|Not long after the revocation of the Edict
of Nantes, the Huguenot Cross came into general use amongst
Huguenots as confirmation of the wearer's faith.
The cross was designed in the form of a Maltese
four isosceles triangles meeting at the centre. Each triangle has, at
the periphery, two rounded points at the corners. These points are
regarded as signifying the eight Beatitudes of
Matthew 5: 3-10. Suspended from the lower triangle by a ring of gold is
a pendant dove with spreaded wings in downward flight, signifying the Holy
Spirit. In times of persecution a pearl, symbolizing a
teardrop, replaced the dove.
The four arms of the Maltese
sometimes regarded as the heraldic form of the four petals of the Lily
yellow irises, signifying the Mother Country of France) which grows in
the south of France. The lily is also the symbol of purity. The arms
symbolize the four Gospels.
The arms are joined together by four Fleur-de-Lis (left),
each with 3 petals; the total of twelve petals of the Fleur-de-Lis signify
the twelve apostles. Between each Fleur-de-Lis and the
arms of the Maltese
which it is joined, an open space in the form of a heart, the symbol of
loyalty, suggests the seal of the French Reformer, John Calvin.
Other predecessors of the Huguenot Cross include
the so-called Languedoc
Cross, and the order decoration of the Order
of the Holy Spirit which
Henry III established on December 31st, 1578 (above, right). It was the
most exclusive order in France until 1789. Because the members, royalty
included, were awarded with the Cross of the Holy Spirit, which hung
from a blue ribbon, they were called "Cordon Bleus". The sumptuous
banquets accompanying their award ceremonies became legendary, and the
"Cordon Bleu" award for excellence in cuisine took it name from the
The badge of the Russian
division of the Order of the
Knights of St John
of Jerusalem, Hospitalers.
Huguenot cross was designed and
first manufactured by a certainMystre of Nîmes in 1688.
It has as its predecessor the badge of the Hospitaler Knights
of St John of
Jerusalem (see left for the badge of the Russian division of the
order), also known as the Knights
a religious and Crusader order founded in Jerusalem in the 7th century
AD. In 1308 they occupied the island of Rhodes after the collapse of
the Crusader states, and in 1530 formed the order of the Knights
of Malta after
Rhodes was surrendered to the Ottoman Turks. They lived for 4 centuries
on the island of Malta, hence the name Maltese
the central part. (The Maltese Cross is generally associated with fire
and is the symbol of protection of fire fighters in many countries).
The order decoration of the
Order of the Holy Spirit
(Chevaliers du Saint-Esprit)
which Henry III established
romantic (albeit unconfirmed) story is told of four young Huguenot
couples who were to be married in Cevennes when the dreaded French
Dragoons appeared. Two of the bridal couples were caught and given the
choice: recant their Protestant beliefs, or die at the stake. They
refused to do so, and were all four burned to death whilst they sang
metal worker from Nimes made a medallion to commemorate their heroic
death. The nucleus resembled the Maltese Cross, the four arms of which
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, reminding of the love of the two young couples who, true to
their faith, were burnt at the stake on their wedding-day.
Huguenot Cross, with its rich symbolism, is often worn by descendants
of the Huguenots, and can be seen at most Huguenot gatherings.
regarding the availability of the Huguenot Cross in lapel pin or
pendant format can be directed to the Huguenot Memorial Museum (a
not-for-profit organization) at the following address:
PO Box 293
text and images on this website are © Copyright 1998: Huguenot Society
of South Africa