Posts by Simonetta Carr

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Vincenzo Paravicino was one of the many Italians who lived in today’s Swiss Canton of Grisons. He was born in 1595 in Traona, in a scenic valley on the Italian side of the Alps, known as Valtellina. After completing his basic studies at Zurich’s Collegium Carolinum, he moved to the University of...
Wibrandis Rosenblatt – A Quiet Matriarch Wibrandis Rosenblatt (1504-1564) is often nicknamed “the Bride of the Reformation,” because she became successively the wife of four men, three of whom were famous Reformers. Her memory is often limited to this oddity, and her voice to a couple of letters...
Jan Hus is often considered a disciple of the English John Wycliffe and imitator of his views. In reality, much of his thought developed independently, along similar lines. Born in Husinec, southern Bohemia (approximately in the same area as today’s Czech’s republic), Hus studied at the prestigious...
On December 18, 1381, 15-year old Anne crossed the British Channel with her large entourage. It was a wretched time for travel, but she was on her last stretch of her 700-miles journey from Prague. It was the season for storms, but thankfully the winds rose only after her crossing, destroying her...
Anyone who felt perplexed – even outraged – the first time they read Romans 9 may identify with Thomas Bradwardine, a 14 th -century Archbishop of Canterbury. His age was, like ours, entrenched in Pelagianism, exalting man’s free will and ability to come to God on his own terms. That’s the...
On 24 July, 1536, Conrad Cordatus heard a lecture that troubled him deeply. While commenting on the Gospel of John, the Lutheran preacher Caspar Cruciger said, “Christ alone is the meritorious cause; meanwhile, it is true, in a way, that man must be active in a manner; we must be contrite, and must...
Around 392 AD, 57-year old Aurelius Prudentius Clemens, native of Spain, decided to examine his life. The years had flown by, and he found himself suddenly old. He was, in reality, old according the standards of his time, and his white hair (“the snow on my head” [1] ) stood as witness of the many...
Few Medieval Christians would profess to be in disagreement with Augustine of Hippo and his writings about grace. Yet, many praised him and contradicted him at the same time. Copyists were in part to blame. Given the high price of hand-copied books, many chose to produce collections of quotations...
“I found all the churches filled, in defiance of the precept of Truth, with those sluttish abominations - images. Since everyone was worshiping them, I undertook singlehanded to destroy them.” These were not the words of a Protestant Reformer. Their author was a ninth-century bishop, Claudius of...
Little is known about Ratramnus. He was a Benedictine monk at Corbie Abbey, in Picardy, France, who had gained an excellent reputation as scholar and writer. Besides his work on the Lord’s Supper ( On the Body and Blood of the Lord ), he wrote several books, including a popular treatise in four...
At the beginning of the seventh century, the decision of the Council of Chalcedon that Jesus had two natures, human and divine, indivisible but distinct, was still not universally accepted. Even if the Council had specified that the expression “two natures” doesn’t mean that Jesus is “parted or...
Pierre Durand was born in a turbulent France. In 1685, only 15 years before his birth, France’s king Louis XIV (“Le Roi Soleil”), revoked the 1598 Edict of Nantes, which had been allowing Protestants freedom of worship. Louis’s persecution against Huguenots (French Protestants) had been gradual –...
Philip Melanchthon was a brilliant scholar (one of the greatest Greek interpreters of his day), an insightful theologian, and Martin Luther’s right-hand man. Today, his memory is often limited to his mention in some of Luther’s most famous quotations. He was, for example, the indecisive companion...
John Knox considered Anne Locke one of his dearest friends and valued her advice and support. He confided in her at some the most difficult times of his life, even in the midst of military battles. In spite the scarcity of information about her life, Anne’s influence was obvious not only in Knox’s...
Basil of Caesarea is mostly known for his theological clarity at a time when important Christian doctrines on the Trinity and the nature of Christ were being debated and refined. A few know him for his charitable works on behalf of the poor and ill. In a day when charities abound, it’s difficult to...
As the news challenge us to think biblically about the place of women in today’s world, it might be useful to remember there was a time when women were discouraged from reading, studying, and thinking independently. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church’s opposition to the translation of Scriptures in...
