THE VAUDOIS OF PIEDMONT.
VAUDOIS OF PIEDMONT:
A Visit to their Valleys,
WITH A SKETCH OF THEIR REMARKABLE HISTORY AS A CHURCH AND PEOPLE
TO THE PRESENT DATE.
With Map of the Valleys.
REV. J. N. WORSFOLD, M.A.,
Vicar of Christ Church, Somers Town, London.
"TRITUNTUR MALLEI REMANET INCUS."
J. F. SHAW & CO., 48, PATERNOSTER ROW.
An eminent living scholar, Dr. Tischendorf, has remarked, that in these days there is need of "little books on great subjects." It was something of that feeling which led me to the idea of supplementing the large and learned works of Muston, Monastier, Gilly, and others, by a pocket volume, so small that the tourist might not feel it an incumbrance, and yet so comprehensive, that those who have not the leisure for larger works, might obtain useful knowledge of the Waldenses.
Whether I shall have succeeded in this aim the public must judge.
I may, however, add that the absorbing nature of my parochial work has prevented my doing justice to the subject, from a literary point of view, and, therefore, I must ask my readers to kindly think of it merely as an earnest desire to diminish somewhat of the lack of information which I have discovered even among educated and benevolent persons, with regard to the history and ecclesiastical character of the Vaudois.
And, secondly, to evoke help towards their work generally, but especially to call out contributions, by means of which a MEMORIAL CHURCH may be erected near the site of the ancient college of the Vaudois, at Pra del Tor, Val Angrogna, and so still further illustrate the accuracy of the ancient motto of the Vaudois, "The hammers are broken, the anvil remains."
"TRITUNTUR MALLEI REMANET INCUS."
13, Oakley Square, N.W., July, 1873.
CHAPTER I. Page THE JOURNEY AND ITS MOTIVE 1-5
THE WHEREABOUTS OF THE VALLEYS, AND TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURES 6-8
ORIGIN AND ANTIQUITY OF THE WALDENSES AS A DISTINCT COMMUNITY 9-13
CREED AND ORGANIZATION OF THE WALDENSIAN CHURCH 14-22
THE BEGINNING OF PAPAL PERSECUTIONS 23-27
THE SPIRITUAL CONDITION OF THE WALDENSES FROM THE RISE OF THE ROMAN INQUISITION TO THAT OF THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION 28-37
PEACE BETWEEN FRANCE AND SPAIN INITIATES THE SECOND GREAT PERSECUTION OF THE VAUDOIS.—THEIR LOYALTY AND THEIR CONDITION DOWN TO A.D. 1655 38-44
"THE BLOODY PASCHA"—LOYALTY EVEN BEYOND THE POWER OF PERFIDY AND PERSECUTION TO QUENCH.—REVOCATION OF THE EDICT OF NANTES.—THE CRIMES OF LOUIS XIV. INVOLVES THE VALLEYS IN TROUBLE, EVEN GREATER THAN BEFORE.—TREACHERY OF GABRIEL OF SAVOY.—EXILE 45-51
RORA AND JANAVELLO 52-62
THE VALLEYS REGAINED UNDER HENRI ARNAUD 63-89
THE VAUDOIS FROM THEIR RETURN TO THE FRENCH REVOLUTION, AND THE RESTORATION OF THE HOUSE OF SAVOY TO THEIR DOMINIONS 90-95
THE VAUDOIS FROM THE RESTORATION TO THE EDICT OF EMANCIPATION 96-103
THE WALDENSIAN CHURCH, FROM THE GENERAL PEACE TO THE DATE OF VISITS FROM DR. GILLY AND GENERAL BECKWITH 104-113
WALDENSIAN CHURCH PROGRESS IN ITS OWN VALLEYS, FROM 1827 TO 1848 114-119
THE CHURCH OF THE VALLEYS AS THE EVANGELIST OF ITALY.—ITS HOME CLAIMS AND NEEDS 120-130
THE VAUDOIS OF PIEDMONT.
Early on the morning of Easter Monday, 1871, in company with a devoted Italian pastor, I left my temporary home in the comfortable "Grand Hotel," in the little town of Pallanza, to gratify a long-felt desire of visiting that part of Europe made sacred by ages of heroic suffering and courageous endurance for faith and fatherland—the valleys of Piedmont. As we steamed up the lake Maggiore the thin mist of early morn cleared off, and by the time we had passed the far-famed Borromean Islands the eye was ravished with the scenes of beauty on every side. Trees and flowers bloomed forth in the lovely vesture of an Italian spring, and the hills, villas, and gardens on the shores of the lake were imaged forth as in a mirror on its own fair bosom.
In this reverie of delight our boat landed us at Arona, where we disembarked and entered the train for Turin. We reached the latter city in about three hours, and after a short delay at the refreshment-room, called upon the Vaudois pastor, the Rev. J. P. Meille, who received us most kindly, and showed us over the stately temple belonging to his church, situated in one of the best streets (the Corso del Re), and which, by its imposing character, as compared with the general simplicity of the Vaudois ecclesiastical buildings, fitly illustrates their altered circumstances as a Church and a community—no longer persecuted, plundered, proscribed, and down-trodden!
The erection of this building was indeed the first public and palpable evidence that the era of political and religious liberty for the Waldenses, inaugurated by the edict of emancipation, dated February 17th, 1848, was really to be enjoyed by them. Its foundations were laid on the 29th October, 1851, by a solemn ceremonial. Delegates from the table of the Vaudois Church, the consistory of Turin, and all the representatives of Protestant states, together with a numerous concourse of sympathizers and lookers-on, were present. This great innovation upon the long reign of intolerance was not accomplished without considerable effort. In the first place, it was necessary to obtain the authorization of the government, and this was the more difficult from the circumstance that liberty of conscience and public worship were not formally inscribed on the "Statuto," so that the government might have refused the authorization, and yet not have violated the strict letter of the law. Happily, however, the president of the council of ministers at that time was the Count Cavour, whose influence procured the necessary permission. Many attempts, however, were made to undo this concession, and even when the royal sanction had been obtained these efforts were so numerous and influential that nothing but the proverbial justice of the sovereign, and the constancy of his minister, availed to secure success. The last piece of opposition to the desire of the Vaudois and their friends was made by a man whose name remained as the living incarnation of the former regime, the Count Solaro Margherita, who, during the long years under the reign of Charles Albert, had held the helm of the state, and was completely in bondage to the Jesuits. Though infirm in body, he betook himself to the presence of the successor of his ancient master, and falling on his knees, said to him, "Sire, do not refuse one of the most faithful servants of your dynasty the last favour that he will ask of you before he quits this earth, viz., that you do not allow the good and loyal city of Turin to have the grief and shame of seeing erected within its walls an edifice set apart for the preaching of heresy." (See MEILLE'S Life of Gen. Beckwith.) The king referred the suppliant to his ministers, who never dreamt of recalling their decision, and the good work proceeded. So that within a little over two years from its commencement the dedication of the temple took place, on the 15th of December, 1853. There was a great gathering of all ranks of society, including the greater portion of the diplomatique body resident in Turin, the senators, the deputies, a delegation from the national guard of the city with their officers at their head. This last circumstance seems to have given special umbrage to the more bigoted Romanists, inasmuch as their organ, L'Armonia, wrote as follows:—"The 15th of December will be written among the most disgraceful in the annals of Piedmont—the Eighth Anniversary of the Immaculate Conception, and the Valdesi have appointed it as the day for the solemn opening of the Protestant temple." And it goes on to say, those who have ordered the national guard to take part in the ceremony "have attempted to dishonour the city militia."
But gratifying as it was to me to contemplate this sacred edifice, yet we were anxious not to lose time in reaching the valleys, so we left by the afternoon train for Pinerolo, a town of ominous memories as regards its past connection with its Protestant neighbours. Missionaries, monks, and soldiers have often started forth from this point to molest or destroy those whose virtues they should rather have endeavoured to imitate. The last enterprise of this kind was brought about by the instigation of Archbishop Charvaz of Pinerolo, during the years 1840-1844.
From the railway station at Pinerolo we changed our conveyance, and took a seat on the outside of the diligence for La Torre. On our way we passed the small towns of San Secondo, celebrated as the place where a Christian martyr suffered in the third century, Bricherasio, where deeds of violence were perpetrated against those whose forefathers owned the soil from which their children have been long excluded. Although the shades of evening were closing over us ere we finished our journey, yet we could not fail to be impressed with the nature of the territory to which we were drawing nigh. Monte Viso reared its snow-crested cone with a seeming sense of its majesty. It has been beautifully described as looking like a pyramid starting out of a sea of mountain ridges, and from certain points of view to surpass even Mont Blanc in grandeur, inasmuch as it stands out in larger space, and so makes a more powerful impression on the senses. Although but 12,000 feet high, no one has been able to scale the summit of its gigantic rocks. "Free from the tread of human foot, it is the Jungfrau of the South, the powerful spirit which watches over our valleys; for in the shade of its granite sides the torch of the gospel found refuge for its light." Full of grand emotions as we neared the spot, our diligence brought us to the little capital, La Torre Pelice, where, under the hospitable roof of the Bear Hotel, we rest for the night.
