’s why the law enforcement shield is worn on the left side. When an officer takes his oath, he is then given a badge and it is said that it is worn over the heart for two reasons; first to be worn over the heart to ever remind them of their pledge to protect and second because the left arm was the arm that often held the coat of arms shield of knights… protecting the heart and leaving the dominant hand to fight with a weapon. On the front center of the Knights shield was a crest. Today the State crest is usually found on the front of law enforcement badges. The evolution from a shield to a star that some departments utilize may have originated in Great Britain over 200 year ago when the army wore stars on their helmets.

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History of the Maltese Cross

When a courageous band of crusaders known as the Knights of St. John, fought the Saracens for possession of the holy land, they encountered a new weapon previously unknown to European warriors. It was a simple, but horrible device of war, inflicting excruciating pain and agonizing death upon the brave fighters for the cross. The Saracen’s weapon was, fire.

As the crusaders advanced on the walled city, they were struck by glass bombs containing naphtha. When they became saturated with the highly flammable liquid, the Saracens hurled a flaming torch into their midst. Hundreds of the nights were burned alive; others risked their lives to save their brothers-in-arms from dying painful, fiery deaths.

Thus, these brave warriors became our first firefighters, the first in a long line of courageous men. Their heroic efforts were recognized by fellow crusaders by awarding each hero a badge of honor – a cross similar to the one all firefighter’s wear today. Because the Knights of St. John lived nearly four centuries on Malta, a small island in the Mediterranean Sea, the cross became known as, The Maltese Cross.

The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection, a reminder that the firefighter wearing this cross is willing to lay down their life, just as the crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow man so many centuries ago. The Maltese Cross is a firefighter’s badge of honor, signifying that they lives a life of courage – a ladder rung away from death. of Napa County Corporate Board

Our History