Appearance of the Waldensians (Chronology of European History)
Article abstract: The excommunication of the Waldensians from the medieval Catholic Church for preaching heretical beliefs is considered one of the marks of the beginning of the Protestant movement in Europe.
Summary of Event
The first Waldensians advocated a return to the simple type of Christianity reflected in the Gospels, unencumbered with ecclesiastical organization or hierarchical structure. They possibly named themselves after Peter Waldo, a rich merchant of Lyons who in 1176 decided to distribute his wealth to the poor and established a lay order known as “The Poor Men of Lyons.” Other origins of the name Waldensians suggest Vaux, or valleys of Piedmont, where the sect flourished; or Peter of Vaux, a predecessor of Waldo.
According to early accounts, Peter Waldo, after hearing of the Gospels, asked two priests to translate them into everyday language for him. He immersed himself in these translations and resolved to follow the teachings of Christ he found there in a literal fashion. He sold his property, gave the proceeds to the poor, and began begging in the streets. Soon he was joined by many of the uneducated and unlettered poor of Lyons. From this group of followers, the lay order of The Poor Men of Lyons was established. The requirements for admission to the order were “conversion,” accompanied by a turning away from worldly pursuits, divesting self of personal property and vocation,...
(The entire section is 1350 words.)
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