The Waldensians are a pre-reformation reformed sect of Christianity.  They believed in the priesthood of all believers, translating the scripture into the "common" languages of the people of the day and encouraging education so that all people could read the Bible for themselves.  A simple people, they were dedicated to taking care of the poor and justice for the oppressed.  The Waldensian Community was excommunicated by the Catholic Church in 1184 at the Synod of Verona.  Pope Innocent the 3rd went even further in 1215 declaring all Waldensians heretics. Forced to renounce their religious stances or flee, the small community of believers sought refuge in the Cottian Alps, where life was somewhat protected by the rugged landscape and isolation.  Even so, the Waldenses were heavily persecuted by both the Catholic Church and the Reigning Monarchs throughout the region.  Perhaps one of the bloodiest episodes in the history of their faith was in 1655 in a series of persecutions known as the Piedmontese Easter.  In this series of massacres it is said that thousands of Waldensians were murdered for their faith.  It is a mere 30 years later that our play begins. Total annihilation of the Waldensian Faith was the aim, yet throughout all the years of persecution, their faith remained and grew stronger.  This is the backdrop to our story.

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Burke County Public Library: Valdese Branch

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The Arrival

The art installation depicts the arrival of the original Waldensian settlers who came to Valdese on May 29th, 1893 as they departed the “No. 11” train at the Valdese Depot.