Waldo (or Valdo), Peter

Waldo (or Valdo), Peter the founder or ally of the Vaudois or Waldenses (q.v.), a body of Christians who separated themselves from the Church of Rome in the 12th century, was born at Vaux, in Daluphiny, on the banks of the Rhone. He acquired a large fortune by commercial pursuits in Lyons, France; and when he resolved to retire from business, not only devoted himself to the spiritual instruction of the poor, but distributed his goods among them, and in all respects treated them as his children or brothers. The only translation of the Bible then in use was that made by Jerome, called the Latin Vulgate; but Waldo, who was a learned as well as a benevolent man, translated the four gospels into French, this being the first appearance of the Scriptures in any modern language. The possession of these books soon discovered to Waldo and his people that the Church was never designed to be dependent on a priesthood, even for the administration of the sacraments; and his instruction, boldly followed by practice, became so obnoxious to the Church that he was first persecuted by the archbishop of Lyons, and at length anathematized by the pope. No longer safe at Lyons, Waldo and his friends took refuge in the mountains of Dauphiny and Piedmont, and there formed those communities which grew in peace and flourished in rustic simplicity "pure as a flower amid the Alpine snows." From these mountains and valleys the simple doctrines of Christianity flowed out in multiplied rivulets all over Europe. Provence, Languedoc, Flanders, Germany, one after another tasted of the refreshing waters, until, in the course of ages, they swelled into a flood which swept over all lands. Waldo is understood to have traveled in Picardy, teaching his Reformation doctrines hundreds of years before Luther was born. He finally settled in Bohemia, where he died in i179, the same year in which his tenets were denounced by an ecumenical council. The Waldensian Church was a light on the mountains during the Dark Ages, and, amid all the corruptions of the Church, it held its open Bible and pure doctrines; and that same Church still survives, the: basis of all reformatory movements in Italy. (W. P. S.)

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