Pierre Viret was born to a devout middle-class Roman Catholic family in Orbe, a small town now in Switzerland. Viret studied as a scholar in his hometown school and then attended the University of Paris, where he was converted to the Reformed faith. He returned to Orbe in 1531 to escape the persecutions in Paris.

William Farel, a Protestant preacher, called Viret to the ministry upon his return to Orbe. On 6 May 1531 Viret preached his first sermon at the age of twenty. His preaching was received with astonishment and acclamation by his hearers, and many were converted to the Reformed Faith, among them were both Viret’s parents. Subsequently, he preached in Lausanne and Geneva before undertaking missionary tours in France, preaching to crowds of thousands in ParisOrlĂ©ansAvignonMontauban, and Montpellier. His preaching was sweet and winning, and won him the name of “The Smile of the Reformation.”

At one time he was captured by Catholic forces. Viret was considered one of the most popular French-speaking preachers in the 16th century. Above all, he was the reformer of the city of Lausanne, where he converted the local population to the Reformed faith. In his time Lausanne and Geneva became training grounds for Reformation preachers. Among those who studied in Lausanne was the author of the Belgic ConfessionGuy de Brès. While at Lausanne, Viret founded a Reformed Academy, which was forced to relocate to Geneva in 1559 where he was appointed a preacher to that city. The relocated professors and students of Viret’s Lausanne Academy soon became the foundation of Calvin’s famed Geneva Academy.

For health reasons Viret left Geneva and moved to Southern France where he preached among the Huguenots. He died in Orthez, France, in 1571.

Noted as a Swiss Reformed theologian and Protestant reformer, Viret was also a close friend of John Calvin.

References

  1.  ‘Book V: Struggles of the Reformation, Chapter III: A New Reformer and an Image-Breaker (1531)’, in J.H. Merle d’AubignĂ© (translated by W.L.R. Cates), History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin, 8 volumes (Longmans, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green, London 1863-1878), Vol III: France, Switzerland, Geneva (1864), pp. 262-76 at Project Gutenberg. See also reprint, (Sprinkle Publications, Harrisonburg, VA, 2000).
  2. Michael W. Bruening, Calvinism’s First Battleground: Conflict and Reform in the Pays de Vaud, 1528-1559 (Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, 2005), page 254.

Wikipedia.org accessed 28 February 2022.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

1415 – The second Great Schism where rival popes claimed to rule Christendom. In 1414 one of the claimants, Pope John XXIII, called together a church council in the city of Constance to end this schism. The pope on his knees— vowed before God, the Church, and this Holy Council to give peace to the Church by abdication, provided the pretenders, Benedict and Gregory, do the same. Then fled for his life. However, the Holy Council tracked him down—condemned him for scandalous conduct, and officially deposed him. In time, it successfully ended the Great Schism.

1631Job Boretsky, an Orthodox metropolitan in the Ukraine, noted for his defense of the Orthodox faith, his poetry, writings, and translations; died.

1874 – Murder of Protestant missionary John Luther Stephens in Ahualulco, Mexico, by a mob stirred up by a local Catholic priest. Stephens had recently begun work at this “outpost” where he taught night schools and found many listeners for impromptu sermons and lessons.

1898 – At Australia’s Constitutional Convention, Patrick Glynn, a Roman Catholic member, asks for an amendment in the preamble to say the people of the colonies, “humbly relying upon the blessing of almighty God,” agree to unite into an indissoluble commonwealth. His proposal is accepted by the majority over the jeers of secularists.

1907 – Chicago evangelist William Durham, visiting the Asuza Street Mission in Los Angeles, speaks in tongues. Pentecostal leader William J. Seymour predicts that wherever Durham speaks the Holy Spirit will fall on people.

1990Christians are physically assaulted by Muslims at the Egyptian city of Abu Qurqas and the towns of Beni Ebid and al-Berba. Five churches are severely damaged along with more than forty other properties belonging to Christians.

ChristianHistoryInstitute.org and Rhemalogy.com accessed 28 February 2020.

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