Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Forterocca sits at the foot of the Italian Alps. Eight miles to our left is the French border. Directly behind the facility, wedged between some of the mountains, stands a very pointy sort of—well, either a mountain or rock, I can’t quite say, but it is quite distinct. To the right of that pointy rock/mountain, there is a cliff, which requires an hour and a half to hike up to. And to this cliff, the Waldensians were marched, and from this cliff, Waldensians were pushed to their death—in such numbers, that the river below ran red. Who were these Waldensians, and why were they pushed to their deaths?
“Although there is some dispute over the origin of the Waldensians, most historians consider Peter Waldo, after whom they were named, to be the founder of the movement.
“Although almost nothing is known of Peter's early life, it is known that he was the son of a rich merchant in Lyons, France, and that he inherited his father's wealth. No one knows the date of his birth, but his death was in 1218; which puts him very early in the Middle Ages, a child of the Twelfth Century.
“Troubled by his wealth, the fact that it had been increased through usury, and the obvious worldliness of his life, Peter asked his priest concerning the best way to God. He was told, as was common in those days, that the way to God was to sell all that he had, give to the poor, and follow Christ.
“Peter did not hesitate to follow what to him was a clear command of his Lord. Because he was married, he provided sufficient money for his wife; he placed his daughters in a convent to be cared for there; he paid back all those from whom he had taken usury; and he gave everything else he owned to the poor.
“Peter Waldo gathered about him a small group of men who began to translate the Scriptures into the vernacular and began to assume the responsibilities of preaching. They were known by different names: The Brethren in Christ; The Poor in Christ; The Poor in Spirit; but finally became known by the name of their founder, Peter Waldo. They lived lives of total poverty and dedication to God.”
In the first picture, taken by David Wheeler, you can see the "Rock" described above. In the second picture, although you can't really see it, you can get an idea of where it is in relation to Forterocca: directly behind the property, behind the tree; nestled between the mountains, you might be able to make out the point top of the Rock, and the cliff to the right.