Montbéliard (Doubs)

The Saint-Martin Temple in Montbéliard is the biggest Protestant temple in France.

Named after Martin Luther...

  • Saint-Martin Temple in Montbéliard (25) © S.H.P.F.

The Church was named Saint-Martin after Martin Luther, born on Saint Martin’s day in 1483. Count Frédéric de Montbéliard, duke of Wurttemberg, decided to have it built in 1601. He appointed the architect Heinrich Schickard and travelled in Italy with him, so that the Italian style might influence the building of the imposing edifice.

The material used was white chalk from the Jura region enhanced with pink sandstone from the Alsace region.

According to the early plans, it should have been surmounted by a four-storey high tower with a protruding gallery between the third and fourth floor, topped with a pyramidal steeple. As funding became scarce, a small temporary steeple, still existing today, was paid for by church members and was inaugurated in 1677.

Not much is known about the interior arrangements, except for the remaining magnificent wood panelled ceiling, with a 17th century Italian painting, featuring the Good Shepherd, in ” Tondo ” style in the centre,. In 1837, a monumental organ was installed in the tribunes built in 1684. Renamed Temple of Reason during the Revolution, then used as a food store in 1870-1871, and a flour store between 1914 and 1921, the Saint-Martin temple was an impressively solemn, outsized building, that loses some of its cold atmosphere only when large crowds gather on special occasions.

Montbéliard (Doubs)

Bibliography

  • Books
    • DUBIEF Henri et POUJOL Jacques, La France protestante, Histoire et Lieux de mémoire, Max Chaleil éditeur, Montpellier, 1992, rééd. 2006, p. 450
    • LAURENT René, Promenade à travers les temples de France, Les Presses du Languedoc, Millau, 1996, p. 520
    • REYMOND Bernard, L’architecture religieuse des protestants, Labor et Fides, Genève, 1996

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