Before narrating my personal adventures in the valleys, I fancy I may consult the profit of my readers if I give a brief topographical outline of the district of which La Torre is the chief town. It lies about thirty miles south-west of Turin, having Mont Viso and the French province of Dauphiny for its south-western border. Mont Genevre is the extreme point in the north-westerly direction, and from its sides the boundary of the upper portions of the valleys turns in a north-easterly direction along that ridge of the Alps which separates Savoy from Piedmont by the Col de Sestrieres, Fenestrelle, Perousa, down to the plains, including the valleys of Pragela, San Martino, Perousa, Angrogna, and Pelice, or Lucerna, and terminating with the parish of San Giovanni as its most easterly point; though formerly the Vaudois territories extended to the entire valley of the Clusone, and they had several churches in the neighbourhood of Susa, as well as in the principality of Saluzzo to the south-east. However, persecution and confiscation have now reduced them to a tract which is about twenty-two miles in its greatest length by a little over sixteen in its extreme width. Its area may be about three hundred square miles, and as so large a space is covered with mountains, it imposes considerable difficulties in the way of productive cultivation. Its population is about twenty thousand persons, which at one time were almost exclusively Protestant, but the disabilities imposed on the Vaudois (of which we shall speak in another chapter) have compelled many of them to leave their native valleys for France, Germany, America, and other countries, in order to obtain a livelihood. As regards scenery, it is difficult to describe its surpassing loveliness, and certainly no exaggeration to say that the traveller in this district is often favoured by a combination most delightful, viz., the soft luxuriance of Italy in the lower slopes and broader valleys, joined with the wildness and grandeur of Switzerland in the narrower glens and loftier mountain ranges. And this apart from the wealth of its historic glories. In reference to climate, the valleys of Pelice, Angrogna, with Perousa, are warm and productive, those of Martino and Pragela cold and barren. The soil in the mountain parishes yields the same kind of vegetables and corn as are to be found in our North of England parishes; the mountain slopes yield pasturage for cattle, and the higher ridges are covered with the pine, elm, and ash trees. In the lower valleys, particularly in the parishes of San Giovanni, Lucerna, La Torre, you will observe the chestnut, mulberry, and the vine. As to roads and means of communication, there is nothing to complain of, particularly from the month of June to September; though I found it so hot in the month of April as to be obliged to stay in-doors from noon to about four o'clock in the afternoon. As to accommodation for travellers, I can speak well of the Bear Hotel at La Torre; and I have read a good account of the Sun at Perousa, as likewise the Red Rose at Fenestrelle, for passing travellers. Having given the above with a view of answering questions often asked, especially by intending tourists, I return to the story of my own observations in La Torre. The place is not unlike other small towns in the Swiss cantons. There are a fair sprinkling of shops, with post-office, town-hall, and market-place. In the centre of the latter I observed a prominent sun-dial, with the following very appropriate motto, Vita fugit sicut umbra.
THE ORIGIN AND ANTIQUITY OF THE WALDENSES.
After enquiring as to the geographical position of the Waldensian valleys, the next most frequent questions which arise are: Who are the Waldenses? how long have they been in the valleys of Piedmont? what circumstances led to their taking up their abode there? and what has given to their history that peculiar characteristic which makes every detail both of their past and present so intensely interesting to all the lovers of piety and patriotism wherever the story of their high-souled courage or their long-enduring faith has reached? It is to answer these questions, as briefly and yet as accurately as possible, that we address ourselves in this chapter.
And, first of all, we would state very distinctly that there is no ground for believing that their name of Waldenses is taken from that of Peter Waldo, the celebrated merchant of Lyons. Not only because they date their origin centuries before his time, but also because the names they bear of Waldenses, Vaudois, and Valdesi all refer to the place of their abode, and not to that of any individual whose opinions they had embraced, or whose leadership they had followed. It may further be observed, in opposition to the opinion of the Waldenses being named after Peter Waldo, that his second name does not appear as applied to him prior to his condemnation as an heretic; and, moreover, the various ways in which it is written, e.g., sometimes Valdo, sometimes Valdus, at other times Valdesius or Valdensis, shows that the word was not a proper name, but a mere appellative. So with regard to the idea that Vaudois comes from Vaudes, a sorcerer, it would be more correct to say that the term sorcerer was one applied by the inhabitants of the plains to those who were Vaudois, or hill-men, under the notion that the inhabitants of such localities practised sorcery. Hence we are compelled to assume that the name is purely geographical, and applied from time immemorial to the persons living in those valleys of Piedmont which have ever formed part of the Italian territory, and are not to be confounded with the Swiss Canton de Vaud, bearing a name so like because of the similarity of geographical conformation.
In answer to the next question, How long have the Waldenses lived in the locality from which they derive their name? Da ogni tempo, da tempo immemoriale—from all time, from time immemorial—is the claim set up by them in their earliest documents, and repeated over and over again in their petitions to the House of Savoy for liberty of conscience.[A] Nor is there any attempt to refute this claim of antiquity on the part of their princes or their persecutors.
To this statement of the Waldenses themselves we will add corroborative testimony from others.
Their enemies. We begin with Reinerius the Inquisitor, A.D. 1250. He refers to the Waldenses under the term of Leonists, and says that this sect has been of longer continuance (than the others to which he refers), having lasted, some say, from the time of Pope Sylvester (314), and others from the time of the apostles.
Pilichdorf, a writer of the same date, expressly asserts that the Waldenses claimed to have existed from the time of Pope Sylvester, and Claude Seyssel, Archbishop of Turin from the close of the fifteenth century to the beginning of the sixteenth, and whose diocese extended to the valleys of Piedmont, says that the Waldenses took their origin from Leo, a person in the time of ye Emperor Constantine, who, hating the avarice of Pope Sylvester and the immoderate endowment of the Church of Rome, seceded from her communion, and "drew after him all who entertained right sentiments about the Christian religion."
Next in order we may take the testimony of Rorenco, Grand Prior of St. Roch in Turin, and one of the lords of the valley of Luserne. He was commissioned to investigate the history of the "men of the valleys," and published the result of his labours in the year 1632. He says "that the Waldenses were no new sect, but had been in those valleys for more than five or six centuries," and in proof of this remarks further, that "no edict of any prince who gave permission for the introduction of this religion into these parts can be found. Princes only give permission to their subjects to continue in the religion of their ancestors." Cassini, an Italian priest, declares that the tradition handed down was, that "the Waldenses were as ancient as the Christian Church."
Another writer, Henri de Corvie, describes them as men descended from "an ancient race, inhabiting the Alps, and have been always attached to ancient customs." Voltaire, an impartial witness, speaks of the Waldenses as "the remains of the first Christians of Gaul." If it be asked for documentary proof, in the possession of the Waldensians themselves, it should be remembered that Leger, the historian, collected together all that he could find, and that these were taken from him when he was imprisoned in Turin, A.D. 1655. Still, documents of great value and antiquity have been preserved, and among these must be enumerated "The Noble Lesson," a didactic poem of about five hundred lines. Three MSS. of this poem are preserved in the libraries of the Universities of Cambridge, Geneva, and Dublin, and the date assigned is early in the twelfth century. The dialect in which it is written is also considered by some as an unquestionable proof of the high antiquity of the document. For example, the eminent philologist, M. Renouard, writing as a philologist, and not as an historian, remarks that "the dialect of the Vaudois is an idiom intermediate between the decomposition of the language of the Romans and the establishment of a new grammatical system." This philological circumstance shows the extreme earliness of the period at which the Waldenses must have betaken themselves to the Cottian Alps, inasmuch as it proves that they left the Italian plains before the establishment of the new grammatical system referred to by M. Renouard. This is the opinion of Mr. Faber, who contends that "the primevally Latin Vaudois must have retired from the lowlands of Italy to the valleys of Piedmont in the very days of primitive Christianity, and before the breaking up of the Roman empire by the incursions of the Teutonic nations." And this leads to another question. Why did these people leave their homes in the fertile plains and betake themselves to the less temperate climate and the rugged soil of a mountainous region? Plainly there must have been some very urgent cause, and that cause may be readily perceived in the record of the persecutions against the Christians under the Pagan emperors during the second, third, and fourth centuries.
[A] E.G.—In a memorial to Philibert Emmanuel, A.D. 1559, they say, "This religion which we profess is not only ours ... but it was the religion of our fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, and other yet more ancient predecessors of ours, and of the blessed martyrs, confessors, prophets, and apostles; and if any can prove the contrary, we are ready to subscribe and yield thereunto."
We come now to the creed and organization of the Waldensian Church. First, as regards the rule of faith, it expresses its belief in the supremacy of the Word of God in terms precisely identical with the Sixth Article of the Church of England. And, in a document previously referred to, declares, "We do protest before the Almighty and All-just God, before whose tribunal we must all one day appear, that we intend to live and die in the holy faith, piety, and religion of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that we do abhor all heresies that have been and are condemned by the Word of God.
"We do embrace the most holy doctrine of the prophets and apostles, as likewise of the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds. We subscribe to the four councils, and to all the ancient fathers, in all such things as are not repugnant to the analogy of faith." They protest against the assumptions and the encroachments of the papacy much in the same way as do the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England; they also accept the opinions of evangelical Christendom in relation to the fall of man—justification by faith alone; redemption through the merits of the lord Jesus Christ; regeneration by the Holy Spirit; fruitfulness in good works as the necessary result of a living faith; the character of worship acceptable to God; the obligations and privileges of the Lord's day, and of the two sacraments, baptism and the Lord's Supper, as appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and binding upon the grateful observance of His believing people. It is not true, as has sometimes been asserted, that they have ever rejected the practice of infant baptism. They have prepared and enjoined the use of a very sound and full catechism, in which the children of the Waldenses are carefully instructed previous to their admission to the Lord's table.
So far we have sketched the leading points in the creed of the Waldensian Church. We now come to its organization. There seem to have been three epochs, so to speak, in reference to this feature of its history. For some eleven hundred years it remained as a portion of the universal and primitive church, rejecting the encroachments of the papal power, and the corruptions of Christian doctrine which that power imposed, not by authoritative enactments so much as by irregular influences, upon the greater part of the Western Church. During this time the church in the valleys of Piedmont retained that system of church government and worship which had been accepted by most, if not all, sections of the Christian Church in the third and fourth centuries. It was, therefore, during this period that the Waldensian Church enjoyed the privilege of that episcopacy which she never rejected as a matter of principle, but became deprived of by circumstances which gave her no choice. In proof of this I refer to that passage in the letter of Jerome to Riparius respecting Vigilantius, whose zealous and persevering opposition to the worship of saints, images, and relics, &c., had greatly provoked the irascible monk of Bethlehem. "I saw (says Jerome) a short time ago that monster Vigilantius. I would fain have bound this madman by passages of Holy Writ, as Hippocrates advises to confine maniacs with bonds; but he has departed, he has withdrawn, he has hurried away, he has escaped, and from the space between the Alps, where Cottius reigned,[B] and the waves of the Adriatic, his cries have reached me. Oh, infamous! he has found even among the bishops accomplices of his wickedness."
