Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Huguenot Cross

The other day we visited a memorial in a nearby town to the Huguenots, protestant Christians being persecuted in France, who eventually settled in South Africa. I bought a little pendant with the Huguenot cross on it. The following is from the document they gave me with the pendant. It inspired me, so I thought I'd post it here. The story of their cross goes like this:

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 neighborhood.

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 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 Nimes 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.

1 comment:

Hels said...

What a great story.. one I had never heard before. Romantic tales of martyrdom probably served a very important role in comforting and propping up families who felt oppressed and persecuted.

There aren't many Protestants in France today (2% of the population at most), but you will be pleased to know that the Cevennes region is largely their home.

I have created a link to your post, many thanks
Art and Architecture, mainly

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