Paul Rabaut (1718-1794)

As a pastor in the “Churches of the Desert”, Paul Rabaut lived a secret and dangerous life

A career as pastor within the "Churches of the Desert"

  • Paul Rabaut © S.H.P.F.

He was born in Bédarieux (Hérault) in 1718. His father was a woollen merchant. He then became a student of divinity, in other words a travelling disciple of a pastor in the “Churches of the Desert”.

In 1738, he was sent by the Synod to be a divinity in Nîmes. Then he went to Lausanne to attend theology classes at the French Seminary. There, he met Antoine Court.

Paul Rabaut embodied the resistance, opposition of the “Churches of the Desert” to legal persecution.

He was a pastor at a time when periods of harsh repression (a price was put on his head) alternated with lulls in the persecution of Protestants thanks to, in part, the trickling of the philosophical ideas of the Enlightenment Age.

In 1741, he was at the head of the Church of Nîmes where he took many steps to legally improve the condition of Protestants, and more particularly that of the female inmates in the Constance Tower. Some of his writings proved his involvement, such as for example “the very humble and highly respectful request presented to the King by the Protestants of the Languedoc province” (1761).

Paul Rabaut was the father of Rabaut Saint-Etienne who was a deputy to the Third Estate in 1789

In the wake of the arrest of his son Rabaut Saint-Etienne, on December 5, 1793, who was to be executed, Paul Rabaut was jailed at the citadel in Nîmes. He was released when Robespierre was overthrown in July 1794 but died a year later.

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