Here then we learn that in the country inhabited by the Waldenses there were bishops opposing the corruption and contending for the priests of the Christian faith. Nor was this confined even to Northern Italy; for we learn that two centuries later Gregory the Great, who was pope from A.D. 590 to 604, censures Seremius, bishop of Marseilles, for not only forbidding the adoration of images (which Gregory says he would have commended), but for actually destroying the images themselves. Towards the middle of the eighth century the prelates of the Gallican Church especially distinguished themselves by their determined opposition to such doctrines as the worship of images and relics, masses for the dead, purgatory, celibacy of the priests, supremacy of the popes, &c., errors inculcated, it would seem, by the English monk Boniface, who has been called the apostle of Germany.
The correspondence between Pope Zachary and Boniface further reveals the existence of a Christian community in Germany, holding a faith more evangelical, and observing a ritual more scriptural, than that which Rome was seeking to impose; e.g., Zachary says in his tenth letter: "As for the priests, whom your fraternity report to have found (who are more numerous than the Catholics (sic) wandering about disguised under the name of bishops or priests, not ordained by Catholic (i.e., Romish) bishops, who deceive the people) ... they are false vagabonds," &c.
But the most interesting proof of the existence of evangelical resistance to popish corruption is that afforded by the conduct of Claude, bishop of the metropolitical see of Turin, and in such close proximity to those valleys whose history we are considering.
Claude, bishop of Turin, was a native of Spain, and so incidentally brings to mind the remembrance of the fact that Spain, too, had upon her soil in days gone by those who loved "to worship God in sincerity and truth." He was chosen by Louis the Meek for the bishopric of Turin, on the ground of his scriptural piety and evangelical eloquence. Being attacked by Jonas, bishop of Orleans, and others, he defended himself with great ability; and in reply to the charge that he was seeking to establish a new sect, he answers, "I, who remain in the unity of the Church, and proclaim the truth, aim at forming no new sect; but, as far as lies in my power, I repress sects, schisms, superstitions, and heresies; I have combated, overthrown, and crushed them, and, by God's assistance, I shall not cease to do so to the utmost." These words of Claude, "I repress sects," seem clearly to imply that in the diocese of Turin disaffection to Romish innovation had a recognized existence, and definite, though not of necessity an independent, organization; and that Claude, standing firm upon the platform "of the faith once delivered to the saints" as the true centre of unity, was attaching to himself all those whose principles were analogous to the ancient church of the valleys. And I think we may fairly assume that the fifteen years' episcopate of so distinguished a prelate must have given a great assistance to that portion of his people who sought "to stand in the old ways." Indeed the Marquis de Beauregard, in his Historic Memoirs, expressly states that this bishop had a great number of adherents, that they were anathematized by the pope, persecuted by the lay princes, chased from the open country, and so forced to take refuge in the mountains, where they have kept their ground from that time, always checked, but always endeavouring to extend themselves. (Vol. ii. p. 50.)
After the time of Claude, however, the connection of the church in the valleys with that to which it originally belonged became probably less and less distinct, owing to the more decided growth of corruption and the extension of papal influence, so that, as regards the greater portion of Europe, primitive faith and practice was submerged by papal superstition and tyranny. Therefore about this time, as appears from the Waldensian book entitled Antichrist, the church of the valleys entered on what we call its second epoch, and became isolated as regards organization, though not as regards doctrine, from the earlier church. This epoch may be regarded as reaching down to about the seventeenth century. I fix upon this date because of the remarkable providence which befell the Vaudois Church in 1630.
This was none other than a pestilential visitation brought into the valleys by the French troops, who were at this time occupying the valleys. By this terrible plague some ten thousand of the Vaudois perished, including twelve pastors. Only three pastors being now left, application was made to Geneva for assistance, and pastors being sent from thence introduced a polity which was Presbyterian rather than Episcopalian. Still the marked deference to authority, the succession of the ministers elected by their predecessors from time to time, the orderly administration of the sacraments, the use of the creeds and of a liturgy, the entire absence of any protest against the orders of the ministry customary in the early church, while so much is so pointedly said respecting corruptions of doctrine, clearly sustain the inference that the Waldensian Church adapted herself to the form of organization adopted by the reformed churches of the continent not from choice, but from such a concurrence of circumstances as completely vindicates her from any wilful departure from the traditions of her earlier history.
It was at this time also, and from the circumstance that the pastors supplied from Geneva could only officiate in the French tongue, that the French language was used in worship.
This brings me to notice the organization of the Waldensian Church as it now exists, and has existed for the last two hundred years. The full and formal confession of faith is that which was agreed upon by the synod of 1655, and confirmed in the years 1839 and 1855.
The Evangelical Waldensian Church, in its widest sense, embraces all those churches whom God in His mercy has condescended to preserve from time immemorial, and subject to numberless persecutions in the valleys of the Italian Alps. It also includes those churches which have been more recently added. As regards organization, the Waldensian is subdivided into parishes, and is governed by means of a general assembly of the parish, a consistory, synod, and table.
The general assembly of the parish is composed of all the members of the church, being men who are twenty-five years of age. To this assembly belongs (a) the nomination of the pastors; (b) the deputies to synod; (c) the elders and deacons; (d) the initiative of any proposal for altering the constitution of the church.
It is always presided over by the pastor, or, in his unavoidable absence, by a member of the consistory chosen for the purpose.
The Consistory is composed of the pastor, who presides, the elders, and the deacons, the last of whom have only a deliberative vote. Its functions are to provide for the spiritual wants of the parish, and also the poor and sick; to assist in the distribution of the elements at the administration of the Holy Communion; to nominate the teachers and superintend the schools, either wholly or in association with the communal council; also to administer church discipline; distribute parochial charities and funds for religious purposes. On this behalf each consistory appoints its own treasurer.
The Synod is the representative assembly of the Vaudois Church, and consists of all recognized pastors and certain laymen chosen by the parishes. It takes cognizance of every matter affecting the welfare and duties of the church; it alters, adds, or abolishes all rules and regulations connected with its administration or discipline; it directs the course of theological study and admission to the ministry; it nominates the members of the table or any special bodies of commissioners for particular occasions; it superintends all evangelic work, whether in the valleys or its numerous mission stations in other places. It now meets yearly, but in former times its meetings were seldom, and were attended by a representative of the civil power.
THE TABLE is the executive of the Vaudois Church, and consists of five members, the moderator, assistant moderator, and secretary being pastors, with two laymen. The table is appointed by the synod from year to year, and responsible to that body in respect of its operations.
The officers of the Vaudois Church are pastors, evangelists, elders, and deacons. To exercise the office of pastor a person must be set apart by the laying on of hands, previous to which he must ([alpha]) have attained the age of twenty-three, ([beta]) have the requisite gifts for the work of the ministry, ([gamma]) be of irreproachable character, ([delta]) receive a certificate from his university or other place of education, ([epsilon]) profess convictions in harmony with the doctrines and discipline of the Vaudois Church. These points are decided by the table, in concert with the whole body of the pastors of the church. Furthermore, a pastor is not allowed to have the sole care of a parish before he has reached the age of twenty-five years.
It is not necessary to speak of the functions of the evangelists, as the name itself is explicit, and the office one common to all evangelical churches, although denominated by a different title, e.g. catechist, reader, lay missionary.
The elders are lay members of the church of well-known religious character, residing in the parish, and not receiving any benefit from the funds they may be called upon to administer. At an election of an elder for the first time he is required before installation to undergo an examination by a commission from the consistory of his own parish, assisted by a pastor from the nearest adjoining parish. The elder is chosen for life, unless he voluntarily resigns, or falls into a breach of church discipline, or becomes incapacitated by failing health; in the latter case, however, he retains the title of honorary elder.
The deacons must have much the same qualifications as the elders. They are elected for five years, and their special work is the care of the sick and needy. In addition to a zealous observance of the Lord's-day, the Waldensian Church pays a religious regard to Christmas-day, New-year's-day, Ascension-day, and Good Friday, which last it keeps with great solemnity as a fast-day common to the whole Church of Christ.
[B] The Cottian Alps are to the north of Mount Viso, and among them are the valleys of the Waldenses.
THE BEGINNING OF PAPAL PERSECUTIONS.
"We kept Thy faith 'gainst kings of might, And potentates infernal; We kept Thy faith in Rome's despite, By help of grace supernal. The foe was fierce, the war was long; But oh! our helper was more strong, Our lover was eternal."
During the struggles of the papacy for temporal aggrandizement and political usurpation, which marked its character from the seventh to the twelfth centuries, anything so religious as even the attempt to convert heretics by fire and sword seems little attended to. But in the twelfth century arose the epoch in which men were to be thrown into a burning fiery furnace who would not bow down to the tyranny of him who sat enthroned in the city of the seven hills. Otho IV., Emperor of Germany by favour of the pope, first gave his sanction to the persecution of the Waldenses, at the instigation of James, bishop of Turin, about the end of the 12th century.[C] But the first systematic persecution began under the regency exercised by Yolande, widow of Amadeus IX., Duke of Savoy, A.D. 1475. The expression (in her directions to the governors of Pinerolo, Cavour, and the magistrate at Lucerna), "It is our pleasure that the inhabitants of the valley of Lucerna especially may be able to enter into the bosom of the holy mother church," would seem to recognize the fact that the Vaudois were a community independent of Rome, otherwise we should expect the word return, which is so generally used in reference to heretics, as the Church of Rome delights to stigmatize all who reject her sway. This edict of Yolande led to the martyrdom of Vaudois pastors, some by fire, some by hanging, some in ways more revolting and excruciating, at Turin and other places. But the destruction of a few victims would not satisfy the malignant spirit of the papal antichrist, therefore the work of persecution must be organized on a larger scale. Innocent VIII. selected Albert de Capitaneis, Archdeacon of Cremona, as his agent for the accomplishment of this pious design.
