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The mysterious cross that predicts the end of the world

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The town of Hendaye is in god-knows-where. I’m tempted to say the South-West of France, as close to the Spanish border as you could possibly get. But some of my Basque friends will insist that Hendaye is neither in France nor Spain. It belongs to Euskal Herria, otherwise known as the Basque Country. It’s here in this untouched and obscure corner of the Bay of Biscay that a small and strange looking cross has inspired theories about the end of the world, that have spread beyond Hendaye and across the globe.

Paroisse Notre Dame de la Bidassoa
Paroisse Notre Dame de la Bidassoa
7 Rue du Vieux Fort, 64700 Hendaye, France

The great cross of Hendaye

After hearing about the apocalyptic warning this centuries-old cross supposedly reveals, I travelled to the main square in Hendaye’s old town to see it. The cross is located outside the church Paroisse Notre Dame de la Bidassoa. Its origins are unknown but it probably dates back to the 1600s. It seemed rather underwhelming at first sight, perhaps because it stands in the corner of a small car park. Nonetheless, I would definitely say that the cross of Hendaye does have its unique features. The strange symbols on its base - a star, the moon and the sun with a face – are identical to those found on tarot cards.

© Photo: Adam L. Maloney

But what does all this mean?

The theory that spread is that the great cross of Hendaye is warning us of some future catastrophe of an apocalyptic scale. The face of the sun shows an expression of shock and horror whilst the upper part, or the actual crucifix, has an inscription in Latin which reads

O Crux Ave Spes Unica

...meaning hail to the cross, our only hope.

© Photo: Adam L. Maloney

But how does that mean the end of the world?

That’s where the story gets incredibly strange and complicated. The person responsible is a man whose true identity we may never know. He was known as Fulcanelli and is said to have lived through both World Wars up until the 1950s. What we do know is that he published books in the 1920s about alchemy and Gothic Cathedrals. Furthermore, a number of writers and physicists who were alive at the time, claimed to have met him and learned from him. It’s what he wrote in one of his books in particular that gave birth to this theory about the cross of Hendaye.

© Photo: Adam L. Maloney

But who was Fulcanelli and what did he say?

Fulcanelli was the most renowned alchemist of the 20th century. His writings were not simply dismissed as outlandish conspiracy theories because he was regarded as highly intelligent and exceptionally knowledgeable. In 1926, he published a book called the “The Mystery of the Cathedrals”. The book stated that the Gothic Cathedrals of Europe displayed hidden messages revealing the secrets of alchemy. In 1957, the book was republished with a mysterious extra chapter called “The Cyclic Cross of Hendaye”. In this chapter, he explains in great detail the meaning behind the cross; that the world awaits a huge catastrophe; that the end could be near.

© Photo: Adam L. Maloney

The legacy of the cross of Hendaye

Maybe we’ll never know who Fulcanelli was but his legacy lives on, sometimes surfacing in popular culture. Legendary rock musician Frank Zappa once released a song entitled ‘but who was Fulcanelli?’ The mystery man also emerges in Scott Mariani’s novel The Alchemist’s Secret. Whoever Fulcanelli really was, he certainly brought attention to the cross of Hendaye, a bizarre and curious little monument that most people would never have even noticed.

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The author

Adam L. Maloney

Adam L. Maloney

Adam is a Londoner who travelled to over 20 European countries and lived in both Portugal and Spain for several years. Adam is a fan of exploring intriguing neighbourhoods and meeting locals.

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