Back in July, we had some friends over from the States, and while they were here we took them to visit the Musée du Désert (the Desert Museum) in the Cévennes region. Despite the name, said museum is not about the desert. It’s actually about the Protestant history of the area, specifically the Huguenots, of which I am a descendant on my mom’s side.
The museum is in what used to be a house belonging to a Protestant pastor named Pierre Laporte (also called Rolland). It’s full of exhibits on the history of the Protestant Reformation, major pastors and preachers, as well as significant events in that area.
A significant portion of the exhibits were dedicated to the period of persecution that lasted from when Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, making Catholicism the only acceptable religion in France, up until about the time of the French Revolution. During that time, Protestant congregations in the Cévennes often met out in the countryside, which was mainly desert, hence the name of the museum. They became very adept at hiding their Bibles and other accessories; for example, they converted barrels and ladders into collapsible pulpits and printed tiny Bibles and prayer books that women could hide in their buns:
Pastor Rolland also had a hiding place in his house that he could duck into whenever soldiers came looking for him:
There were a number of memorials for pastors, preachers, and others who were killed or imprisoned for their faith:
This is a prayer written by a Protestant galley slave:
“Lord, may I see
This iron ring I wear
As a wedding ring
And these chains I drag
As the chains of Your love.”