Joshua Gianavello knew he had to act fast. An army of 500 soldiers marched to the village of Rora with one goal in mind—to kill all the Waldenses in the valley.
The April 24, 1655, command left no doubt as to the medieval church leader’s intentions. «Kill the heretics,» he told his military leaders. «Leave not one alive when the sun sets on that day.»
By now the soldiers were beginning their climb up the hill called Rumer. Joshua had to act fast. Leaving his home, he made his way up the hill by a different route and on the way gathered six of his friends who were as determined as he to stop the scheduled massacre. All were excellent marksmen as well as devoted Bible students.
The men hid behind large boulders, and when the troops rounded a corner on a narrow path seven shots rang out, and seven soldiers fell dead. The guns spoke again, and seven more fell. Those in the lead looked around bewildered. How large was the attacking army? Who would die next?
«Get out of here!» the soldiers shouted to one another. When those in the rear saw their leaders racing back toward them, fear flashed in their faces. Gianavello and his six friends hurried from boulder to boulder, keeping up their deadly fire. Panic gripped the entire army and, without firing a shot, what remained of the 500 men turned and raced back down the valley. They never knew that only seven men and their brave determination to worship God as they saw fit had driven them away.