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Western Christianity


Doctrines Believing the Bible alone to be the sole source of authority for Christians, the Waldenses reject the Roman Catholic Mass, prayers for the dead, and the doctrine of purgatory as unbiblical. Instead of ordaining clergy, they encourage both men and women to preach and to commit themselves to a life of poverty and celibacy.

History The founder of the Waldenses was Valdes, a wealthy 12th century merchant of Lyons, France. Inspired by the passage in the Gospel of Matthew in which Christ instructed a rich young man to sell all that he had for the good of the poor, Valdes gave away all of his possessions in order to adopt the life of a mendicant preacher.
As a layman Valdes was not authorised to preach by the church. His refusal to discontinue his preaching led him and his followers to be condemned as heretics and excommunicated at the Council of Verona in 1184.
During the 13th century the Waldenses were persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church. A remnant survived in the Alpine valleys south west of Turin. During the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century many accepted the doctrines of John Calvin and joined the Reformed Church. Those that remained as a distinctive church continued to suffer discrimination. It was only in 1848 that the Waldenses were ascribed civil rights. This led to a flourishing of the movement expressed in the planting of churches in Italy and the establishment of new colonies in Uruguay, Argentina and America.

Symbols The Waldenses do not have a distinctive symbol system.

Adherents Today the church has some 22,000 members in Italy and some 15,000 members in Uruguay (Europa Publications Limited 1995 1:1641).

Main Centre
 Via Firenze 38, 00184 Rome.