ever hear of the Waldensians? Probably not. They were originally known as the
Valdese--the dwellers in the valley. They were also called the
Vaudois, and the
Cathars. The word changed through the centuries, to
Waldensians. They lived in the
Piedmont mountain valleys of Northern Italy and Southern France. They were simple people. They were hardworking faithful people.
There was a Christian leader named Peter Waldo,
who ministered to the Waldensians in the 1100's. Because of the similarity of name, he was thought to be the founder
of the Waldensians.
But the Waldensians
were the very
first true Christian denomination.
LUCET IN TENEBRIS
SHINES IN DARKNESS
LIGHT SHINES IN DARKNESS" was the motto of the Waldensians----they lived up to that motto through all the dark days---years---GENERATIONS!-----of
very first century, the Valdese---the "dwellers in the valley" heard the truth of the Gospel. They had the entire
New Testament. The books that have always been the recognized canon of the Christian Church. They lived by its
The Waldensian ministers
were called "barbas". The word meant something like "uncle". these Barbas, and other Waldensian missionaries,
spread the light of the Gospel throughout their portion of Europe in those early centuries. They did not build fancy
buildings. They did not own lots of land, or have political power. All they had was the simple word of the Gospel.
the fifth century, they refused to recognize the church at Rome as a genuine Christian church. The bishops and popes
had set themselves up with political power, lived in the lap of wealth and luxury, claimed that they were the final authority
on all things Christian, and insisted that all Christians everywhere were under their jurisdiction. At the same
time, they had taken all the rituals and ceremonies and liturgies of the ancient pagan Roman religions, called them Christian
liturgy, and insisted that these ceremonies were the heart and reality of the Christian religion.
They went so far as to deny the work that Jesus had done on the Cross. They denied the saving power of the Word of God.
They denied that Jesus Blood cleanses us from all sin, and set up the system of confessions, and penances, and purgatory,
where the sinner was told he had to suffer for his own sins before he could get into Heaven. Yet they still claimed
to have absolute power over everything that called itself Christian.
Revelation 2:6 JESUS SAID--But this you have---You hate the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
Nicolaitans is a compound word that means "conquerors of the laity"-----"overcomers of the people"----the
How were these bishops
and popes "powergrabbers"?
They declared "You
can't come to Christ without us and our ceremonies!" "You must belong to us and be subject to us!"
But the Waldensians
had the Bible. The Word of God. They had it in their own language from the very beginning. The first century.
They studied it and lived by it. Every generation of Waldensians was faithful to what their parents had read to them
from the Word of God.
They hated the deeds
of the Powergrabbers, which Jesus had declared in the Book of Revelation, that He also hated.
Is it really possible
for Jesus to look at something going on in His church, among the people He died for, and declare that He hates it?
Yes it is. Read
In the year 1229 A.D., the Roman church had become an apostate. An apostate is someone who used to be a Christian but
is not, any more. The hierarchy had forsaken its faith, but did not want to forsake its political power.
a meeting called the Council of Valencia. They declared that the Bible was a forbidden book. No one but members
of the clergy could own or read or translate the Bible! The 119th Psalm declares that the entrance of God's word
brings Light. These apostate church leaders were not interested in God's Light.
They declared that they themselves were in charge, and that no one but they themselves were allowed to read the Bible.
Waldensians had the entire New Testament in their own language from the first century. The entrance of God's
Word gave light to their souls.
Psalm 119:11. Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee."
So what did the pope do to these Bible believing protestants dwelling in the Piedmont Mountain Valleys?
IN 1229, The Roman Church had placed the Word
of God, the Bible, on a list called the
Index of Forbidden Books. This was done at the
Council of Valencia. It meant that the Bible, the word of Almighty God, given by the Spirit to the Prophets,
was declared, by these "churchmen" to be against the law. It was now against the law to own, read, or translate any
portion of God's Word, and share it with the people. But Psalm 119:11 says, "Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I
might not sin against Thee."
The missionary Barbas, (the word used for the
Waldensian ministers), ran great risks as they travelled the continent of Europe as peddlars. When they were caught,
and found to have a portion of the Holy Bible in their possession, they were sent to
prison or death. So they took to memorizing
large portions of the Bible, so they would not need the "incriminating" paper. As they travelled as peddlars, they preached
the Word of God and the salvation of Jesus Christ wherever they went.
Even the ordinary men, women, and children
of the Waldensians, who never left home to go on these missionary journeys, were in constant danger. The official
Church in Rome could not tolerate any rebellion aginst its own claim of absolute authority over everything that called itself
Many times over the years, great armies would
overrun the valleys of Piedmont, in the attempt to destroy the Waldensians and their faith in the Bible as the only authority
regarding the teachings of Jesus.
The efforts of the succeeding popes to destroy
Protestant faith of the Waldensians in the Piedmont valleys were highly organized military campaigns.
One of these campaigns took place
Pope Innocent V111
Charles 1, the Duke of Savoy, to assemble an army to destroy the "
heretics" who dared to believe the Christ was the Head of His Own church, and there was no other.
An army of over 18,000 men, looking forward
to victory and plunder, marched into the valleys to wage war against the saints of God.
The large and fierce army marched into the
valleys. The general in charge decided to split his force and storm all of the mountain villages at the same time.
