The Huguenot Monument in Franschhoek, Western Cape.

Posted on Mon May 27, 2019.

Huguenot Monument

                                                                          Huguenot Monument

The Huguenot Monument in Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa, is dedicated to the cultural influences that Huguenots have brought to the Cape Colony (and ultimately the whole of South Africa) after their immigration during the 17th and 18th centuries. The French and Belgian Protestants were fleeing religious persecution, especially in Catholic France.

The monument was designed by J.C. Jongens, completed in 1945 and inaugurated by Dr. A.J. van der Merwe on 17 April 1948. The three high arches symbolize the Holy Trinity: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. On top of the arches is the sun of righteousness and above that, the Huguenot cross of their Christian faith.

The central female figure, created by Coert Steynberg, personifies religious freedom, holding a bible in one hand and a broken chain in the other. She is casting off her cloak of oppression. Her position on top of the globe shows her spiritual freedom. It also refers to representations of the figure of the Virgin Mary of Catholicism, who may be shown with one foot resting on the globe. The fleur-de-lis on this woman's robe represents noble spirit and character. It was long the symbol of the French monarchy, still in power at the time of the Huguenot exile.

The southern tip of the globe shows the symbols of their religion: the Bible; art and culture: the harp; agriculture and viticulture: a sheaf of corn and grape vine; and industry: spinning wheel for silk and cloth weavers. The water pond, reflecting the colonnade behind it, expresses the undisturbed tranquility of mind and spiritual peace which the Huguenots refugees gained in South Africa after dealing with violent religious persecution in France. experienced after much conflict and strife.

The Huguenot Memorial Museum adjacent to the monument explores the history of the French Huguenots who settled in the Cape, and especially in the Franschhoek Valley. On exhibition are the various tools they used to make wine, clothes they wore, and interpretation of their culture and goals.

Also on the site are wine cellars joined by a colonnade, which bears the words Post Tenebras Lux (lit. "after darkness [comes] light"). It was the motto of the Protestants during the Reformation. This phrase was first inscribed on the Reformation Wall in Geneva, Switzerland, dedicated to the Protestant Reformation.