Maltese choose cross for euro coin

Maltese voters have rejected via an online poll a design for the country's euro coins showing the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist and instead chose three designs including the Maltese Cross.

The Times of Malta reports that the baptism design won most votes in an SMS text poll conducted in January but a rerun was held after many people complained that the Maltese eight-pointed cross should have been among the choices.

The baptism was selected after an e-mail campaign launched by a priest, but there have been protests by top Maltese church dignitaries, including a bishop, that Christ should not feature on coins.

In a second online poll at the weekend, the Maltese cross design won most votes, followed by designs showing the Maltese coat of arms and a pre-historic temple. All three will be selected. The Baptism of Christ came fourth and was therefore turned down.

According to Newswire, most of those who opted for the Maltese cross did so because of the historical implications - even if in reality the image will be minted on a coin no bigger than a few centimetres in circumference.

According to one voter unhappy about the outcome of the poll, the Maltese cross design looked like the Malta Football Association logo. Quite a few argued that the Maltese cross was not Maltese at all, but a symbol belonging to the Order of the Knights of St John.

A Maltese Catholic lay minister in Australia said he would like to see coins depicting Christ "to be in the hands of people of other religions".

Minting will start in the second half of next year if the island is given the all clear by the EU to adopt the European currency. The tiny Mediterranean island hopes to join the eurozone on 1 January 2008.

Maltese cross most popular by far (The Times of Malta 9/6/06)
Malta Rejects Baptism Euro Coin (Newswire 11/6/06)

PM cautiously optimistic on euro entry (The Times of Malta 17/6/06)
Central Bank Governor warns against euro delay (The Times of Malta 16/6/06)
Public to choose final three euro images (Di-ve.com 29/5/06)

19 Jun 2006