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The Huguenot cross

The Huguenot cross serves as identity for French Protestants.

Among the different kinds of cross (Latin, Greek, St Andrew, Lorraine, swastika), the Huguenot cross seems to originate from the Maltese cross ; the small balls or pearls which decorate its points come from the cross of Languedoc.

The date when it appeared and its precise origin are not really known. It first appeared as a jewel and its first maker seems to be somebody from Lyon and also some jewellers in Nîmes in the seventeenth century.

Some of them are found today either with the « tear-drop » (pestle or « trissou » from Nîmes) or with the « dove », symbol of the Holy Spirit according to the model created by Maïstre. It is also believed the « tear-drop » could represent the phial which contained the Oil for the Anointing of the kings of France.

It had all the components of the decoration of the Order of the Knighthood of the Holy Spirit, created by Henry the third in 1578 and from which the Huguenots were excluded. We can suppose that it was in response to this ostracism that they had the idea of creating a jewel, the Huguenot Emblem, which would be inspired by this decoration.

Adopted as an emblem by the French Church in London, it is also found in the Dutch temples where it was brought by the French migrants.

It had varying success, its revival dates from 1910 ( when the « Musée du Désert » was founded ) and the Huguenot Cross, in various forms and materials, is still the rallying sign and the the affirmation of the protestant faith.

Many people saw three main aspects in the symbolism of the Huguenot Cross :

- The cross symbolizes the grace acquired by the sacrifice of Christ.

- the « Fleurs de lys » represent the Kingdom to witch the the Huguenots maintained their faithfulness

- the dove or Holy Spirit is the reminder of the presence of God even in the midst of adversity such as the « Desert ».

Cf : Pierre BOURGUET : La Croix Huguenote . Ed. Musée du Désert. 1991. 68p. illus. Sold at the Musée du Désert.

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