Monday, 26 May 2014

The Times of London says....

The Times of London reviewed Rev William Gilly’s inspiring book about the Waldensian Church in 1824.  This book inspired General Beckwith to devote his life’s efforts to help this ancient church in the Cottian Alps. The Times lists the financial support that the English had offered the Waldensian valleys down the centuries. England had been supporting the Waldensian pastors since at least since 1655 (if not before):

Oliver Cromwell raised in 1655, £16,000 (about 3 million euros) from a public subscription for the persecuted Waldensian Church some of which was confiscated by Charles II, at the Restoration

William III of Orange (also King of England) renewed these grants to the church. He was a great grandson of Henry of Navarre, the French king who was originally a Protestant, through Henrietta Maria wife of Charles 1st.

His Protestant wife, Queen Mary of England, niece of Charles II, left £500 pa (about 80,000 euros a year) for the support of the pastors of the Waldensian Church and this grant continued until the French occupation of 1797. In today's terms, that would support income for up to four pastors.

The Times also reported on proceedings at an international Sunday School Convention held at the Guildhall, London in 1862, at which the Moderator of the Waldensian Church, Rev B Malan spoke, in French.

Signor Malan
related that the Catholic Church had “ruined the family, conscience and society” of Italy and that the Waldensian Valleys had to look to the Gospels alone. But with the help of its English friends down the centuries, he said that the Waldensian Church had “not failed in its mission”. He continued that there were Sunday Schools in all the Waldensian valleys teaching the Bible to 2000 children. There were also Sunday Schools in all Waldensian missionary stations, "from Mont Blanc to Mount Etna".

The first step in mission in Italy was always establishing a Sunday School in a local house so that Italian children could understand the Bible “in the language of Dante”. He spoke emotionally about the support that General Beckwith had given the Waldensian Church. It was for good reason that England was regarded across Italy as a “bulwark of freedom”.

It is noted in Meille's book about General Beckwith, whose first aim was the education of the children of the Waldensian valleys, that he raised money from his friends in England to cover the labour to built the valleys' Sunday Schools, but he expected the land and material to be donated by the members of the churches - which it was.  The enhanced salaries of the Sunday School teachers which attracted higher calibre teachers was also supplied by voluntary donations from the Waldensian church members.  So the improved primary education of the valleys was a joint effort between outside support and local members.

References
The Times of London - archives (1824 and 1862)
General Beckwith: His Life and Labours among the Waldenses of Piedmont: J P Meille

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