The Vaudois

The Vaudois retreated to the valleys of the Italian Cottian Alps during the second, third, and fourth centuries.  The Noble Lesson was one of their documents and it shows conclusively that the language of the Vaudois had not changed substantially in all the centuries they had lived hidden away in their valleys. This confession of faith in poetic form was used to teach their children “the faith once delivered to the saints.”  Here, then, are conclusive pieces of evidence—Jerome’s recording of Vigilantius in 406, Claude Bishop of Turin in the early 800’s, and the language in which the Noble Lesson  (written in 1100) and other earlier original documents which Samuel Morland procured in 1655—that the Vaudois or Vallenses really were preserved by God in the line of unbroken apostolic faith from the early centuries through the Reformation.

            It should be noted, the Vaudois are sometimes called Waldenses.  The Roman Catholic Church’s consistent policy has been to try to confuse the origin of the early churches of the Valleys.  It contended that it was Peter Waldo who established these churches, thus maintaining that they were heretics rather than the true church.  However, the still extant historical facts make it clear that the Papacy’s long record of revisionist history is as false today as it was at its inception many centuries ago.  One very important fact is that Peter Waldo was not known before 1160 while the Noble Lesson was written in 1100.  In 1690 Allix contends, “it is not true that [Peter] Waldo gave this name to the inhabitants of the valleys: They were called Wallenses, or Vaudés, before his time, from the valleys in which they dwelt.  This we find…in Ebrardus de Bethune, who wrote in the year 1212, where he asserts, that they called themselves Wallenses…because they abode in the ‘valley of tears.’ so that we see that this etymology rather has respect to the place where they lived, which was in the valleys of Piedmont, than to the name of Peter Waldo.”[1]

The testimony of the Vaudois, both in their writing and in their practice, showed that the authority of the Bible continued to be their rule of life.[2]  The first distinguishing principle of the Waldenses bore on their daily conduct, and was summed up in the words of the apostle: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”[3] The second principle was the authority and popular use of the Holy Scriptures, which they had in their native language.  There were those among them who could quote the entire Bible from memory.  The third distinguishing principle was the importance of preaching and the rights of believing men to exercise that function.  To these fundamental principles, based on the Sermon on the Mount, the Vaudois added the rejection of oaths, the condemnation into purgatory, and prayers for the dead.  There are only two ways after death, they declared—the way to heaven and the way to hell. The pre-Reformation Vaudois faith and practice touched many people through those dark centuries.  They regularly sent out missionaries (many of whom were merchants) to evangelize Europe, and these missionaries attracted converts from many sources.  They were, however, to suffer terribly for their faith.

It is an historical fact that these churches of Northern Italy, which had remained faithful to the Scripture from the time of their establishment in the second, third, and fourth centuries through the Reformation, were the true churches.  The Papal Church clearly was, and is still today, the heretical schismatic.  It is the historical account of these ancient biblical churches in northern Italy and southern France that the Roman Catholic Church has been trying for at least the past nine centuries to wipe out—ethnic cleansing of them by crusades and six hundred years of Inquisition against them, by destruction of the records of their testimony, and by revisionist history.

[1] Allix, pp. 182-183.

[2] See The Noble Lesson and other works, a catalog of which is recorded in Samuel Morland, The History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piemont (Henry Hills, 1658)  Reprint.  Morland was sent by Oliver Cromwell to put pressure on the Duke of Savoy to stop the “bloudy massacre” of the Vaudois in 1655.  Morland received many original manuscripts of the Vaudois at that time and put them in the public library at the University of Cambridge, from which they shortly disappeared.  Morland in his two volume History was careful to quote widely from these original sources.

[3] Acts 5:29