The first services of worship (1560-1598)
The first services were held in the parochial church of Saint Etienne which became the temple. In 1562, the citizens of Anduze chose the Protestant party led by the Prince de Condé opposed to the Count de Villars,sent from Montpellier to pacify the Cévennes region. In 1567, in order to build fortifications, the inhabitants demolished the religious buildings, including the Saint Etienne Temple.
The truce did not last long and religious wars began once more.
After the signing of the Edict of Nantes in 1598, the Reformed decided to build their own temple.
The first temple (1600-1686)
In 1600, the first temple as such was built on the site of the former Catholic Church. The architecture was simple : a square building of 22.8m, with a steeple and a single semicircular arch inside, similar to the one in Collet-de-Dèze (Lozère). It could seat 2,000 worshipers. The pulpit at the far end was surrounded by pews for the captains and councillors. The nave was divided in two aisles, the left side for men and the right side for women.
In 1686, the temple was demolished. On its site, the Catholics built their church. An inscription said the sanctuary was “destroyed to its foundations by the heresy of Calvin but was rebuilt thanks to the munificence of Louis XIV and consecrated to God in 1688.”
After the Revolution
After the Revolution, the Catholic Church became a decadal Temple, in which protestant services of worship were resumed in 1796.
A new temple was to be built in 1811.
Jean Calvin (1509-1564)
A generation after Luther, the Frenchman Jean Calvin became the organiser of the Reformation : he organised the Church, shaped the doctrine and defined the role of the Church in state government.
The Edict of Nantes (1598)
This was Henri IV’s major achievement : the terms of this edict ensured the peaceful coexistence of Catholics and Protestants and brought a stop to all hostilities in France after 36 years of civil warfare.
Collet-de-Dèze is the oldest temple in France. Protestantism was established in the valley of the Gardon as soon as 1566.
The architecture of 17th century churches
In the 17th century, Protestant religious architecture flourished all over France. Unfortunately few churches survive today – a large number were destroyed after only a short time.