"One of the saintly murderous brood, To carnage and the crosier given, Who think through unbelievers' blood Lies their directest path to heaven."
(MOORE, slightly altered.)
The papal bull initiating this work of shame promised to all who should engage in it "plenary indulgence, with remission of their sins once and at the hour of death." It also gave permission to appropriate the lands and goods of the heretics. All along the valley of the Po, and over the regions of the Cottian Alps, the bull of Innocent was talked of. Charles VIII. of France and Charles II. of Savoy sanctioned its design. The year 1488 marks an era of suffering for the Vaudois and of infamy to Rome.
Some 18,000 soldiers responded to the call of De Capitaneis. He forms them into two bodies. One proceeds to devastate Dauphine and the district near from the west, while the other division, attacking from Piedmont, is to ravage the east; and as the two bodies approach each other they aim to enclose their victims, and so to prevent their escape. These victims were all unprepared for the vengeance which impended. Engaged in peaceful tillage, they had no means of defence, but fled to the rocks and caves, where their persecutors followed them, and being unable to reach them in their retreats, they piled up fuel at the mouths of the caverns, and so compelled the Vaudois to choose between death by suffocation or the sword.
By such conduct some 3000 persons, including 400 young children, perished in the vale of Loyse. The Val Pragela also suffered much. But in the Clusone, after the first feelings of surprise had passed away, the inhabitants successfully repulsed their invaders. In the valley of Lucerna, San Giovanni, La Torre, Villaro Bobbio, and their hamlets, fell into the hands of the enemy. Still their career was sometimes checked by successful resistance, and deserved retribution. An example of this occurred to a detachment numbering some 700 Piedmontese troops, who were attempting to surprise the valley of San Martino by way of the Col Juliano. This body of soldiers, on reaching Pommiers, was attacked with such vigour and determination by the inhabitants of Prali, that only one of their number escaped destruction. This was an ensign, who concealed himself under a mass of snow, which had been excavated by the summer heat. Cold and hunger eventually compelled him to descend and ask mercy from those whom he had come to destroy. His petition was granted, and he was allowed to depart with the news of the defeat and destruction of his companions.
After this humiliating repulse, the invaders sought to attack the vale of Angrogna, as being the heart and centre of the valleys, and the place of refuge and defence to their threatened inhabitants.
Indeed, the Vaudois, unable to contend with the enemy's troops in the plains, had betaken themselves (as many as could) to that natural fortress, the Pra del Torre, which God had provided in the upper part of the Val Angrogna. I shall have much to say about this sacred and glorious spot—the more than a Thermopylae to these Christian heroes, ennobled by a bravery equal to that of the Spartan, but radiant with brighter memories. But here I only digress to add that the invaders' attempt to get possession of this valley from the heights of Roccamanente were happily frustrated. The Vaudois had to endure a severe contest, for which they prepared themselves by prayer. Their enemies, with their leader, seeing them on their knees, ridiculed their piety and threatened their destruction. But Le Noir of Mondovi, himself having raised his visor on account of the heat, and to show his contempt for his adversaries, was mortally wounded between his eyes by an arrow. His companions were so terrified that they retreated with great loss. The enemy, however, irritated and ashamed, renewed the attack from another position on the side of Rocciaglia. They sought to enter the Pra del Torre by a narrow defile. At this moment a thick fog so confused them that they were afraid to move lest they should run into danger. The Angrognians, emboldened by this interposition of Providence, issued forth from their retreats, and by means of their knowledge of the locality cut off the escape of their enemies, and forced them over the precipitous rocks into the foaming torrent, where large numbers perished, including a man of gigantic size named Saquet, whose eventful death has caused the pool in which he fell to be called Tompi Saquet.
After similar attempts in other parts of the valleys, during which time much blood was shed, this first of the great persecutions, which had lasted a year, ended in 1489, by Charles II., Prince of Piedmont and Duke of Savoy, who felt ashamed of the cruelties which were inflicted.
[C] Monastier gives some very interesting information on the persecution of the Vaudois out of Piedmont (chap. xiv.), which lies beyond the scope of this volume.
Although the story of the long-continued and heroically endured sufferings of the Vaudois may have been the most prominent thought in the minds of those who recall their history, yet it is at least to the Christian as important to remember their works of faith and labours of love in the cause of Christ. Indeed were it not for the latter we should never have known the former. It would seem as if the missionary zeal of the Waldenses was one of the chief causes (or at least occasions) of the persecutions which they endured. Hence Bernard de Foucald (Monastier History), a writer of the twelfth century, says, "These Waldenses, although condemned by Pope Lucius II., continued to pour forth, with daring effrontery, far and wide all over the world, the poison of their perfidy."
Indeed a church whose motto was a burning torch, and whose directory that sacred word which counsels the followers of Christ to "let their light shine before men," was not likely to be content with possessing the truth merely for itself. So we learn that in the distribution of the funds contributed by the church a portion was assigned to the purpose of maintaining a body of pastors for the foreign work. These pastors being trained and set apart by the barbes for the work of the ministry were named by the synod for their special sphere of labour. The work of preparation for the ministry involved the learning by heart of the first and fourth gospels, the whole of the canonical epistles, and a large portion of the Old Testament. The missionaries to foreign churches generally remained abroad for two years. Although this work was one of danger, no reluctance to undertake it was evinced. This shows the power of the gospel in their hearts, as well as the deference shown by the younger pastors to their seniors in the ministry of the Word and sacraments. As a rule it would seem that the synod despatched their missionaries two and two. Thus, following the example of the great Head of the Church, and providing for the necessities of the times, one of the two was selected as more or less acquainted with the character of the places and persons they were about to visit.
The mode in which the Waldensian missionaries laboured illustrated at times the wisdom of the serpent as well as the harmlessness of the dove; e.g., they obtained access to the higher classes in the character of pedlars. Having displayed their goods, chiefly of an ornamental kind, and a purchase had been concluded, if the pedlar were asked, "Have you anything else for sale?" he would reply, "I have jewels far more precious than these, and if you will not betray me to the clergy I will make you a present of them." Being answered satisfactorily on this point, he would proceed to say, "I have a pearl so brilliant that by means of it one may learn to know God; I have another so splendid that it kindles the love of God in the heart of him who possesses it." And then he would proceed to quote various portions of Scripture.
The following verses from a modern poet happily describes one of these incidents—
"'O, lady fair! I have yet a gem, Which a purer lustre flings Than the diamond flash of the jewelled crown On the lofty brow of kings; A wonderful pearl of exceeding price, Whose virtue shall not decay; Whose light shall be as a spell to thee, And a blessing on thy way.'
"The lady glanced at the mirroring steel, Where her youthful form was seen, Where her eyes shone clear, and her dark locks waved Their clasping pearls between; 'Bring forth thy pearl of exceeding worth, Thou traveller grey and old; And name the price of thy precious gem, And my pages shall count thy gold.'
"The cloud went off from the pilgrim's brow, As a small and meagre book, Unchased with gold or diamond gem, From his folding robe he took: 'Here, lady fair, is the pearl of price; May it prove as such to thee! Nay, keep thy gold—I ask it not— FOR THE WORD OF GOD IS FREE.'
"The hoary traveller went his way, But the gift he left behind Hath had its pure and perfect work On that high-born maiden's mind; And she hath turned from her pride of sin To the lowliness of truth, And given her human heart to God In its beautiful hour of youth.
"And she hath left the old grey walls, Where an evil faith hath power, The courtly knights of her father's train, And the maidens of her bower; And she hath gone to the Vaudois Vale, By lordly feet untrod, Where the poor and needy of earth are rich In the perfect love of God!"
But another mode of spreading the gospel in distant parts was by colonizing. This measure was forced upon the Waldenses by the cruelties to which they were exposed in the South of France. Their earliest colonies (A.D. 1340) were at Apulia and Calabria, and in Liguria. The lords of the soil in Southern Italy permitted them to settle on favourable terms. They built several towns, such as Oltromontani, grew in temporal prosperity, and lived in peace for many years. As regards ecclesiastical matters, they maintained direct communion with their brethren in the valleys, who supplied them with pastors. These pastors, in their journeys backwards and forwards, visited their faithful brethren scattered throughout Italy. The barbes, indeed, possessed a house in each of the cities of Florence, Genoa, and Venice. As regards numbers, it is not unlikely that the Waldenses in Italy, France, and Germany at this time (the close of the fourteenth century) were about eight hundred thousand. Venice alone contained six thousand Vaudois, it is said, at this time. But this state of external peacefulness continued only for a time. The very superiority of the Vaudois to their neighbours attracted attention to their religious peculiarities. The Romish clergy complained "that they did not live like other people in matters of religion; that they made none of their children priests or nuns; that they did not concern themselves about chants, wax tapers, lights, bells, or even masses for the dead; that they had no images in their temples," &c. All this criticism was intensified by the news of that great reformation of the sixteenth century, which awakened alike the fears and the rage of Rome, and sent forth her legionaries everywhere like blood-hounds keenly on the scent for the tracks of heresy.
They were not long before they met with the evidences of a purer faith than that of the pope's in the sunny regions south of the Tiber. The Waldenses in Calabria had heard of the revived faith and growing zeal of their brethren in Piedmont. They determined, like them, to lay aside all concealment of their religious profession, and openly to proclaim their heart-deep convictions as to the vital principles of the gospel of Christ. As a means of a higher and truer confession of Christ, they sought a colleague for their pastor, Etienne Negrin (who was from the valleys), from Geneva. A young Piedmontese, Jean Louis Pascal, was just then finishing his studies at Lausanne. Brought up as a papist and a soldier, he renounced his former creed and profession for that of the gospel of Christ. Nor was it without cost of another kind he undertook the perilous work of the ministry in Calabria. He was engaged in marriage to Camilla Guerina, and in setting out for Italy (though unconsciously to themselves, perhaps) they parted for ever as regards this world.
