Louis Claude, Comte de Saint-Martin (January 18, 1743 - October 13, 1803) led a gentle and blameless life in the midst of the holocaust of the French Revolution. He was a true Theosophist and an Adept. His times witnessed human distress, degradation and disintegration to a degree which made many cynical and nihilistic. Saint-Martin calmly drew attention to the 'ministry of man,' his immortal nature and divine destiny, exemplifying in his own life that one can perceive timeless truths in temporal chaos.
Born in Amboise, Touraine, his early life is unknown. Tradition suggests that at about the age of fifteen he met the Comte de Saint Germain who had taken up residence in Chateau Chambord a few miles from Amboise. After studying jurisprudence, Saint-Martin became King's Advocate at the High Court of Tours, but his interest in the roots of human justice outweighed his tolerance of judicial technicality. He appealed to his influential friend, the Duc de Choiseul, to help him gain another post, and in 1766 he became a lieutenant in the Regiment de Foix garrisoned in Bordeaux. Then, in 1767, he met Don Martinez Pasquales, a Rosicrucian, founder of a Masonic order and student of the Kabbalah.
Pasquales founded his order in Paris and established an occult school in Bordeaux called the Order of Elect Cohens, which Saint-Martin joined in 1768. Deeply impressed by the presence of his teacher and by his doctrines, Saint-Martin renounced his military career in 1771. His seriousness of purpose and devotion to his teacher elevated him to the head of the school when Pasquales had to travel to Santo Domingo in the West Indies. Though the school taught the highest ethical principles, its interest in practical occult powers struck Saint-Martin as dangerously premature for the spiritual progress of its members, even though they included the Comte d'Hauterive, Abbe Fournie, Marquise de la Croix and probably Cazotte. Saint-Martin travelled between Bordeaux, Paris and Lyons in an attempt to refound the school on firmer spiritual foundations. When Pasquales died in Port-au-Prince in 1774, Saint-Martin moved to Lyons and established a secret Masonic rite called the "Rectified Rite of Saint-Martin" in an effort to revivify occult Masonry as a bastion against the growing materialism of the Encyclopaedists.