«He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray» (Proverbs 10:17).
The Waldenses were part of a Christian movement that emerged in the twelfth century in France under the leadership of Peter Waldo, who established the main characteristic of the Waldenses: the Bible, and in particular the New Testament, as the only rule of faith and life. One of their common practices was to memorize large portions of Scripture. In addition, they copied the whole Bible or parts of it. Most of them were traders and offered the Word of God to their clients. Throughout their history, several of them denied the supremacy of Rome and kept the Sabbath.
The Waldenses represent the group that most resisted «the intrusions of papal power.» In addition to southern France and northern Italy, there were Waldenses in northern Spain, Austria, and Germany. However, at different times they were brutally repressed and persecuted by papal power. There were also divisions within their own church. After many struggles, several of their leaders grudgingly recognized Roman supremacy. But those who wanted to remain loyal to the faith fled to other countries, solitary valleys, and rocky bulwarks of the mountains. There they formed Waldensian communities, where they took advantage of the fertile land between the mountain ranges so that the valleys and the slopes of the less fertile hills could produce.
The young Waldenses played a fundamental role in this movement, as they were educated to be faithful preachers of the gospel. Some of them were sent to the urban centers to study in the schools there. Their clothes were made to carry portions of the Bible, which they shared with those who wanted to know their message.
In 1487, Pope Innocent VIII promulgated a bull summoning all the Christians to participate in a crusade against the heretics, by dissolving all ecclesiastical penalties for those who participated; in addition, he authorized that they could take possession of their properties, among other things. Then, horrible tragedies, abuses, humiliations, and torture were perpetrated against these servants of God. The young Waldenses endured all of that. But their mission had been fulfilled: they had sown the seed of the gospel in many places, which would germinate later on.
The Waldenses were an example of education and training for missionary service. Today, you, too, can share the message of Jesus wherever you go and, especially, use your intellectual abilities to proclaim the truth of the gospel.