His ministry was greatly blessed in Calabria. The light so often placed under a bushel was elevated conspicuously by the candlestick of his labours. But while believers rejoiced, superstitious bigots raved. The Marquis Spinello, chief proprietor in the Vaudois colony, alarmed for his credit with the clergy, and contrary to his former kindness, sends for the principal offenders, including the pastor and his friend, Marco Uscegli. The two latter were cast into prison, and the former dismissed with threatenings. This happened about 1558 or 1559, and was followed by more determined measures of the bishop of the diocese and the pope. The latter deputed Cardinal Alexandrin, inquisitor general, to extirpate heresy in the kingdom of Naples. All attempts failing to induce attendance at mass, they were pursued by soldiers, and obliged to make an armed resistance, which led to the flight of their assailants. After a few days the Vaudois, who had fled to the woods, were hunted by dogs. Nearly all were captured or killed on the spot. Those captured were tortured in the most horrible way to extort confessions of misdeeds which their enemies had fabricated. One Bernard Conte, who had thrown away a crucifix forced into his hands, was daubed with pitch, and then set on fire. Their sufferings are too many and revolting to recount. Let it suffice to add that the bodies of the victims were so numerous as to line the roads for a distance of thirty-six miles, being placed on stakes for that purpose from Montalto to Chateau-Vilar. The pastor, Etienne Negrin, was either tortured or starved to death. But Pascal was reserved for a more public immolation. On the 9th of September, 1560, an immense crowd assembled in the courtyard of the castle of St. Angelo. A scaffold had been erected close by with a pile of faggots. A stage with seats furnished suitably for the use of the pope, Pius IV., his cardinals, and ecclesiastics of all ranks, was placed near. When the martyr reached the scaffold he declared to the people that he was put to death for no crime but that of confessing with boldness his Master and Saviour Jesus Christ. "As to those who hold the pope to be God upon earth and vicar of Jesus Christ," he said, "they are strangely mistaken, seeing that in everything he shows himself to be a mortal enemy of Christ's doctrine and service." He was then put to death, but not before he had "made the pope and his cardinals gnash their teeth." In this way the Waldenses were driven out of Calabria, at a time, let it be remembered, when in the gracious providence of God the Reformation was being firmly established in England.
We pass on then to consider what was the condition of the Vaudois in their own valleys after the termination of their sufferings narrated in the fifth chapter. We have glanced at the revival of true religion in the valleys and Vaudois colonies. Suffice it, then, to add that the sympathy shown by Farel (present at the Synod of Angrogna, 1532), Ecomlapadius, Bucer, and others, all served to encourage the reviving zeal of that church which had so long held aloft the standard of God's truth, though at times it may be somewhat weary with the strife and burden involved in that high distinction of witnessing for Christ in a world that either forgot or denied Him. One of the signs of the earnestness which characterized the Vaudois Church at this time was the translation of the Holy Scriptures into French (for the benefit of the reformed churches) out of the Romaunce dialect, in which the Vaudois had possessed the word of God from time immemorial. A further proof of piety was shown in the erection of buildings for public worship, A.D. 1535. The first temple was at St. Lorenzo, near Chamforans, the site of the Angrogna Synod; and a second was built at Serre, in the same valley. This latter temple was standing at the time of our visit, though needing repair. It would seem that the evangelical spirit was so decided at this period that the few priests who continued hovering about the valleys in the hope of effecting perversions retired in despair. The process of church building went on, so that in 1556 several temples existed in the Val Lucerna and San Martino. But such a state of things was not permitted to continue without fresh opposition. In the year 1556 the Pope and Henry II. of France give orders to the parliament of Turin to repress these heretical movements. They send out two of their body, who visit the valley of San Martino, and publish an edict threatening all who refuse obedience to its commands. They summoned before them a labourer, and asked him why he had taken his child for baptism to the temple at Angrogna? He replied, "Because baptism was there administered according to the institution of Jesus Christ." The same man, on being commanded to have his child re-baptized, asked for permission to pray before he gave his answer. Having done this, he asked the magistrate to give him a paper assuming the responsibility and the sin of the transaction. This demand so embarrassed his persecutor that he was discharged without further molestation. A noble representative, however, of the class of pedlars of which we have spoken before did not so easily escape his persecutors. This devoted Christian, Barthelemi Hector, of Poictiers, visited from place to place with copies of the word of God, which he read to the people at their work, and sold to those who could buy. On this errand of mercy he betook himself to the slopes of that mountain (La Vachere) which overlook the Pra del Tor. The eagle of the Romish inquisitors tracked him on his rounds, and carried him to Turin that he might answer for so foul a crime! His judges addressed him in the following strain: "You have been surprised in the act of selling heretical books." He responded with the courage of one who knew in whom he believed. "If the Bible contains heresies for you, it is truth for me!" But, replied the judges, "You use the Bible to keep men from going to mass." "If the Bible keeps men from the mass it proves that God condemns it as idolatry," he replied; and when further called upon to retract, he asked, with holy dignity, "Can I change truth as if it were a garment?" Such courage and skill in defending his position impressed his judges, and they hoped, by long delay and promises of pardon, to shake his firmness. But he was upheld by the grace so richly vouchsafed, and he died exclaiming, "Glory to God that He judges me worthy of death for Him." This martyrdom was followed, about two years later, by two other remarkable cases. The first was a young student educated by the republic of Berne, named Nicolas Sartoire. He was returning for a few weeks' holiday to his native land, and had scarcely crossed the frontier of Piedmont when, resisting all temptations to deny his faith, he was burnt at Aosta, on the 4th of May, 1557.
The second, Geoffrey Varaille, was a man of fifty, the son of one of those who had taken part in the persecution of 1488.
While following his duties as a monk, he was convinced of the errors of popery, and after a period of study received ordination, and became pastor of San Giovanni in 1557. He was waylaid while on a visit to Busca, his native place, and carried to Turin, where he made a noble confession of his faith amidst the flames on the 29th of March, 1558. Other victims would have been sacrificed had not the Protestant princes of Germany and the evangelical cantons of Switzerland intervened, and so for a little longer the church in the valleys had a measure of rest prior to the outburst of another fierce attack.
The death of Mary Queen of England put out the fires of persecution in our own beloved land; but, alas! served to rekindle them in the devoted valleys of the Alps. By the treaty of Cambresis, 1559, the kings of France and Spain bound themselves anew to the extirpation of heresy. Moreover, they agreed that the conquests made by each country during the preceding eight years should be restored. Thus all the gains of Francis I. and Henry II. of France were given up, and Philibert Emmanuel of Savoy was transposed by a scratch of the pen from the condition of a landless mercenary into that of a sovereign prince. Would that he had been free to rule as his own disposition and that of his evangelical consort, Margaret of Navarre, would have prompted! But the provisions of the treaty bound him to persecute rather than protect his loyal subjects in the valleys. Too soon the evidences of this appeared. First came edicts forbidding any one to attend non-Catholic preaching. Then commands to hear mass. After that were kindled the fires in which many bravely endured the worst rather than abjure the faith. These proceedings were, however, preliminary to an attack on the valleys. So the Vaudois betake themselves to united prayer for guidance. After deliberation it was resolved to address the duke, the duchess, and the council of the state. In these addresses they set forth the antiquity of their religion, the conformity of their belief with the creeds and four first councils of the church, and the writings of the early fathers, and vindicate themselves from the calumnies of their enemies, also protesting their loyalty to their prince. After much difficulty these documents reached the parties addressed, but owing to the interference of the pope nothing satisfactory was gained. The monks of Pinerolo signalized themselves by the ardour with which they harassed the Vaudois. They employed large numbers of vile characters as mercenaries to make incursions into the valleys. On one occasion they secured possession of a pastor by treachery. Having alarmed his parishioners, they attempted his rescue. Some of these were slain at once by the ruffians from the abbey, others were captured, and by a refinement of cruelty (such as the Church of Rome surpasses all her competitors in) were made, especially the women, to carry the faggots for the fire which was to burn their beloved minister. Occasionally these frocked and sandalled ruffians met with deserved retribution at the hands of those whose homes they desolated. But these things were but the distant rumbling of the tempest, which ere long would burst upon the faithful Christians of the Alps. Their leaders foresaw what was coming, and before the army of persecution actually invaded their soil, they strengthened themselves by praise and prayer, by the word of God, and the ordinance of the Lord's Supper.
Thus "strengthening each other's hand in God," they waited the progress of the soldiers. These numbered over four thousand, commanded by the Count de la Trinite. Twelve hundred of them first attacked the heights of Angrogna, and although the defenders numbered but one in six of their assailants, yet they are repulsed with a loss of sixty dead, while the Vaudois only lost three. Other attacks were equally unsuccessful, and so La Trinite persuades the Angrognians to a truce by which they are powerless to resist, although he still continues his own plans of devastation, plunder, and confiscation. Those cruelties drive the people of La Torre to caves and rocks, although it is winter. An instance of cruelty may be narrated in the case of a man aged a hundred and three, who was found by the soldiers hidden in a cave under the guardianship of his granddaughter, a maiden of seventeen. After taking the life of the venerable man, they seek to dishonour the girl, who, preferring death, leaped over the precipice into the stream below. As she did so, tradition says she sang one of their hymns, and that its melody even now floats in the air of those mountain regions, and is heard by the shepherd as he pastures his flock on the slopes of the Vandalin by "the Maiden's Rock." La Trinite continued his persecutions during a period of fifteen months. The Vaudois organized themselves successfully, and were favoured with remarkable deliverances, which we shall refer to more appropriately in a later chapter, as they were chiefly connected with the Pra del Tor. We may, however, state here that some of the most decisive triumphs against the enemy were obtained by means of a troop of one hundred picked marksmen, called "the flying company," because their services were available in all places according to the varying emergencies of their situation. A treaty of peace so nearly approximating to justice as to be denounced by the pope as "a pernicious example," and by a "liberal" Roman Catholic historian[D] as "a blameable weakness," was concluded at Cavour on the 5th of June, 1561, and honourably fulfilled by Philibert Emmanuel to the end of his days, although the Vaudois were still to bear the cross of their Master. The first hardship coming upon them was that of hunger, thirst, and homelessness. Their joy at the departure of the men of war was sadly diminished by the sight of their ruined homes and devastated vineyards and fields. Alas! for them no fig tree could bloom, no vine yield its fruit. The flock had been cut off from the fold, and the herd driven from the stall. The fields could yield no meat, and the time for sowing was past. To add to those disasters, their poor brethren, flying from Calabria naked and destitute, were seeking shelter and nourishment at their hands. Mercifully, however, sympathizing hearts in Germany and Switzerland, nobly led by the Elector Palatine, the Duke of Wurtemburg, the Marquis of Baden, the energy of Calvin, and seconded by the churches of Strasbourg and Provence, supplied their great distress.