Many see Jonathan Edwards as a terrifying preacher. Some consider him one of the greatest American theologians. A few know a couple of endearing details of his life, such as his loving relationship with his wife Sarah. Very few know him as a father. A Large Family Born on October 5, 1703, in East...
If it’s true, as the ancient Tertullian said, that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church,” much seed has been sown on Turkish soil, from the 2 nd -century martyrdom of Polycarp to the massacre of Christian Armenians in 1915 (where 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives). And these are...
As we watch news of North Korea and pray for that gospel-deprived country, it might be encouraging to remember the rapidity and intensity with which Christianity spread within the still undivided Korea in just a few decades. One of the most influential missionaries in Korea was Horace Grant...
I have heard Roman Catholics say that the Council of Trent brought great improvements to the church. If so, the improvements barely touched Italy, where the religious authorities continued to hide criminal acts and the Bible disappeared for centuries from the hands of the laity. In fact, at the...
Facing the opposition of a government that equated religious syncretism with peace, Peter Plancius persisted in pointing out the doctrinal errors of fellow pastor Jacob Arminius. It was not, as some historians think, a needless fastidiousness. Arminius’s teachings implied a different view of the...
In 841, Dhuoda’s world fell apart. William, the son she had nurtured and loved for fourteen years, had just left for Aachen (in today’s Germany), to live at the Frankish court. It had been a sudden decision, made by Dhuoda’s husband Bernard in order to prove his allegiance to the new king, Charles...
In 1618, the situation in Europe was tense. The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) was only a natural consequence of the religious and political conflicts of the previous century. On top of this, the Protestant camp was becoming dangerously divided by what many recognized as a semi-Pelagian tendency at...
The first meeting between Vittoria Colonna and Michelangelo Buonarroti (probably around 1537) was the start of a long and deep friendship. It was also, in some ways, uncommon. As a famed noblewoman, she was used to the company of artists, poets, and writers, but Michelangelo was one of a kind. His...
Ephrem was still a young man when his quick understanding, knowledge of Scriptures, literary skills, and love for the church captured the attention of the local bishop. Jacob had been bishop of the Christian community of Nisibis (a commercial center on the Persian border) since 309, when Ephrem was...
Tempers ran high at the Synod of Dordt. By January 1619, Francis Gomarus, Reformed minister and veteran professor at the University of Leiden, had come to take some Remostrants’ opinions on the extent of Christ’s atoning sacrifice as a personal offense. “ Ego hanc rem in me recipio ” (“I take this...
The Cappadocian Fathers (Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory of Nazianzus) are well known for their theological contributions to the doctrines of the Trinity and the nature of Christ. Basil’s and Gregory of Nyssa’s sister Macrina is less known, in spite of the powerful influence she...
The first part of John Newton’s life is well known. Born in 1725 in Wapping, London, he lived a turbulent youth, dominated, from age 17, by compelling feelings of love for Mary Catlett, known as Polly. The impulsiveness of these feelings conflicted with his father’s plans to set him up for a...
1773 didn’t start well for William Cowper. In spite of seemingly comfortable circumstances, he felt pressured by both hurtful local gossip and well-meaning friendly advice into making a decision he was just not able to make. He had been lodging with a pious family, the Unwins, for almost ten years...
Seventeenth-century England was a time of uncertainty, upheaval, and questions, a time of civil and religious wars, revolutions, plague and fire. Books and articles tell us of the people who made history: James VI of Scotland and I of England, Charles I and the regicides, Elizabeth the Winter Queen...
The Protestant Reformation created some new questions in love relationships. For example, what’s an appropriate way for a Protestant preacher to propose to a lady or, even worse, for a former monk to propose to a former nun, without aggravating the accusations of Roman Catholics who accused...
Sixteenth-century Reformers were not the first to advocate the translation of the Bible and church liturgy in the language of the people. Nor were they the first to suffer opposition. Two 9 th -century brothers from Thessalonica faced a similar struggle as they worked together to bring the...
Some of the most influential women in church history were princesses or queens, who had the ability to establish a state religion according to their convictions. At a time when cuius regio, eius religio (whose realm, his religion) was in order, the Protestant church prospered best under Protestant...
