Our Huguenot Heritage

Banner - Our Huguenot HeritageAmerican Christians have a long-standing connection to our French brethren of the past, the Huguenots. The Huguenots were the Christians of the Reformation in the sixteenth century in France. Many gave their lives for Christ, that we, who follow after them, might continue to know Him. The contributions and the heritage that have been passed down through the centuries from the French are numerous and sometimes surprising.

Did you know that when we sing the Doxology, we sing the “Old Hundredth” tune composed by Parisian Louis Bourgeois, a Huguenot?

Did you know that your New Testament verse reference system was created in 1551 by the French Huguenot Robert Estienne, a printer and classical scholar?

Did you know that the Frenchman, Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples—a scholar/priest in Paris– greatly influenced Martin Luther on the doctrine of justification by faith alone?

Did you know that the Frenchman John Calvin wrote The Institutes of the Christian Religion, a work studied by nearly all western theologians ever since?

Did you know that in the large park in downtown Geneva, there stands the Reformation Wall that celebrates in its central portion four main characters of the Reformation—John Calvin, Guillaume Farel, Theodore de Bèze, and John Knox? Three of these great men who changed the world were Frenchmen. They are remembered for being used by God to courageously bring light after darkness—Post Tenebras Lux—in Europe.

030-reformation-wall

You may know that New York City was founded by the Dutch as New Amsterdam. But did you know that many of those immigrants from Holland had been Frenchmen who, in the midst of persecution in France, had stood firm in their faith in Christ alone, refusing to recant? To literally save their lives and to live in a place where they could raise their covenant children to love God, they fled from France to Holland and then to the United States, bringing the salt and light of their faith in Christ to their new land.

Did you know that the Huguenots have left us a rich heritage of heroes of the faith?

Have you heard of the Huguenot Admiral de Coligny, who was the first Protestant leader to be killed in the horrific Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre in Paris in 1572? Thousands of godly men, women, and children were slaughtered in their homes and in the streets because they clung to Christ and salvation by faith only in Him.

Marie Durand in the Tour de Constance prison
Marie Durand in the Tour de Constance prison

Have you heard of Marie Durand, who was imprisoned in a cold stone tower in 1730 at 19 years of age– for the “crime” of attending a Protestant worship service and being the sister of the pastor, who confessed Christ as the only Lord? Her letters bear witness to the fact that she spent 38 years encouraging fellow prisoners in the Lord.

Did you know that when she was released at 57 years of age, she still loved her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and she had resisted all the efforts to make her recant her faith?

Did you know that the word “resister” (resist) was scratched into the rock of the wall of that infamous Tower of Constance, and that it bears witness today to the persevering faith of the many Huguenot women who were imprisoned there?

Did you know that there were thousands of Huguenot families whose children were taken from them and whose homes were confiscated because of their attachment to Christ and the Bible?

Have you heard of the hundreds of French pastors who died rowing as slaves in the galleys on the ships of Louis XIV?

ParisFew countries in history have shed as much blood or have shined as brightly for Christ as has France in the past. Some scholars estimate that nearly 50 % of the French population was for one short period during the Reformation committed to Huguenot biblical teaching. But soon, an overwhelming number of Huguenots were tortured and killed for their faith. The blood of the martyrs watered French soil. France was left destitute of hardy Christians; those who were not killed and who did not recant their faith fled to other countries, bringing immeasurable blessing to other parts of the world.
Today less than 1% of the French population are evangelical believers. France is strongly secular (laïque), and leads Europe as far as the percentage of people who “never “ or “practically never” attend church. Many French people are agnostics or atheists. The intellect, reason, education, and pleasure are the gods of the day.

In the dire spiritual context of present-day France, Hebrews 13:7 exhorts us to remember the saints of the past. It says, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you, and…imitate their faith.

Huguenot Heritage is playing a part in doing just that by making solid biblical education available in French, for free, through seminary-level, video-based curriculum.

 

Francis has a trio of passions—his faith, his family, and his food. He was trained to become a chef in the elite world of gastronomy in Lyon, France before being trained as a minister of the Gospel at the Reformed Seminary in Aix-en-Provence. He worked as a chef in France and Switzerland, and later created his own high-end restaurant in the USA. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America in 1987, and ministered as a church planter in France and in Quebec for 24 years. Francis now works with Huguenot Heritage in partnership with Third Millennium Ministries. He and his wife Donna have five children and seventeen grandchildren.

4 Comments

  1. Henry van der Molen

    I have long admitted the perseverance of the saints as seen in the Huguenots. You will find a few things that remind us often of the Huguenots. The Huguenot cross has so much meaning and brings us closer to God.
    Thank you for this post.

  2. you mean, and I’m reading that the huguenot belief was based on the ‘thought’ of ‘four’ men? who would follow men? wow! I can’t believe this……..well, I suppose, the human condition is to go the easier way, and to just say I follow Christ is an ‘easy’ for everybody…….and it’s true, but it goes much deeper and with a rich recorded history back to Christ when He was on earth, BUT, in retrospect the catholic church, (that is people, , public persons, kings(at the time) and the hiearchy of the Church Christ established. (remember, he only established one thru his apostles, Are there huguenots today? no, not specifically in name, it comes in different denominations no doubt. is there a Calvin denomination? perhaps, but that’s not the point here………satan did his work well, he conquered and divided. so now we have some 5000 + denominations, the reformation was a total failure for the salvation of mankind, which threw out the very center of Christ’s teaching……….The Eucharist… A church that does NOT have the Eucharist is not from Christ, in fact they are severed from Christ as the head……….and will fall sooner or later. There is no changing stupid…….

  3. Dear Mary– Sadness with the current splintered state of Christ’s church is shared by Protestants as well as Roman Catholics, but the splits long preceded Luther and Calvin, in branches of the Church outside the reaches of Rome (Coptic, Eastern Orthodox, Armenian, Syrian, etc), and within he RCC (countless heresies and reform movements). I pray that we can move closer in fellowship and ecclesiology as we more closely follow God’s Holy Word, the Bible. By the way, Protestants do celebrate the Eucharist, usually calling it the Lord’s Supper.

  4. Wow Mary; what planet are you on? I didn’t know “people” on other planets could hook into this earthly network so easily. You are quite confused and have no concept of Huguenot history or beliefs, or of Christians in general then or now. Please come on down to Earth and read a few history books and the Bible, talk to some educated people, research with your mind, and then maybe you will understand it all a little better.
    Very best regards……..Sevier (Anglicised Xavier, and yes, obviously I am a Huguenot descendant.)

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