Chapter 13


 The Woman in The Wilderness

  Investigators made a report to Louis XII, king of France, that "They had visited all the parishes where they (Waldenses) dwelt, and had inspected their places of worship, but that they had found no images, nor signs of the ornaments belonging to the mass, nor any of the ceremonies of the Roman Church; much less could they discover any traces of those crimes with which they were charged. On the contrary, they kept the Sabbath day, observed the ordinance of baptism according to the primitive church, instructed their children in the articles of the Christian faith and the commandments of God." -- Jones' Church History, p. 260.

"Whosoever refuses to curse, to swear, to lie, to kill, to commit adultery, to steal, to be revenged of his enemy, they say he is a Vaudois, and therefore they put him to death.'" -- Voltaire's Gen. Hist., chap. 69.

"An ancient inquisitor, to whose writings against the Waldenses I had occasion to refer in a former section, thus describes them. `These Heretics are known by their manners and conversation, for they are orderly and modest in their behavior and deportment. They avoid all appearance of pride in their dress. They neither indulge in finery of attire nor are they remarkable for being mean and ragged. They avoid commerce, that they may be free from deceit and falsehood. They get their livelihood by manual industry, as daylaborers or mechanics; and their teachers are weavers or tailors. They are not anxious about amassing riches; but content themselves with the necessities of life. They are chaste, temperate, and sober. They abstain from anger. Even when they work, they either learn or teach. In like manner, also, their women are modest, avoiding backbiting, foolish jesting, and levity of speech, especially abstaining from lies or swearing, not so much as making use of the common asseverations, `in truth,' `for certain,' or the like, because they regard these as oaths, contenting themselves with simply answering `yes' or `no.'" -- Jones' Church History, pp. 258, 259.

"Alluding to the churches of the Waldenses in Piedmont, and those scattered throughout the diocese of Italy, he (Claudius Seisselius, archbishop of Turin), tells us that the most cruel persecutions had not been able to extripate them, or hinder them from a constant defense of that doctrine which they had received from their ancestors." -- Idem, p. 246.

Peter Allix, in his history of the Churches of Piedmont, chapter 28, page 323, mentions the name as "The Church of God." In chapter 25, page 288, he again mentions the "Church of God." It will be observed that the people called by the world "Waldenses," were driven by Rome into the Piedmont valleys.

"There was no kingdom of Southern and Central Europe to which these missionaries did not find their way, and where they did not leave traces of their visit by the disciples whom they made. On the west they penetrated into Spain. In Southern France they found congenial fellow laborers in the Albigenses, by whom the seeds of truth were plentifull scattered over Dauphine and Languedoc. On the east, descending the Rhine and the Danube, they leavened Germany, Bohemia, and Poland with their doctrines, their track being marked with the edifices for worship and the stakes of martyrdom that arose around their steps. Even the Seven-hilled City they feared not to enter, scattering the seed on ungenial soil, if perchance some of it might take root and grow. Their naked feet and coarse woolen garments made them somewhat marked figures in the streets of a city that clothed itself in purple and fine linen; and when their errand was discovered, as sometimes chanced, the rulers of Christendom took care to further, in their own way, the springing of the seed, by watering it with the blood of the men who had sowed it.

"Thus did the Bible in those ages, veiling its majesty and its mission, travel silently through Christendom, entering homes and hearts, and there making its abode.

"From her lofty seat Rome looked down with contempt upon the Book and its humble bearers. She aimed at bowing the necks of kings, thinking if they were obedient, meaner men would not dare to revolt; and so she took little heed of a power which, weak as it seemed, was destined at a future day to break in pieces the fabric of her dominion.

"By and by she began to be uneasy, and to have a boding of calamity. The penetrating eye of Innocent III detected the quarter whence danger was to arise. He saw in the labors of these humble men the beginning of a movement which, if permitted to go on and gather strength, would one day sweep away all that it had taken the toils and intrigues of centuries to achieve. He straightway commenced those terrible crusades which wasted the sowers, but watered the seed, and helped to bring on, at its appointed hour, the catastrophe which he sought to avert." -- Wylie, History of the Waldenses, pp. 22, 23.

Of the persecution against the Vaudois of La Guardia, Wylie says: "Enticing the inhabitants outside the gates, and placing soldiers in ambush, they succeeded in getting into their power upwards of sixteen hundred persons. Of these, seventy were . . . tortured, in the hope of compelling them to accuse themselves of practicing shameful crimes in their religious assemblies. No such confession, however, could the most prolonged tortures wring from them. 'Stefano Carlino,' says M'Crie, `was tortured till his bowels gushed out;' and another prisoner, named Verminel, `was kept eight hours on a horrid instrument called the hell but persisted in denying the atrocious calumny.' Some were thrown from the tops of towers, or precipitated over cliffs; others were torn with iron whips, and finally beaten to death with fiery brands; and others, smeared with pitch, were burned alive." -- Idem, p. 115.

Of the Roman persecutions against the true followers of the Lamb in the town of Pragelas, Wylie says: "It was in midwinter," . . . "and the inhabitants dreaded no attack, believing, themselves sufficiently protected by the snow which then lay deep on their mountains. They were destined to experience the bitter fact that the rigors of the season had not quenched the fire of their persecutor's malice. Borelli, at the head of an armed troop, broke suddenly into Pragelas, meditating the entire extinction of its population. The miserable inhabitants fled in haste to the mountains, carrying on their shoulders their old men, their sick, and their infants, knowing what fate awaited them should they leave them behind. In their flight a great many were overtaken and slain. Nightfall brought them deliverance from pursuit, but no deliverance from the horrors not less dreadful . . . without shelter, without food, and frozen snow around them, the winter's sky overhead, their sufferings were inexpressibly great. When morning broke, what a heart-rending spectacle did day disclose! Some of the miserable group lost their hands and feet from frostbite; while others were stretched out on the snow, stiffened corpses. Fifty young children, some say eighty, were found dead from cold, some lying on the bare ice, others locked in the frozen arms of their mothers, who had perished on the dreadful night along with their babes." -- Idem, pp. 30, 31.


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