Persecution was renewed by indirect means. Castrocaro, forgetful of the kindness showed him during the late war, when he was taken prisoner by the Vaudois while fighting against them, undertook the task of harassing the valleys. He occupied the castle at La Torre. He ill-treated many of the pastors, especially Gilles. He built the fort at Miraboc, tried to prevent the meetings of the synods, &c. Large numbers had again to choose between the idolatrous mass or the dungeon unless they betook themselves to flight.
It was at this time that the Elector Palatine wrote a remonstrance which deserves to be perpetuated out of regard both to its own merits and those of the noble writer. Addressing the Duke of Savoy, he said, "Let your highness know that there is a God in heaven ... from whom nothing is hid. Let your highness take care not voluntarily to make war upon God, and not to persecute Christ in the person of His members; for if He permit this for a time in order to exercise the patience of His people, He will nevertheless at last chastise the persecutors by horrible punishments. Let not your highness be misled by the seducing discourses of the papists, who, perhaps, will promise you the kingdom of heaven and eternal life, provided ... you exterminate these Huguenots, as they now call good Christians; for assuredly no one can enter the kingdom of heaven by cruelty, inhumanity, and calumny." He also points to the folly of persecution by reminding him that "the ashes of the martyrs are the seed of the Church;" and further, "that the Christian religion was established by persuasion and not by violence, ... that it is nothing else than a firm and enlightened persuasion of God, and of His will, as revealed in His Word and engraven in the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit; it cannot when once rooted be torn away by tortures," &c.
It is probable that the effect of so plain and forcible a remonstrance helped to protect the Vaudois of Piedmont from the horrible cruelties which befell their brethren in France during the infamous massacre of St. Bartholomew. On the 19th of October, 1574, died the good Duchess of Savoy, Margaret of France, who had been the courageous and faithful friend of her husband's Protestant subjects. Shortly after her death Castrocaro, like another zealous persecutor of the Waldenses under La Trinite, Charles Truchet, perished ignominiously; the former by his own sword, taken from him by his adversaries; the latter in prison, deserted by those whose willing tool he had been in deeds of blood! Philibert Emmanuel was succeeded by his son Charles Emmanuel in 1580. An invasion of the French in 1592 was attempted as the means of prejudicing the new king against his faithful subjects in the valleys, but happily in vain, and he assured them of his gracious disposition in an interview at Villaro. However, the Waldenses were annoyed by the visits of popish missionaries, headed by the Archbishop of Turin. Unable to succeed in open discussions, the monks had recourse to bribing persons of bad character. They also laid claim to tithes, closed the schools, and pursued other forms of oppression. In 1624 they were commanded to destroy the temples in their six communes. And during these years the inquisition ever and anon laid hold of some fresh victim for the dungeon and the stake. A merchant of La Torre, named Coupin, Sebastian Basan, and Louis Malherbe, were added to the noble army of Vaudois martyrs, besides scores who languished and died by secret violence between the years 1601-1626.
The monks renewed their old game of kidnapping the children of the Vaudois. An effort was made to establish convents all through the valleys by Rorenco, prior of Lucerna. The only place they could succeed in was that of La Torre, where evangelical worship was forbidden. After the invasion of the French came the terrible plague in 1630. A brief interval of peace and hope beamed upon the valleys with its smile; but, alas! it was but brief. The restlessness of papal hostility soon awoke to new deeds of cruelty.
Two monks, in the month of May, 1636, appeared in the market-place at La Torre with crucifix in hand, and by their abusive language tried to exasperate the people. And even the noble fidelity of the Vaudois to their young prince, Amadeus II. (only five years of age), at the death of his father, against the attempt of his two uncles, supported by Spain, nor the sufferings they endured at this time from the armies of the uncles, nor the patriotic successes they achieved, seem to have obtained for them anything beyond the most temporary respite. Their temples were again closed. Antonie Leger, pastor of San Giovanni, was obliged to flee for his life. He settled in Geneva as professor of theology and Oriental languages, having lived in the service of the Dutch ambassador at Constantinople many years. And, indeed, things were being put in train for that most furious, perhaps, of all the tempests which the irrepressible pride and cruelty of Rome made to lash its strong rage upon the heads and homes of those whose only fault was—
"They would not leave that precious faith For Rome's religion, false, impure; No! no! they rather would endure To lose their all, yea, even death."
[D] BOTTA, vol. ii. Storia d'Italia.
The event to which allusion is made in the close of the foregoing chapter recalls my thoughts and observation, as I stood in the streets of La Torre on what was, as regards the ecclesiastical season, the very anniversary period of that frightful tragedy perpetrated some 214 years before, and remembered still as the "Bloody Pascha." The coincidence seemed to bring home the remembrance of the awful event with a more realizing emphasis. And it was in this train of thought that I cast my eyes upward to the overhanging crag of Castelluzzo. The murderous designs of the edict proclaimed by Gastaldo on the 25th January, 1655; viz., "That all and every one of the heads of families of the pretended reformed religion, of whatever rank or condition, without any exception, both proprietors and inhabitants of the territories of Lucerna, Lucernetta, San Giovanni, La Torre, Bibbiana, Fenile, Campiglione, Bricheariso, and San Secondo, should remove from the aforesaid places within three days to the places allowed by his highness, the names of which places are Bobbio, Villaro, Angrogna, and Rora. Persons contravening the above will incur the penalty of death and confiscation of all their goods, unless within twenty days they declare themselves before us (Gastaldo) to have become Catholics," received its fulfilment by a signal given from this spot on the 24th of April, 1655. The Vaudois had made every submission short of going to mass; but all was in vain, as their extirpation had been determined on by a branch of the inquisition established at Turin in the year 1650. This council was presided over by the Archbishop of Turin, as regards one committee. The Marchioness Pianezza filled the same office over another whose members were ladies! She seems to have breathed the same spirit of ferocity and cunning as that which characterized the conduct of her husband, who commanded the fifteen thousand troops whose gentle entreaties were to win the Vaudois to the orthodoxy of Rome! This army fitly included three regiments of French soldiers, red-handed from the slaughter of the Huguenots; twelve hundred Irish, exiled for their crimes in Ulster; and a number of Piedmontese bandits, attracted by the love of plunder and the promised benedictions of the Church in return for their meritorious labours in extirpating heretics. Two monks led this band of miscreants. One of them, seated on a waggon, brandishing a flaming torch in his left hand and a sword in his right, exhorted the troops to burn and slay. His companion, an aged friar, carried a crucifix before him, exclaiming, "Whoever is a son of the holy church does not pardon heretics; they are the murderers of Christ!" The soldiers, inflamed by these appeals to their fanaticism, went forward with the cry, "Viva la S. Chiesa." They found La Torre deserted; for the people had betaken themselves to the mountains, from whence they could descry the soldiers pillaging their homes. However, they knew that their enemies would not be satisfied with anything less than their lives, and these they resolved to sell as dearly as possible. Pianezza's troops attacked them on the 19th and 20th of April; but the Vaudois on each occasion drove back their assailants with great loss. It was the bravery of the Vaudois at this time that led the Duke of Savoy to say that the skin of a Vaudois cost fifteen or twenty of his best Catholics. Indeed, during this siege fifty of the Piedmontese soldiers were slain by the Vaudois, with only a loss of two by the defenders. The perfidious marquis then resolved to seek by fraud what he was unable to obtain by force.
He invited the deputies—among whom were Leger, the historian and pastor; also the brave Joshua Janavello—to meet him at the convent of La Torre early on Wednesday morning. He represented that he was only in pursuit of those obstinate persons who had resisted the orders of Gastaldo; that the others had nothing to fear, provided they would consent to receive a regiment of infantry and two companies of horse soldiers, as a mark of obedience and fidelity to their prince, for two or three days. He then entertained them sumptuously, and sent them back to their communes to persuade their brethren of his sincerity and kindness. Leger and Janavello saw through the trick, but, alas! the others fell into the snare. Accordingly the Vaudois consented to receive the soldiers into their houses and to entertain them as friends. They allowed them to occupy their hiding-places and strongholds, from whence no fair fight had ever driven them. The very eagerness of the soldiers to penetrate into these recesses, and their brutality on their way to the Pra del Tor, opened the eyes of the Vaudois to their miserable condition. It is remarkable that the deputies from Angrogna were the readiest to believe in Pianezza's promises, and also the first to fall victims to his murderous soldiery. On Thursday and Friday Pianezza was occupied with three things—first, in keeping those of the Vaudois on the French frontier from escaping to that country; secondly, in persuading the inhabitants of the valleys of his "good intentions;" and thirdly, resting his soldiers in readiness for the day of slaughter. On Good Friday the Vaudois observed the day according to the usage of their church, by fasting and humiliation. They could not meet in their churches; but in their caverns and mountain dells they cried to the Lord for deliverance from their great distress, and for strength to remain faithful under persecution. The Lord heard their cry; but the church of the valleys was destined to pass through such a sea of suffering, inflicted in the name of the holy Catholic church, as would have made many a pagan persecutor blush with shame. At four o'clock in the morning of Easter-eve, on a signal given from the top of Castelluzzo, Pianezza's troops rose to slaughter the persons under whose roofs they had slept, and of whose food they had partaken the night before. Surely a religion which thus degrades men into monsters should have few apologists in our day. The mind recoils from the enumeration of the horrors of that "bloody Easter." Human depravity, goaded on by every motive which spiritual wickedness could suggest, celebrated such a carnival as must have staggered even a Nero. Men, women, and children were torn limb from limb, after suffering every possible outrage and indecency. Some were rolled from their native rocks to afford merriment to their butchers. Others were impaled on the trees by the wayside. Neither age nor sex hindered this work of brutality; and it is even said that not only did the wretches burn the living bodies of their victims, but also regaled themselves with their flesh, yea, in the presence of their suffering fellows! When these pious soldiers of holy church could no longer slay the Vaudois they burnt their houses and farm buildings, and destroyed their vineyards, with the fruit-trees and other products of the soil.