It was the battle of David and Goliath.
Goliath was Rome, armed with swords and
spears, versus David, the poor humble Waldensians, who fought with bows and arrows.
Isaiah 54:17 The Lord told His
people, "NO WEAPON FORMED AGAINST THEE SHALL PROSPER"
The invasion broke up in disarray. One
of the leaders of the soldiers of the invading army was called "Nero of Mondovi".
He and his men managed to get to the top of
a ridge. When the Waldensians assembled there saw him, they fell on their knees in prayer.
Nero of Mondovi mocked them. He thought
they were already conquered. He lifted the visor on his helmet, in order to laugh
at them with greater ease, and shouted "you
shall be saved with a vengeance."
At that moment a Waldensian arrow, fired
by an anonymous "David", pierced his forehead, killing this "Goliath".
His army fled in disorganized retreat, getting
lost in the unfamiliar terrain, and falling to their deaths over the slippery mountain slopes.
Charles 1, Duke of Savoy, withdrew his support
from the expedition. The pope's representative, called the Papal Legate,
was sent away having been told the mission
Then a representative of the House of Savoy
met with the Waldensian Barbas, to assure them that the war agaist them was over. During this meeting, he met some Waldensian
children. He exclaimed in surprise, "Is it possible that these are the children of heretics?" His surprise was
due to the fact that he had been told that the Waldensian "heretics" were monsters born with black throats and a horn in their
forehead. It was attitudes like that, that earned that time of history the
name "Dark Ages".
When there was not an actual war being waged
against them, the Waldensians were still under threat of the Inquistion. To explain it in modern terms, the Holy Office
of the Inquisition was the Religious Police. These church officers invaded every family, every home, to
make sure that the religious laws were being obeyed. Waldensian parents taught their children the Bible. The Religious
Police would arrest the parents, and take the children away from them and put them in monasteries and nunneries, where they
would be taught the ancient pagan ceremonies that were now called Christian, and would be denied the Light of God's word.
The history of the Waldensians is a history
of non-stop persecution, non-stop arrest, torture, imprisonment, beatings, hangings, and burnings, in an attempt to force
them to give up the Bible and be subject to the pope in all their ways. It began in the fifth century, and continued
through all generations until the 1700's.
In the 16th century, a great event shook the
entire continent of Europe. The
The true, Bible believing Christians,
had always existed, from the very first century.
But the Reformation started something new.
The German nobles took the side of Martin Luther against the pope, and it began a political revolution as well as a religious
Starting with Germany, and moving to England,
and the Netherlands, this new idea took hold. People began to think, "We should be a free people, to serve Jesus Christ
in obedience to the true Gospel."
All of the Reformers had been members of the
Roman clergy. They began to read the Bible, and learned what the Gospel message really is. They began to preach
the Gospel as it is in the Bible. And to do that, they had to rebel against the religious tyranny that had ruled the
world for so many centuries. They put their lives on the line. The political setup of the world was shaken.
The entire history of the world was shaken.
News of these events reached the remote Waldensian
homes in the Piedmont mountains. The barbas sent Barba Martin of the town of Lucerna to investigate. He returned
from his journey with a good report. The Gospel was being preached in Germany, in Switzerland, and France. The
same Gospel the Waldensians
had believed and held true to since the first
A city in Switzerland, named
Geneva, seemed to be the center of activity for this movement, and two Barbas were sent to Geneva
to meet and greet the Reformers there.
The meeting was looked upon as a miracle by
both sides. To the Reformers, here was a church that had been preserved in the pure Gospel from the first Christian
century. The Waldensians and and the Reformers greeted each other with great joy.
These two Barbas were arrested on their way
home. One of them was burned alive in the town of Dijon.
In 1532, Sept 12, two years later, there was
historic meeting in the small town of Chanforan in the Angrogna Valley. This came to be known as the Synod of
The Waldensians embraced the brothers and sisters
in Christ who were just coming out of the religious darkness that had ruled for centuries.
The Reformers embraced a people who had known
the true Gospel from the very beginning.
You have been told that the Roman Church was
the first and only Christian church.
That is not true.
The Waldensians heard the pure Gospel in the
They had the Bible from the first century,
and refused to depart from its holy teachings of Christ's Redemption.
The Roman Church was begun by Emperor Constantine
312 AD. He set it up along the existing
political structure. The office of Pontifex Maximus, "high priest", had always been held by the leader of the religion
of Mithra. Constantine filled the now vacant office with a bishop who didn't mind living in luxury and power next to
the emperor. That's where the papacy came from. Jesus Christ had nothing to do with it.
In the following years, the Roman church compromised
more and more, until it no longer believed in the the Redeeming power of the death and resurection of Christ. Jesus was the
resurrected Son of God, but you had to go to someone else to get your sins forgiven.
When these apostates saw the defiance of the
Waldensians, who insisted on believing the Bible instead of the Roman church, their
hatred and jealousy against them led to the
wars and persecutions that lasted over a thousand years.
This article is indebted to the work of "THE
YOUNG REFORMER" Published by The PROTESTANT ALLIANCE, Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Scott-Pearson.
77Ampthill Road, Filtwick, Bedford, MK45 1BD