Jean de Labadie

Jean de Labadie

Jean de Labadie (13 February 1610 – 13 February 1674) was a 17th-century French pietist. Originally a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest, he became a member of the Reformed Church in 1650, before founding the community which became known as the Labadists in 1669. At its height the movement numbered around 600 with thousands of adherents further afield. It attracted some notable female converts such as the famed poet and scholar, Anna Maria van Schurman, and the entomological artist Maria Merian.

Labadie combined the influences of Jansenism, Precicianism,[1] and Reformed Pietism, developing a form of radical Christianity with an emphasis upon holiness and Christian communal living. Labadie's teachings gained hold in the Netherlands.


The son of an officer, he entered the Jesuit Order in 1625, was ordained in 1635,[2] but left in 1639 due to poor health and tensions with the other brothers. He then worked as a diocesan priest in Bordeaux, Paris and Amiens. He turned to Jansenism and intensive study of the Bible, and began to be drawn to Calvinism. He regarded himself as divinely inspired.[2] Cardinal Mazarin had him transferred to southern France in 1646 as a disturber of the peace,[2] where he changed his allegiance to the Reformed Church in 1650 at Montauban.[3]

He served as a pastor and professor of theology at Montauban from 1652-1657. In 1659 he was pastor in Geneva, where he gathered around him disciples notably; Pierre Yvon Pierre Dulignon, François Menuret, and Friedrich Theodor Untereyck Spanheim.[3]

In 1666 he was appointed preacher at Middelburg in the Netherlands, but in 1669 was dismissed for his theological views. He then founded a house church in Amsterdam which served as a model for later foundations, but which was persecuted. He moved on, in 1670, with his pupil Anna Maria van Schurman and his congregation into the a house in Herford, Germany, provided as a refuge for persecuted spiritualists by Albertine Elizabeth [2][3] Here, too, he was pressed and harassed, and in 1672 he left and walked to Altona in Denmark. Labadie died there in 1674. The movement continued both in Europe and America, but had dissipated by 1732.[3]


Labadie's most influential writing was The Reform of the Church Through the Pastorate (1667).

See also


  1. Can These Bones Live?, F. Ernest Stoeffler, Christian History, Volume V, No 2 1986, page 5
  2. 1 2 3 4 Schaff-Herzog
  3. 1 2 3 4 Beate Köster (1992). "Labadie, Jean de". In Bautz, Traugott. Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 4. Herzberg: Bautz. cols. 905–907. ISBN 3-88309-038-7.

Further reading

The most important study on Labadie's life and works is:

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