Nor was Pianezza content with these horrible proceedings at La Torre and its immediate vicinity. On the evening of the same day, Saturday, April 24th, Rora was attacked by five hundred men, the day after by a larger body, the next day by more soldiers still—all in vain. A fourth attack, like the others, was successfully repelled by their noble captain, Janavello, who, with a very small body of helpers, inflicted terrible loss upon the troops, even causing the death of their leader, Mario. These continuous defeats so enraged Pianezza, that he sent them a message to attend mass within twenty-four hours on pain of death. They replied, "We prefer death to the mass a hundred thousand times." On this he assembled a force of ten thousand to attack their village. Janavello fought like a lion, but was overpowered by numbers. His wife and three daughters, with some others, were taken captive. One hundred and twenty-six persons were put to death, and the scenes of the former week were renewed in all their horrible atrocity. The news of this frightful massacre sent a thrill of horror through all that portion of Europe whose sensibilities had not been drugged by the poisonous teaching of the Church of Rome, viz., that heretics are malefactors, and as such may be lawfully exterminated like wild beasts. The representatives of England, Holland, and Switzerland protested against these doings. Cromwell set an example to all rulers, whether kings or presidents. His envoy, Sir Samuel Morland, read a despatch in the presence of Carlo, Emmanuel II., Duke of Savoy, and of his mother, who, under the instigation of the Romish priests, had caused the massacre, which contained the following passage:—"If all the tyrants of all times and ages were alive again, certainly they would be ashamed when they should find that they had contrived nothing in comparison with these things that might be reputed barbarous and inhuman." The poetical fervour of Milton gave forth the following noble invocation:—
"Avenge, O Lord, Thy slaughtered saints, whose bones Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold!
* * * * *
Forget not; in Thy book record their groans Who were Thy sheep, and in their ancient fold, Slain by the bloody Piedmontese, that rolled Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans The vales redoubled to the hills, and they to heaven."
The result of these circumstances was the delusive treaty of Pinerolo, agreed to in the month of August, 1655. This treaty was hurried on in spite of the request of the plenipotentiaries from England and Holland for a delay, in order that they might secure better terms for the inhabitants of the valleys. While freedom of worship was promised, it was restricted by many irksome conditions; e.g., preaching was forbidden in the commune of S. Giovanni and the town of La Torre, and, moreover, the castle of the latter place was rebuilt and garrisoned, a grievance which the Vaudois had especially protested against. The grievances which grew out of the treaty of Pinerolo, and the events which preceded that ill-conditioned arrangement in the interval between the week of massacre and the date of its signature, are so closely connected with the exploits and history of Janavello, that I feel it better to let my account of La Torre rest here, and proceed to narrate my visit to Rora, the residence of that patriotic soldier and pious chieftain.
RORA AND JANAVELLO.
In order to reach this spot, my companion and I left the town of La Torre by a street bounded on one side by Trinity College. We then crossed the Pelice by a somewhat rustic bridge, and found ourselves very quickly immersed in woods on the mountain side with numberless bye-paths. These paths were very circuitous, and we had occasion often to ask our way from some friendly woodman or inhabitant of a wayside chalet. Every now and then we came to a kind of table-land, where we could indulge in a panoramic survey. The steepness of the ascent, and the occasional ruggedness of our path, served to intensify our realization of the interest of the locality, as the scene of so many heroic deeds by Janavello and his little but brave band of patriots against the assailants of their hearths, faith, and homes. About an hour and a half from the time we had left La Torre we came to the Plas Janavel, which constitutes a magnificent amphitheatre, planted with vines, and corn, and chestnut trees. From this locality we bore away in a south-westerly direction, over a rocky eminence crowned with wood, and descended through gardens and orchards to a kind of ravine or narrow valley, on the sloping side of which stands Janavello's house. We found an old, but obliging, Roman Catholic in possession of the premises, once so bravely defended by their patriotic owner. However, overwhelmed by numbers, he was compelled to retreat after performing prodigies of valour, his sister, with babe at her breast, being shot by his side. We were shown the entrance to the subterranean outlet by which Janavello made his escape. The initials G. G., with the date of the year, we also read, cut in the stone above.
So soon, however, as Janavello had placed his little son, only eight years of age, in the care of friends in Dauphiny, he returned to his native valleys, and became the David of his people against the bands of Philistines who were yet in the land. The skill and bravery already displayed by Janavello in so successfully resisting the troops of Pianezza, led the latter at first to attempt to win over the patriot warrior by offering him a pardon for himself and the safe return of his wife and three daughters (who had been captured at Rora) if he would renounce his "heresy," but threatening him if he refused with the severest treatment. To this Janavello nobly replied, "That there were no torments so cruel, nor death so barbarous, which he would not prefer to abjuration; that if the marquis made his wife and daughters to pass through the fire, the flames could only consume their bodies; that as for their souls, he commended them to God, trusting them in His hands equally with his own, in case it should please Him to permit his falling into the hands of the executioners."
Janavello's troop, led by himself and his lieutenant, Jahier, had many successful contests with the enemy during the months of May, June, and July. They captured the town of Secondo, occupied by their enemies, and while putting to death large numbers of the Irish soldiers who had been guilty of such enormities, they yet spared the sick, aged, and children, unlike the treatment accorded to themselves. One of their chief services, however, was to keep in check the garrison which had been placed in the fort at La Torre. A splendid victory on the heights of Angrogna was sadly clouded by a wound received by Janavello. For a time it was thought to be mortal. However, Janavello, being removed to a distance, gradually recovered; but a yet worse thing happened later in the day. Jahier, to whom the command had been entrusted by Janavello, with the request to cease the conflict for that evening, was induced by a traitor to disregard that instruction, and fell, with fifty of his men, into an ambush of the enemy. Jahier, his son, and all his companions but one, fell, covered with wounds, and fighting with the courage of heroes. Leger speaks of Jahier as a perfect captain, had it not have been for his imprudent boldness.
However, Janavello mercifully recovered from his wound, and when the Vaudois, wearied beyond endurance by the cruelties inflicted upon them by the successive governors of that fort at La Torre which had been most unjustly restored in 1655 after its destruction by the French in 1593, could no longer submit, the hero of Rora (notwithstanding a price was set upon his head) assembled some two or three hundred patriots to resist the plundering bands of De Bagnol and Paolo de Berges. Such was the terror caused by these wretches that the people of Giovanni, La Torre, Rora, and Lucerna, fled to the mountains on the French territory. Then, as if disappointed of his prey, De Bagnol issued an edict commanding them within three days to return and present themselves at the fort. No exception was to be allowed for age, sex, or condition. The majority were wise enough to disobey this order, but some, thinking they might be allowed to cultivate their lands again, ventured to return, but, alas! they had occasion to bitterly lament the result. Whilst the commandant of the fortress of La Torre ordered the fugitives to return, Janavello exerted his influence to keep them back. Before the final date, June 25th, 1662, had arrived, an army, commanded by the Marquises of Fleury and Angrogna, appeared at the entrance of the Val Pelice, so that the Vaudois could no longer doubt the intentions of their enemies. But at this stage happened one of those remarkable displays of loyalty to their prince on the part of the Vaudois which was only equalled by their fidelity to God. The troops of the duke were prevented by the armed population of the valleys from crossing the end so as to reach the fort of Mirabouc beyond Bobbio, which was then destitute of provisions, and which it was desired to reinforce. Under these circumstances the commanders of the Piedmontese troops requested the chief persons of the commune to give a proof of submission and good-will to their sovereign by escorting a convoy which was on its way to the fortress. They were assured that if they would do this that peace would be promptly restored. The devoted Vaudois, more willing to risk their own safety than appear to distrust their prince, complied with this request; yea, even more than once, though a war of extermination was being urged against them; for their enemies, unable to discover any marks of merit in those they stigmatized as heretics, were seeking to occupy the heights of La Vachere and obtain possession of their citadel, the Pra del Torre. On the 6th of July, 1663, the enemy ascended the mountains from four different points. The two first divisions, numbering four thousand men, were fortifying themselves on the hill of Plans before attempting to force through the narrow pass called the gate of Angrogna, occupied by a detachment of Vaudois placed there by Janavello. In the meantime the two other divisions of the enemy's force, approaching from the side of Giovanni and La Torre, repulsed the six or seven hundred mountaineers who had been hastily gathered at that point; but when they reached the rocks and ruins of Roccamanetto, the scene of many a victory won by the patriot bands, and which, said Janavello on this occasion, is "our Tabor," the Vaudois stayed the course of their assailants and finally compelled them to retreat with considerable slaughter. Janavello then gave thanks to God, and after leaving a guard led his troops down the valley, exclaiming, "Let us sweep these cowards from the hills!"
