Origins and Beginnings

This group of heretics was formed in approximately 1170 AD, and was named after its founder, a man called Waldes. A citizen of Lyons in France, Waldes was a wealthy man who forfeited his riches to live in poverty and evangelical perfection. His primary motivation was to imitate the apostles.

For his own purposes, Waldes organised a translation of the Gospels and some other books of the Bible into French. He then translated some authoritative sayings of St Augustine, St Jerome, St Ambrose and St Gregory which he arranged under titles and were known to him and his followers as "sentences". The Waldensians read these often, but barely understood them as they were largely illiterate.

Nevertheless, the group were infatuated with their interpretation and usurped the position of the apostles, by preaching in the streets and other public areas. Waldes converted many people, both men and women, and sent them out to preach as his disciples. These "disciples" were unlearned and in the most part, quite ignorant. They travelled to many towns, entering houses and preaching in public places including churches, spreading false information.

At one stage, they were summoned by the archbishop of Lyons, Lord Jean aux Belles-Mains, and were forbidden to preach their ideas and "sentences". The Waldensians refused to obey the archbishop, stating that it was necessary to obey God rather than man. They then went on to say that God had commanded the apostles to preach to all men, taking the role upon themselves and declaring that they were the apostles successors by profession of their poverty and sanctity. They scorned the prelates and clergy of their time for abounding in riches and living in relative luxury.

Refusing to obey the orders of the archbishop, the Waldensians were declared contumacious and were eventually excommunicated and expelled from Lyons and from their country. In a council held in Rome before the Lateran council, they again proved themselves to be obstinate, and as a result, they were judged schismatic, and finally condemned as heretics. As their numbers grew, they dispersed through that province and into the surrounding regions, and on into Lombardy. Thus separated from the Church, they began to mingle with other heretics and they mixed their own ideas and heresies with those of earlier heretics.

Beliefs of the Waldensian Heretics
The Waldensian Heretics way of life
The teachings of Waldensian Heretics
How the Waldensian Heretics avoided the detection

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