Of witches and Waldenses

The Waldenses are depicted as broom-riding witches in this Catholic manuscript, seriously.

The Waldenses are depicted as broom-riding witches in this Catholic manuscript, seriously.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Martyr’s Mirror is not a uniformly edited work, but a collection of accounts and materials stretching over several hundred years. As I’m moving into accounts of persecutions of the 13th Century, I keep seeing the name “Waldenses.” The name, origin or faith of this sect is not introduced or explained immediately, so I turned to my usual shorthand reference – Wikipedia.

The entry for the Waldenses appears to be heavily informed by an entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia, so expect a papist bias. It is no doubt that the Waldenses were heretical (as was anything that didn’t originate in Rome), but the Church accounts of the group are undercut by the obvious smear job they laid on the sect.  (see picture).

What intrigues me more, though, is the Mirror‘s insistance on including Waldenses’ persecutions in a history of Anabaptist martyrs. The Waldenses fancied themselves to be churches of Apostolic Succession, started by St. Paul. It appears that, by including ancient martyrs and the trials of the Waldenses, the Mirror is trying to draw a link between the ancients, the Waldenses and the Anabaptists (which had similar beliefs of pacifism and rejection of Papal authority) to create the impression of Apostolic Succession.

The Catholic Church, of course, refutes the Waldenses’ (and the Anabaptists’) claims of succession (as do many scholars). However, given the political assumption of the church by Emperor Constantine and the less then savory politics surrounding the papacy in later centuries, it’s hard to take the Roman Church’s own claims of apostolic succession at face value.


4 Responses to “Of witches and Waldenses”

  1. You obviously don’t know the early history of Catholicism. Because Constantine legalized Catholicism as the state religion, and expected certain concessions because of it does not mean what you insinuate. And since the apostles themselves were sinners, as were their successors, the Church’s claim to apostolic succession has every ounce of veracity.

    The Waldenses were excommunicated simply because they refused to obey the Pope and chose to interpret the scriptures themselves rather than how it was understood for the first 1100 years of Chrisitianity.

  2. OriginalSinnick Says:

    Insinuate? Not at all! Fuzzy clearly states that ever since the time of the Anabaptists their successors have been attempting to establish a clear historical lineage and have failed to do so. The Waldensian era is a very frayed section of this gossamer thread.

  3. on the contrary David, i think it is you who needs to read your Church history. Constantine did not tgive the stamp of approval to the Roman Catholic church as the “true religion” but rather he recognised Christianity as the medium of religion for the state. And most importantly, he lifted off the lingering persecution against Christianity. Not forgetting the term catholic simply refers to universal hence the catholic church meant the universal church, the Roman Catholic, the Eastern Orthodox included.

    • Marvellous, considering that the Catholic Church truly was the universal church at the time of Constantine, we’re saying the same thing. There was no Eastern Orthodox at the time. God bless!

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