After a determined charge in flank, and the renewed efforts of the Vaudois already posted at the gate of Angrogna, the Piedmontese fled, leaving behind them over six hundred dead, besides many wounded. As the results of these discomfitures, a new general was appointed for the Piedmontese troops, Count Damian; and although other successes followed the arms of the patriots, yet they suffered a reverse at St. Germano, and frightful cruelties were perpetrated by their enemies; e.g., at Roccapiatta they burnt to death a woman nearly one hundred years of age, and bedridden. At St. Germano a young woman is treated with every possible indecency, and then left to die, after having her flesh cut from her bones. Other atrocities also were wrought upon persons falling into the hands of the soldiers, which it is impossible to recite. The Duke of Savoy now began to feel disappointed at the results of this persecution of his subjects; and the deputies of the Swiss cantons tried to obtain honourable conditions for the Vaudois. Therefore a kind of amnesty was published Feb. 14th, 1664, which, although professing to confirm the articles of the treaty of Pinerolo, really abridged many of the privileges formerly enjoyed by the Vaudois. It also imposed a fine of two million francs. Janavello was refused any share in the benefits of this treaty, and consequently retired to Geneva, where his valuable counsel stood Arnaud in good stead at a later period. In the war between Charles Emmanuel of Savoy and the Genoese, in 1672, the Vaudois rendered such cheerful and valuable help that their sovereign was constrained to make a public acknowledgment of their services. A brighter day now seemed dawning upon these faithful valley men. To be the object of their ruler's confidence and affection was a pleasure as sweet to their taste as rare in their experience. But, alas! this pleasant change is but a break in the dark clouds which have so long overshadowed their troubled life, and but the precursor of a storm of bitterness and cruelty unsurpassed even in their annals of woe and sadness. Charles Emmanuel died on the 3rd of June, 1678. For a few years, under the regency of his widow and the reign of his son, Victor Amadeus VII., there was peace. But just at the time when their services against the banditti of Mondovi might seem to have added to their claims and expectation, new dangers appear.
It was in this wise. Louis XIV. of France thought to atone for the misdeeds of a life of sensuality by the forced conversion of his subjects to popery, and so, after a series of preliminary brutalities, to which he had been stimulated by his confessor and others, he revokes the edict of Nantes, and gives to the prosperity of his country a blow from which it has never recovered. But the grand monarque of France was not content to tread this royal road to heaven alone. He wished his neighbour of Savoy to share in the benedictions of the pretended successor of St. Peter. However, the young duke shrank from imitating such conduct, until he was politely reminded by the French ambassador that his master would drive away the heretics with fourteen thousand men, but that he would also retain their valleys for himself. In consequence of this Amadeus engages to join with the king of France in shedding the blood of the saints. A painful foreboding of suffering filled the minds of the Vaudois as soon as they heard of the revocation of the edict of Nantes; but they were not prepared for the actual severity of the edict of January 30th, 1686, which forbade, under pain of death, all religious services except the Romish, and ordered the destruction of their temples, the banishment of their ministers and schoolmasters, and the baptism and education of their children henceforth in the false creed of Rome. This was indeed the bitterest drop in their cup of overflowing grief. Staggered by the enormity of the evil, they first of all sought the ear of their own prince. Disappointed, they began to make preparations to defend themselves against the troops which were gathering on their frontiers. On the 22nd of April the popish army began its march, the Piedmontese led by Gabriel of Savoy, uncle of the duke, the French commanded by Catinat. The latter began operations in the valley of Clusone. They attacked the Vaudois entrenchments at Pramol, but were so obstinately resisted, although they outnumbered the defenders as six to one, that after ten hours' fighting they fell back, followed by the Vaudois as far as the temple of St. Germain, when the night closed the encounter; and on the next day they were protected by reinforcements from Pinerolo. The five hundred Frenchmen killed and wounded on this occasion furnished the pretext for horrible cruelties practised by that portion of the troops which were commanded by Catinat himself in the defenceless valley of Martino.
In the meantime Gabriel of Savoy was attacking the valley of Angrogna. The Vaudois, although weakened by divisions, and lacking such leaders as Janavello and Leger, yet fortified the heights of La Vachere, and for a whole day successfully resisted their assailants. But, unfortunately, they were induced to believe the promise made to them in a note signed by Gabriel of Savoy, in the name of his nephew, that "if they laid down their arms they should not be injured, either in their own persons or in those of their wives and children." This promise, and similar ones made to other groups of the Vaudois at Pra del Torre, Permian, near Pramol, and other retired spots in the neighbourhood of La Torre, were all shamefully disregarded. The people of Bobbio were the last to give way, after a brave resistance, which they continued on the rocks of the Vandalin. Frightful deeds of shame and cruelty now prevailed all through the valleys. Two examples may suffice, although by no means the worst in some respects. A woman takes refuge in a cave, with her little babe and a goat, which furnished the means of their subsistence. Unfortunately the poor animal was heard to bleat by some of the soldiers who happened to be near. These wretches seized the child and, in the presence of its mother, threw it over the precipice, and then led the mother herself to a jutting crag that she might die there in the greatest agony. A second case is that of the pastor of Guigot, near Prali. He had secreted himself under a rock, and believing the enemy to be at a distance, was consoling himself by singing a psalm. For this offence, after months of suffering in prison, he was condemned to death. He died with the Saviour's words on his lips—"Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." The cruelties inflicted on the Vaudois at this time were even greater than those resulting from the massacres of 1655; but, in addition to all that took place within the valleys themselves, there remain the wrongs perpetrated upon those who were dragged from their loved, though desolated, homes. Some fourteen thousand persons were distributed in thirteen or fourteen prison fortresses. Husbands were separated from their wives, parents from their children, some two thousand children being placed among papists for the purposes of perversion. These were chiefly sent to the district of Vercelli, in Piedmont. And thus the church of Rome won a triumph even more complete than her sanguinary labours in the low countries. She had now silenced the gospel in Italy. That pure flame in the valleys of Piedmont no longer shone amidst the darkness. Those pious mountaineers no longer sang their psalms by hill-side, nor offered the worship of a free heart in their lowly dells. The pure morals of those shepherds and vine-dressers no longer rebuked the foul licentiousness which flourished amid the benedictions of Santa Chiesa, provided heretics were exterminated. That gospel which apostles taught, and Rome once received, was no longer heard from the lips of pastors who disdain the polluting touch of hands more able to confer the gifts of Simon Magus than those of Simon Peter.
But yet these children of a pure faith are not conquered. They leave their homes in the months of November, December, and February. Hundreds perish by the way. How could it be otherwise? At that season of the year, and after the treatment they had received in the dungeons in which they had groaned, even strong men would have shrank from crossing the Alps, to say nothing of the aged women and young children. Alas! O Rome, thy tender mercies are cruel! The Swiss Protestants did nobly to soften the horrors of the treatment awarded to their suffering co-religionists. They not only remonstrated at the Court of Turin, but provided clothing and food to assist the sufferers; they kept a solemn fast-day; they made collections; they stationed themselves, by the consent of the Piedmontese authorities (let it be said), at various places along the route. So by the end of February, 1687, some two thousand six hundred Vaudois, men, women, and children, were received within the hospitable walls of the city of Geneva. Afterwards their numbers reached three thousand, and these were all that remained out of a population of about sixteen thousand, dragged or driven from the valleys. Nine pastors had been imprisoned in the citadel of Turin with their families, and although their liberation was earnestly asked for by the Swiss commissioners, it does not appear that they were ever allowed to join their exiled brethren in Switzerland. However, the Vaudois, though deeply touched with the kindness shown them by their friends in Switzerland and Germany, yet sighed after their own dear valleys. Although Janavello could not lend them active aid by his no longer stalwart arm and heroic presence, yet he took a deep interest in the preparations for their return, and praised God that He had provided them a captain. Who this captain was, and the nature of the deliverance wrought by his instrumentality, must be left for another chapter.
Henri Arnaud was born at Die, in Dauphiny, in 1641. He was educated for the Christian ministry, but, owing to the troubles of the period, betook himself to a military life for a time. He entered the service of William Prince of Orange, afterwards King William III. of England, who was regarded at that time as the hereditary champion of Protestant interests in Europe, and the determined opponent, as he afterwards proved, of the restless ambition and persecuting tyranny of Louis XIV. of France. The Prince of Orange thought highly of the military talents and the personal character of Henri Arnaud, and promoted him to the rank of captain in his army. He seems, however, to have reverted to the intention of his early life, about the year 1684, inasmuch as we find him occupying the important post of pastor at La Torre during the eventful year 1686, the year of the revocation of the edict of Nantes. Amadeus II., goaded on by the threatenings and entreaties of the French king, renewed the persecution of his faithful Vaudois, by the publication of a severe edict in January, and by the invasion of their territory in the April following. The Vaudois defended themselves with such courage and success that, after ten hours' fighting, the invaders were compelled to retreat as far as the temple at Germano. The close of the day gave a respite to the enemy, and enabled them to obtain reinforcements from Pinerolo. In this successful repulse of the French and Piedmontese troops, and which resulted in the death or wounding of 500 Frenchmen, Henri Arnaud played a conspicuous part. But when subsequently the Vaudois were ready to confide in the faithless but plausible proposals of Gabriel of Savoy, Henri Arnaud refused to trust himself to the enemies of his country, and as his warnings were disregarded he escaped to Switzerland. Here he was providentially preserved and protected for a yet greater opportunity of service to the land and church of his adoption. The promise of Gabriel of Savoy to the Vaudois, that if they laid down their arms they should not be injured, either in their own persons or in those of their wives and children, was shamefully disregarded; therefore, after terrible sufferings in the summer and autumn, several thousands quit their much-loved valleys, and cross the Alps in the worst season of the year rather than abjure the faith of their fathers. About two thousand six hundred of these exiles reach the hospitable city of Geneva by the end of February, 1687. Later on some hundreds more were added to their numbers. Beside Henry Arnaud, there was already at Geneva the heroic Janavello. Deeply touched as were the exiles with the Christian sympathy shown to them by friends in Switzerland and Germany, gratefully impressed as they were with the efforts making for their settlement in these hospitable countries, yet their thoughts would often revert to their native valleys. They not only sighed over the remembrance of the pastures where they had fed their flocks, but they also groaned for the temples of God which had been broken down. For the voice of truth which was now silenced in the land of martyrs and confessors, and simultaneously grew up the hope and the desire of returning to the place which had been for so long the home of their fathers. When Henri Arnaud found that this project had the approval of the veteran Janavello, he repaired to Holland, to lay the design before the Prince of Orange, who warmly entered into the design, and promised substantial assistance towards its realization. After two premature attempts and many difficulties, Arnaud, who was residing at this time with his family at Neufchatel, made his arrangements so well that many hundreds of the Vaudois succeeded in assembling in the forest of Prangins, near the little town of Nyon on the shore of the lake Leman.