NINE HUNDRED TO TEN HUNDRED A.D.
The Woman in The Wilderness
Investigators made a report to Louis XII,
king of France, that "They had visited all the parishes where they (Waldenses)
dwelt, and had inspected their places of worship, but that they had found no
images, nor signs of the ornaments belonging to the mass, nor any of the
ceremonies of the Roman Church; much less could they discover any traces of
those crimes with which they were charged. On the contrary, they kept the
Sabbath day, observed the ordinance of baptism according to the primitive
church, instructed their children in the articles of the Christian faith and the
commandments of God." -- Jones' Church History, p. 260.
"Whosoever refuses to curse, to swear, to lie,
to kill, to commit adultery, to steal, to be revenged of his enemy, they say he
is a Vaudois, and therefore they put him to death.'" -- Voltaire's Gen.
Hist., chap. 69.
"An ancient inquisitor, to whose writings
against the Waldenses I had occasion to refer in a former section, thus
describes them. `These Heretics are known by their manners and conversation, for
they are orderly and modest in their behavior and deportment. They avoid all
appearance of pride in their dress. They neither indulge in finery of attire nor
are they remarkable for being mean and ragged. They avoid commerce, that they
may be free from deceit and falsehood. They get their livelihood by manual
industry, as daylaborers or mechanics; and their teachers are weavers or
tailors. They are not anxious about amassing riches; but content themselves with
the necessities of life. They are chaste, temperate, and sober. They abstain
from anger. Even when they work, they either learn or teach. In like manner,
also, their women are modest, avoiding backbiting, foolish jesting, and levity
of speech, especially abstaining from lies or swearing, not so much as making
use of the common asseverations, `in truth,' `for certain,' or the like, because
they regard these as oaths, contenting themselves with simply answering `yes' or
`no.'" -- Jones' Church History, pp. 258, 259.
"Alluding to the churches of the Waldenses in
Piedmont, and those scattered throughout the diocese of Italy, he (Claudius
Seisselius, archbishop of Turin), tells us that the most cruel persecutions had
not been able to extripate them, or hinder them from a constant defense of that
doctrine which they had received from their ancestors." -- Idem, p. 246.
Peter Allix, in his history of the Churches of
Piedmont, chapter 28, page 323, mentions the name as "The Church of
God." In chapter 25, page 288, he again mentions the "Church of
God." It will be observed that the people called by the world "Waldenses,"
were driven by Rome into the Piedmont valleys.
"There was no kingdom of Southern and Central
Europe to which these missionaries did not find their way, and where they did
not leave traces of their visit by the disciples whom they made. On the west
they penetrated into Spain. In Southern France they found congenial fellow
laborers in the Albigenses, by whom the seeds of truth were plentifull scattered
over Dauphine and Languedoc. On the east, descending the Rhine and the Danube,
they leavened Germany, Bohemia, and Poland with their doctrines, their track
being marked with the edifices for worship and the stakes of martyrdom that
arose around their steps. Even the Seven-hilled City they feared not to enter,
scattering the seed on ungenial soil, if perchance some of it might take root
and grow. Their naked feet and coarse woolen garments made them somewhat marked
figures in the streets of a city that clothed itself in purple and fine linen;
and when their errand was discovered, as sometimes chanced, the rulers of
Christendom took care to further, in their own way, the springing of the seed,
by watering it with the blood of the men who had sowed it.
"Thus did the Bible in those ages, veiling its
majesty and its mission, travel silently through Christendom, entering homes and
hearts, and there making its abode.
"From her lofty seat Rome looked down with
contempt upon the Book and its humble bearers. She aimed at bowing the necks of
kings, thinking if they were obedient, meaner men would not dare to revolt; and
so she took little heed of a power which, weak as it seemed, was destined at a
future day to break in pieces the fabric of her dominion.
"By and by she began to be uneasy, and to have
a boding of calamity. The penetrating eye of Innocent III detected the quarter
whence danger was to arise. He saw in the labors of these humble men the
beginning of a movement which, if permitted to go on and gather strength, would
one day sweep away all that it had taken the toils and intrigues of centuries to
achieve. He straightway commenced those terrible crusades which wasted the
sowers, but watered the seed, and helped to bring on, at its appointed hour, the
catastrophe which he sought to avert." -- Wylie, History of the Waldenses,
pp. 22, 23.
Of the persecution against the Vaudois of La Guardia,
Wylie says: "Enticing the inhabitants outside the gates, and placing
soldiers in ambush, they succeeded in getting into their power upwards of
sixteen hundred persons. Of these, seventy were . . . tortured, in the hope of
compelling them to accuse themselves of practicing shameful crimes in their
religious assemblies. No such confession, however, could the most prolonged
tortures wring from them. 'Stefano Carlino,' says M'Crie, `was tortured till his
bowels gushed out;' and another prisoner, named Verminel, `was kept eight hours
on a horrid instrument called the hell but persisted in denying the atrocious
calumny.' Some were thrown from the tops of towers, or precipitated over cliffs;
others were torn with iron whips, and finally beaten to death with fiery brands;
and others, smeared with pitch, were burned alive." -- Idem, p. 115.
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