The Huguenot Mereaux
In the 16th century the Reformation happened. A new type of Christianity was born. People who chose to follow this new Christianity were called Protestants. Now there were Catholics and Protestants.
In France, the Protestants were called Huguenots (hyu-ga-nos). The Huguenots were forced to pray in secret so that the Catholics couldn’t stop them. They found quiet places in the forest or in the mountain caves to pray. People could only go to these secret meetings if they had a special coin, called a ‘mereaux’ (ma-row). These small metal discs were given to the faithful after they had been examined as evidence that they were entitled to take communion.
On the mereaux coin, the Protestants engraved a small picture. It was a picture of Jesus Christ, with his staff in his left hand and a trumpet in his right hand. There are also fig trees in the picture, and sheep at his feet.
When the Protestants travelled around the country, they showed their mereaux coin to prove who they were. This is how they found Protestant friends who would give them food and a place to stay. The mereaux coin was very important because it helped the Protestants to stay safe.