Paul Rabaut - Encyclopedia

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PAUL RABAUT (1718-1794), French pastor of "the Church of the Desert" (see Huguenots), was born at Bedarieux, near Montpellier, on the 29th of January 1718. In 1738 he was admitted as a preacher by the synod of Languedoc, and in 1740 he went to Lausanne to complete his studies in the seminary recently founded there by Antoine Court. In 1741 Rabaut was placed at the head of the church of Nimes, and in 1744 he was vice-president of the general synod. During the persecution of1745-1752Rabaut himself was obliged to hide. When the marquis of Paulmy d'Argenson was sent to Languedoc to make a military inspection, Rabaut succeeded in interviewing him (1750). For a time the persecution ceased, but it broke out again in 1753, a price being put upon Rabaut's head. Louis Francois de Bourbon, prince de Conti, interested himself in the Protestants in 1755, and in July Rabaut visited him. During the years1755-1760periods of persecution and toleration alternated. By the year 1760, however, the efforts of Antoine Court and P. Rabaut had been so successful that French Protestantism was well established and organized. Court de Gebelin, Paul Rabaut, and his son Saint-Etienne now exerted themselves to get it recognized by the law and government. W hen the people revolted, the minister Turgot in 1775 requested Rabaut to calm them. His success aroused the jealousy of his colleagues, who tried to undo the good work started by Antoine Court. But Rabaut persevered in his efforts to improve legally the position of the Protestants. In 1785, when he was visited by General La Fayette, it was arranged that Rabaut's son, Rabaut Saint-Etienne, should go to Paris on behalf of the Reformed Church. In November 1787 Louis XVI.'s edict of toleration was signed, though it was not registered until the 29th of January 1788. Two years later liberty of conscience was proclaimed by the National Assembly, of which Rabaut Saint-Etienne was chosen vice-president, and it was declared that non-Catholics might be admitted to all positions. After the fall of the Girondists, however, in which Rabaut SaintEtienne was involved, Paul Rabaut, who had refused to renounce his title of pastor, was arrested, dragged to the citadel of Nimes, and kept in prison seven weeks (1794). He died at Nimes on the 25th of September 1794, soon after his release.

See J. Pons de Nimes, Notice biographique sur Paul Rabaut (1808); Charles Dardier, Paul Rabaut, ses lettres a Antoine Court (1884) and Paul Rabaut, ses lettres a divers (1891).

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