Cloud of Witnesses

Cloud of Witnesses

Happy birthday, John Calvin! It’s been 508 years since you were born in your beloved France. How should we celebrate? If you were here, would you join us?
It was 1543. North of the Alps, Protestant reformers were busy publishing books. In Rome, the papacy was busy banning them. Still, the publishers in Venice, a proudly independent republic with a reputation of opposition to the pope, were persistent. That year’s best-seller was an Italian essay by a...
On June 28, 1586, the Slovenian Reformer Primož Trubar died in Derendingen, in the Holy Roman Empire. Almost unknown in the US, he is a national hero in Slovenia. His portrait has appeared on banknotes, coins, and postage stamps, and his life has been told and retold in books, articles, and even a...
By the 19th century, the story of Lady Jane Grey, the young queen who succeeded Edward VI for less than two weeks, had already been heavily fictionalized, romanticized, politicized, and reinvented. The famous painting by Paul Delaroche, The Execution of Lady Jane Grey (1833), is a classic example...
In occasion of Father’s Day, I diverge from the usual mini-bios to peek into the lives of some fathers who lived during the Reformation, with all the struggles and joys this task embraced.
Three countries claim Anselm as their own. To the Italians, he is Anselmo d’Aosta (of Aosta, the Alpine city where he was born around 1033). To the French, he is Anselme du Bec (of Bec, where he first entered monastic life in 1060). To the English (and the English-speaking world), he is Anselm of...
Michelangelo’s last sculpture is puzzling – two imprecise figures of Jesus and Mary melting into one, with a fragment of Jesus’s right arm detached from his body. It’s the Pietà Rondanini, the third and last pietà sculpted by the artist, very far from his first and meticulously detailed Vatican...
The Jesuit Jean Pelletier, called by Duke Ercole II of Este to put a stop to the dangerous “Lutheran” practices of his wife Renée, was not impressed by his conversation with the duchess. “The poor woman has no education,” he wrote to his Father Superior, Ignatius of Loyola. “She only knows a few...
Today, the title First Blast of the Trumpet against the monstrous regiment of women evokes images of an approaching army of terrifying woman-like creatures. Its author, John Knox, meant something quite different. It was the title of a short treatise on government (regiment = rule) held by women, a...
When Vermigli got news that an invitation by church officials to a meeting in Genoa, Italy, was really a call to an interrogation, he realized he had three options: deny (at least outwardly) his faith, face the possibility of torture and death, or flee. He chose the third one. At least he could...