By Yutaka Arita
Comparative Studies on Urban Cultures, ed. Tani Tomio, Urban Culture Research Center, Osaka City University (2008)
Introduction: Who were the Waldensians? This is one of the Protestant sects in the Christian Church and the subject of my research. Today, there are 45,000 followers in the world, especially their numbers are concentrated in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy. In the autumn of 2006, I visited their community which is situated near Torino in order to research their history. They are relatively unknown as a Protestant sect that has continued since the Middle Ages, and there are few records about them. I will introduce the history of the Waldensians at this point. Their complete history is too long to explain, so at present, I will only talk about their origin.
First, I will present the founder of the Waldensians. In the Middle Ages, there was a rich merchant in Lyon, France. His name was Pierre Valdès (Peter Waldo). One day, he heard the ancient history of a saint which was narrated by a troubadour in the road. He was entranced and then turned to the Bible. But, he didn’t know how to read Latin, because he was ignorant and the Bible was written in Latin during this period. So he decided to translate it from church Latin into the common language (his native language was most likely Occitan). After he studied it, he started to preach on his own with this translation of parts of the Bible which he financed.