It is sometimes asserted that the cross appeared for the first time during the Huguenot Wars (1562-1598) in the South of France.
The symbolism of the Huguenot cross is particularly rich.
- The cross as an eminent symbol of the Christian faith, represents not only the death of Christ but also victory over death and impiety. This is represented also in the Maltese Cross.
- It is boutonné, the eight points symbolizing the eight Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12)
- Between the arms of the cross is the stylized fleur-de-lys (on the French Coat of Arms), each has 3 petals; the total of twelve petals of the fleur-de-lys signify the twelve apostles. Between each fleur-de-lys and the arms of the Maltese Cross with which it is joined, an open space in the form of a heart, the symbol of loyalty, suggests the seal of the French Reformer, John Calvin.
- The pendant dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16).In times of persecution a pearl, symbolizing a teardrop, replaced the dove.
The elements of the Huguenot cross mirrored those of the cross of the 1578 Order of the Holy Spirit, the senior chivalric order of France by precedence.