The Cross shown here which has been adopted as the insignia of The National Huguenot Society is both beautiful and symbolic. It is not, however, exclusive to the Society. It is being used more and more throughout the world as a sign among the descendants of the Huguenots. Many designs of the Cross have been worn by Huguenots throughout the years. This particular design was discovered by the Reverend Andrew Mailhet in the province of Languedoc, France, and dates from at least the eighteenth century. It has, therefore, become known as the Cross of Languedoc.
It is impossible to know exactly when the Huguenots adopted the Huguenot Cross as a symbol and confirmation of their faith. However, it is believed to have been a sign of recognition among the French Protestants as early as the 17th century. It was patterned after the Order of the Holy Spirit insignia worn by Henry IV of Navarre, who issued the Edict of Nantes in 1598 to protect Protestant freedoms. The Huguenot Society of South Africa provides the following information as to its history:
“The Huguenot cross was designed and first manufactured by a certain Mystre of Nîmes in 1688. It has as its predecessor the badge of the Hospitaler Knights of St John of Jerusalem also known as the Knights of Malta, 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 Cross for the central part. (The Maltese Cross is generally associated with fire and is the symbol of protection of fire fighters in many countries).”
“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.”
Significance and Meaning
The gold Cross of Languedoc, with the official ribbon of the Society which is white, edged with stripes of French blue and gold has become the official insignia of The National Huguenot Society worn by members. The Cross of Languedoc consists of four elements: