posted February 25, 2009

Lecture on 18th Century French Religious Sect

The French Cultural Studies Colloquium at Hope College will host a lecture on a unique 18th-century French religious sect on Wednesday, March 4, at 4 p.m. in the Maas Center conference room.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

The address, "Raiding the Mystical Ark: The Suppression of the Huguenot Multipliant Sect (Montpellier, March-April, 1723)," will be presented by Dr. Otto Selles, professor of French at Calvin College.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

In early 18th-century France, a Huguenot (French-Calvinist) widow named Anne Robert had a vision that inspired her to organize clandestine worship services in her Montpellier home. Known today as the Multipliants (Multipliers), her group followed prophetic inspirations to blend Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish traditions into what Louis XV's court viewed as an unacceptable new religion.

In recounting the arrest and trial of the Multipliants, the lecture will examine the bewildering worship space - the "mystical ark" - established in Anne Robert's home. According to Selles, the Multipliants, in contrast with the absolute intolerance demonstrated by royal authorities, mixed their sectarian practices with an almost modern, Enlightenment sense of tolerance.

Selles is a specialist of 18th-century French religious studies.  His research focuses principally on the ties between the French Enlightenment and Huguenot (French Calvinist) writers of that period.  His dissertation examined Huguenot texts on religious freedom that appeared before Voltaire's 1763 "Treatise on Toleration." His study led to the publication of his critical edition of Antoine Court's 1751-1753 work "Le Patriote français et impartial" (Paris: Champion, 2002).  He has also published articles on Pierre Bayle, Maximilien Misson and Voltaire.

The MaasCenter is located at 264 Columbia Ave., on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street.