|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2011)|
A cross potent, also known as a crutch cross, is a form of heraldic cross with crossbars or "crutches" at the four ends. In German, it is known as a Krückenkreuz (literally "crutches cross"). Potent is an old word for a crutch, from a late Middle English alteration of Old French potence 'crutch', from Latin potentia 'power' (which in medieval Latin meant 'crutch'). The term potent is also used in heraldic terminology to describe a 'T' shaped alteration of vair, and potenté is a line of partition contorted into a series of 'T' shapes.
The cross potent already appeared in Neolithic petroglyphs, dating back to 2500 BC. The Kingdom of Jerusalem famously bore a gold cross potent between four crosslets upon a silver field.
Upon the passage of the 1924 Schilling Act it was used as a national symbol of the Austrian First Republic, minted on the backside of the Groschen coins. In 1934 it became the emblem of the Austrofascist Federal State of Austria, adopted from the ruling Fatherland's Front, an authoritarian traditionalist political organisation led by Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss.
Today the cross potent is used by many, mostly Roman Catholic, Scouting and Guiding organisations in their logos and insignia. It is currently used in the coats of arms of the Santa Cruz Department in Bolivia, and of the Wingolf Christian student fraternities in Germany, Austria and Estonia.
In Unicode, it is represented as the character "☩", U+2629 CROSS OF JERUSALEM; the name of this Unicode character is a misnomer, since the Jerusalem cross itself is a more complex symbol consisting of a large Greek cross or cross potent surrounded by four smaller Greek crosses.