A place of historical importance
A strategic spot in the Drôme Valley, Pontaix had its castle and its keep built as early as the 12th century. On the remains of the 12th century chapel, a Catholic church was built during the 15th century. In the 16th century the latter became – and today still is – the Protestant temple.
Fresco paintings from that period remain, including the “crucified Christ between Mary and Magdalene”, as well as the coat of arms separated by black mourning bands (“litres”) : the funeral marks of 16th century Pontaix Protestants.
On a window of the temple’s western wall, one can read the date of 1562, commemorating the reformer Guillaume Farel.
During the wars of religion, the Pontaix military garrison played an important role, fighting in the Diois, Dauphiné and Guyenne regions, and taking part in the sieges of Livron, Montélimar, Gap and Grenoble.
Towards the end of the 16th century, the parish of Pontaix had some 600 parishioners. A new temple was built after 1614, but was destroyed at the Revocation. The old temple, given back to the Catholic, became the Church of Saint Apollinaire. Nevertheless, the Protestant community remained sizable, headstrong and active – even when underground.
After the Revolution, the Concordat law allowed the Protestants to have access once more to their temple.