Little is known of an Anabaptist movement in Lorraine. Refugees from Flanders, including a surgeon of Lille, came to Metz in 1538, and judging from a letter Calvin wrote to Farel, they must have won some converts. But their work was of short duration. They were taken prisoner; two were drowned in the Moselle, and one was branded and expelled.
In the 18th century considerable numbers of Mennonites whom Louis XIV had expelled from Alsace in 1712 settled in the duchy of Lorraine. From the Leber Valley (Ste-Marie-aux-Mines) they migrated over the mountains into the Saar Valley, and spread over the Lorraine plateau as far as the duchy of Zweibrücken. In the mountains they formed the Hang and Salm congregations, farther north the Welschland, the German-Lorraine, and the Bitscherland congregations.
When the rest of Lorraine came to France in 1766, Louis XV made inquiries about the Mennonites, but did not disturb them, since the reports were favorable. Some years previously he reprimanded an official who had wanted to compel the Mennonites living in the bishopric of Metz to have their children baptized.
In the 19th century the Mennonites moved westward, forming congregations that gradually adopted French as their language; some of the churches in the German-speaking area in northern Lorraine remained. In the four départements of Lorraine there were in 1935 some 800 Mennonites, in eleven congregations. In 1955 there were only eight congregations with some 750 souls.
The largest numbers of Mennonites were in the département of Moselle. Here in the German-speaking area there are two congregations: Sarreguemines, formerly Bitscherland, and Diesen, descended from the German-Lorraine congregation. On the linguistic border is Sarrebourg, derived in part from the Welschland and in part from the German-Lorraine congregations.
In the départements Meurthe and Moselle there are three congregations: Baccarat, Lunéville, and Toul, which originated chiefly from the Welschland and Salm congregations, with some additions from German-Lorraine and Zweibrücken.
In the Vosges département the Vosges (Darney) congregation was organized from the above congregations. In the département Meuse is the Meuse (Ligny) congregation, with the same origin as the above. The Salm (now Bénaville) and Hang congregations were made a part of Lower Alsace after the Franco-Prussian War, and are in the French-speaking area.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 694.
Cite This Article
Sommer, Pierre. "Lorraine (France)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 9 Mar 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Lorraine_(France)&oldid=95848.
Sommer, Pierre. (1957). Lorraine (France). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 9 March 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Lorraine_(France)&oldid=95848.
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