Remembered by Their Enemies
“Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before all men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:15, 16
Most of what we know about the early Waldensians comes from the reports of those who wanted to accuse and eliminate them. These reports have become for us testimonies to a group of Christians who risked all for their beliefs in teaching the Bible, and in living a Christian life. Though persecution became fierce, their opponents did not prevail. The Waldensians have carried their light now for almost 800 years.
A 13th-century “police report” by an inquisitor. Taken from Church archives found in Carcassone, France.
THE POOR OF LYONS HAD THEIR ORIGINS around the year 1170, founded by a certain Lyonese citizen by the name of Vadensius or Valdenses, after whom his followers took their name. The person in question was a rich man but, abandoning all his wealth, he determined to observe a life of poverty and evangelical perfection, as the Apostles. He arranged for the Gospels and some other books of the Bible to be translated in common speech; also some texts of Saints Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose, and Gregory, arranged under titles which he called “sentences,” and which he read very often, though without understanding their import. Infatuated with himself, he usurped the prerogatives of the Apostles by presuming to preach the Gospel in the streets, where he made many disciples, and involving them, both men and women, in a like presumption by sending them out, in turn, to preach.
These people, ignorant and illiterate, went about through the towns, entering houses and even ...