On the vigil of Easter in 379, a group composed mostly of monks and women rushed into a church, attacked the congregants, wounded the preacher, and killed another bishop. They were not terrorists. They were followers of the doctrines of Arius, a previous priest who had opposed the notion of a fully...
Paolo Sarpi is not a familiar name in American discussions of the Protestant Reformation but was well known in 16th-century Europe. As was often the case, particularly in firmly Roman Catholic countries like Italy, placing a precise label on Sarpi’s theological beliefs is difficult and counter-...
William Tyndale’s English translation of the New Testament, first published in 1526, was met with sharp disapproval in England – not only because it was common knowledge that Scriptures should not be placed in the hands of the uneducated masses, but also because of the translation itself...
As we approach Christmas, it’s appropriate to reflect on Christ’s incarnation. This is what Athanasius, fourth-century bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, did in his treatise On the Incarnation of the Word. Expanding his explanation from Christ’s role in creation to His final glory in the second coming,...
Being a single mother was common in the sixteenth century, when wars and pestilence claimed the lives of many husbands. Most widows returned to their family homes or relied on the support of the local church. They often remarried. Anne Hooper focused on raising her daughter Rachel and promoting her...
On November 19, 1590, the Italian Reformer Girolamo Zanchi died while visiting the University of Heidelberg where he had once been professor of theology. He was buried with honors. His epitaph read, “Here lie the bones of the Italian Zanchi, exiled from his homeland for love of Christ.” The epitaph...
If Augustine of Hippo was with us today, he might spend his birthday as he did shortly after his conversion, when he lived in Cassiciago, 25 miles north of Milan, Italy. “After a meal light enough as not to hinder mental work,” he wrote, “I invited to the public baths all the people who lived with...
Thomas Cranmer is often remembered for his last dramatic hours of this life. After signing four documents of submission to papal authority and two statements of recantation of his previous beliefs, he shocked his large complacent audience by turning his last repentance speech into a repudiation of...
As we celebrate the 500 th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, it’s good to travel back about 1400 earlier, when a concerned pastor and missionary to today’s France sat down to write a well-informed and comprehensive work, in order to provide some clarity in his confused theological times...
On August 22, 1572, while Paris was lingering in the celebrating mood after the wedding between Henry, King of Navarre, and Marguerite de Valois, sister of King Charles IX of France, 16-year old Louise de Coligny received some terrible news. Her father Gaspard had been shot. Thankfully, he was...
October 11 marks the 486 th anniversary of the death of Huldrych Zwingli (1484 – 1531) at the Battle of Kappel, where he acted as chaplain and flag-bearer for the troops. In spite of being one of the key protagonists of the Protestant Reformation, he is mostly known today for his disagreements with...
In 1563, the Protestant scholar John Foxe published a book with the typically long title Actes and Monuments of these latter and perilous days, touching matters of the Church, wherein are comprehended and described the great persecutions and horrible troubles that have been wrought and practiced by...
Katherine Parr’s life is punctuated by danger, action, and scandal. We usually remember her close brush with death, when a powerful group of courtesans plotted to destroy her. Some may remember her contested marriage to Thomas Seymour, who kept the gossiping tongues of London happily wagging...
A simple Google search of “Olympia Morata” and “feminist” yields 6,530 results. Some call her “a forgotten, feminist voice” or “a feminist in Renaissance Italy.” These definitions would have puzzled her. She was highly esteemed in her day, but for different reasons. A Child Prodigy We don’t know...
On 17 August 1560, the Scottish Parliament read twice and with great care a newly drafted Confession of Faith. It was an important document for a transformed nation that had just won the right to abandon Roman Catholic worship and adopt a Protestant theology, liturgy, and church order. A Little...
On his 23 rd birthday, 10 August 1559, Caspar Olevianus had a chance to preach his first sermon in German in a lecture hall at Trier, Germany (his birthplace). He had been waiting long for this moment. His love for the gospel had bloomed in his college days, when he had first come into contact with...
Giulia Gonzaga’s early life sounds like a fairy tale. At age 20, she was already one of the most envied women in Italy. She owned large properties and her castle was a favorite meeting place for artists, poets, and musicians. She was considered the most beautiful woman in the country. Yet, she was...