Franschhoek The Huguenots Museum Information

Huguenot Cross

Huguenot Cross


Huguenot Cross Description



As time passed, different stories arose about the origins of the Huguenot Cross. However, all of them agree that it was worn for the first time in the Cevennes. The cross evolved through tragic circumstances.

During the prosecution of the Huguenots, their religious gatherings had to be kept secret. They were usually held in caves and other secret places, and conducted by one of the members. With weddings and christenings, they had to wait until the preacher was in the neighbourhood.

One day, somewhere in the Cevennes, a group of Huguenots had gathered. The preacher was busy marrying four young couples when the dreaded French Dragoons appeared on the scene. Many Huguenots succeeded in escaping but two of the bridal couples were caught. At the nearest town, they were given a choice: become Roman Catholic or die at the stake. They refused to recant their Huguenot beliefs.

Four big piles of wood were prepared on the market square, and stacked in such a way that those condemned could watch each other burn to death. The four condemned Huguenots sang while they were brought closer and bound, each to a stake. With the flames their psalm rose to heaven until their voices faded into silence.

From the crowd a woman's voice called: "I see the flames rise to heaven. They unite in a mighty dome of fire which joins the four burning stakes. I see a cross of fire, and in the centre it shoots its rays to the north, the south, the east and the west - the Morning Star, the sign of our master, Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord! He is with us to the end!"

A metal worker from Nīmes saw and heard everything she said. He made a kind of medallion approximately the size of a five cent piece. The nucleus resembled the Maltese Cross (the symbol of the Crusaders). The four arms of the cross were linked with a smaller "circle", which refers to the flames that united them. The space between the arms was made into the shape of a heart. The four hearts remind us of the love of the two young couples who, true to their faith, were burnt at the stake on their wedding-day.

This medallion was afterwards adopted by the Huguenots as their token.

Later on the cross was not only made from iron and lead, but also from silver and even gold. The dove was added as a symbol of the Holy Ghost. After the dreadful persecutions following on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, the Huguenots replaced the dove with a Pearl, symbolising a tear.


The Huguenot Cross is a symbol of religious loyalty - a religion so strong that it did not even fear the stake. Descendants of the Huguenots are not allowed to forget their origins nor to consider their religion as being something superficial.


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