A decorative wrought iron cross next to the Marie’s (mayors) office in Minerve, a village in the Hérault department of southern France in which a group of Cathars sought refuge in the village after the massacre of kinfolk at nearby Béziers in 1210.
Followers of Catharism – a Gnostic movement between the 12th and 14th centuries – the Cathars, were considered good Christians but still underwent a prolonged period of religious persecution by the Catholic Church, which did not recognize their unorthodox Christianity.
The village was besieged by the army of Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester for six weeks before it surrendered. Four catapults or trebuchets were set up, three to attack the village itself and the largest, to destroy the town’s well. With the town’s only water supply cut off, the Commander of the 200-strong garrison, Viscount Guilhem of Minerve, gave in and negotiated a surrender in order to have the villagers and himself spared from death.
However, 140 Cathars refused to give up their faith and convert, being burned to death at the stake on 22 July. The victims are commemorated by a dove, roughly hewn in the peace sculpture just visible below the wall light on the right.