Labadie, Jean (1610-1674)

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Labadie, Jean (1610-1674)

A French religious leader of the seventeenth century who was born in 1610 at Bourg, on the Dordogne. He declared himself a second John the Baptist, sent to announce the second coming of the Messiah, and also claimed some measure of divinity for himself.

Labadie had pronounced taste for worldly pleasures, however, which he indulged under the mask of religion. He left the Jesuit College in Bordeaux in 1639 and became canon of Amiens. He became the favorite confessor of upper-class women but was obliged to leave Amiens after a number of scandals. He was also in trouble in Toulouse and was eventually discredited by the church.

In 1650 Labadie joined the Reformed Church and became a pastor at Montauban but was banished after charges of sedition. He was similarly ousted from Geneva and moved to Middleburg in Zealand with a band of followers. He was opposed by the Lutherans and eventually expelled with his band. He died February 16, 1674, at Erfurt.

A sect of Labadists persisted for a few years at Wiewart, North Holland, professing austerity of manners similar to early Quakers. The Labadists emphasized community of property within the church and continuance of prophecy. Among the works of Labadie (which were condemned) was Le Veritable Exorcisme, au l'unique moyen de chasser le diable du monde chrétien (1667).