O n the morning of March 30, 2003, we drove to the Piedmont area of northwest Italy where some of the Waldenses were located going back to at least the 11th century and probably much earlier and where they were bitterly persecuted by the Roman Catholics until the 18th century. In many cases, they became assimilated into the local Protestant group. There are approximately 30,000 Waldensians in Italy today, and 15,000 in the sister church in Argentina and Uruguay. However, his followers held a convention in Bergamo in 1228, to co-ordinate the various doctrines which had arisen in the meantime. There was a time when I imagined the Waldensians—whose history dates back to the eleventh century—as cardboard characters. In Italy there are over 150 congregations and as many specialized ministries and social programs. Since colonial times there have been Waldensians who found freedom on American shores, as marked by the presence of them in New Jersey and Delaware. Many Waldensians, having escaped persecution in their homelands by making their way to the tolerant Dutch Republic, went to start anew in the New Netherland colony. In 1686, the new duke prohibited the Waldensians from practicing their religion, and for the first time, the church formally resisted. D. Bercot Persecution eventually drove the Waldensians to settle in the Alps along the French-Italian border and across northern Italy, southern Switzerland, and western Austria. In 2015, Pope Francis asked them to forgive the Church for historic persecution. When the Protestant Reformation came in the 1500s, many of the Waldensians joined in, with the bulk of them adopting Calvinism. The communities which in the seventeenth century settled in Germany have since severed their connection with the church and abandoned their original language. Waldensians were not only different from, but also critical of the Cathars. There's more coming. There is still a Waldensian church surviving in Italy to this day, the Chiesa Evangelica Valdese, adhering to a broadly Calvinist outlook. Huguenots shared the same religious beliefs and the Occitans and French languages with the Waldenses in Piedmont. For more information about the Waldensians, we recommend: The Waldensians. Two-thousand Waldensians … After many years of travelling to further the Reformation, Peter Waldo went missing. There are five congregations in Uruguay and two in Argentina. The Waldensian Church today embraces approximately 30,000 members in Italy and 15,000 in Argentina-Uruguay. You'll find a description of the origin of the Waldensians on the late Medieval Christianity page already, but I intend to add their Waldensian Confession of 1655 and a description of their doctrines before their influence by John Calvin, who originally objected to them due to their emphasis on merit that he did not feel left room for justification by faith in Christ. Starting in 1856, small groups began emigrating to Uruguay and, later, to Argentina. Pope Gregory IX enacted a large scale fight against heretics in the 1230's, which was primarily aimed at Cathars, but also effectivly rooted out Waldensians in most Meditteranean urban areas by the 14th century. Peter Valdez – or Waldo – founded this movement, in 1173, by giving up all his significant wealth and choosing to live as begging wanderer. Within three days of combat, the Waldensians were defeated, their churches burned, and more than 8,000 were thrown into prison. As a result, many women, including reformed prostitutes, were welcomed into the Waldensian priesthood. Widely dispersed with few pastors, they had difficulty maintaining their identity at first. By the turn of the century, there were several thousand Waldensians in South America. Three colonies have settled in the United States : at Wolfe Ridge, Texas ; Valdese, North Carolina; and Monett, Missouri. 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