The Cross of Prester John

The space between the Port Elizabeth City Hall, Old Post Office Building and the Feather Market Centre in Fleming Square and it contains a monument which is the only of its kind in the world.  The Prester John Cross was unveiled in 1986 by the Portuguese Ambassador and is dedicated to the mythical king-priest, Prester John, and the Portuguese explorers who discovered South Africa.

It was the quest for Prester John as a Christian ally that led to expeditions to reach him by sailing around Africa.   The monument consists of a large Coptic cross and in the central circle are the figures of Prester John and a Portuguese navigator.  

The legend of Prester John were popular in Europe from the 12th through the 17th centuries and it told of a king said to rule over a Christian nation lost amidst the Muslims and pagans in the Orient. Prester John was reportedly a descendant of one of the Three Wise Men of the bible  and was generous ruler and a virtuous man, presiding over a realm full of riches and strange creatures. 
At first it was imagined that Prester John resided in India.  Later accounts placed the king in Central Asia and eventually Portuguese explorers convinced themselves that they had found him in Ethiopia, which had been officially Christian since the 4th century. 

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Jo

    What a beautiful monument and what an interesting story about someone I have never even heard of. Thanks for sharing! Have a wonderful weekend. Greetings, Jo

  2. Lu-Gerda

    Visiting PE last year was the first time I heard of Prester John. I read more about him found this legend very interesting.

  3. Roché Petersen

    It is just so sad that the monument is hidden away behind the City Hall. It deserves better!

  4. Firefly

    I agree. I needs to be somewhere where more tourists can see it.

  5. Firefly

    I know the basics but when you look at the whole story on Wikipedia it becomes the source of a great epic movie.

  6. Firefly

    Very few people knows the story or that the monument even exist.