The Waldensians were members of a Christian sect founded in Lyon, France in 1179 by the rich salesman, Pierre Waldo (Valdes). He distributed his goods to the poor and decided to preach the values of poverty, work, and the Gospel. Gradually, disciples followed him to the South, the Alps, to Italy…They refused the sacraments and the cult of Saints, and they established their own clergy. The Waldensians were excommunicated (excluded from a religious community) in 1184 and as a result became a widespread community. Rejected by the feudal government and the Church, they became a spread out community.
At the end of the XVth Century in the Luberon, they were joined by the immigrants coming from the Italian Piemont and from the French Dauphiné fleeing persecutions and economic turmoil. They were among the first to repopulate the village of La Roque d’Anthéron; the lords of Forbin signed the first acts of dwelling with 70 Valdesian families in 1514. They joined the Reform in 1532. But in the XVIth Century, the Parliament of Provence launched a tremendous inquisition, carried out by the baron Meynier d'Oppède; many villages were burned completely destroying the Waldensians in France in 1545.
After many persecutions, some of the Waldensians abjured, others sought refuge in Switzerland, in Italy, in Germany, in South Africa or America.
A few of them landed in Darién (between Colombia and Panamá). This meeting of two minority cultures and two threatened populations gave place to a fusion mixing their respective clothing and artistic practices. The “Molas” are superb resultants of this melting pot. Today the Cuna Indians continue this astonishing technique. A hundred of these works are visible in la Roque d’ Anthéron. The mola is appreciated like a true painting, a masterpiece, but it also conceals many elements echoing the Amerindian and Christian traditions.
This collection, which continues to grow rich each year and which has been displayed in the large capitals of the world, is presented today in La Roque Anthéron
> Discover the new museum
La Roque d’Antheron is a Waldensian daughter of the Luberon and belongs to an historical trail that started in Lyon in the Xllth Century and is still running around the world (Route des Vaudois or Waldensian Trail)
Many sites in the village and in its neighbourhood testify of the presence of the Valdesian community: Silvacane abbey, the Temple (even if no one to this day knows where is the site of the first temple built in 1560 )...
As you have a walk in the old village, following the steps of these former Waldensian colonists, you will find the traces they left 450 years ago while discovering the stages of the trail of the Luberon temples(tourist route running from the left side of the Durance to fertile Luberon). Along the villages of the trail, each Temple has on its frontage an original work testifying of this page of an astonishing History.
On the Temple of La Roque is written the history of the Protestants. Inside, one can read the names of the 50 Valdesian families who set up in our village in 1521.
Know more about the Waldensian history of La Roque d'Antheron: download our booklet now available in english!
> A Waldensian and Protestant village