By the time you read these words...
By the time you read these words, I’ll be standing on one of the most sacred sites of truth. History’s saga of the Waldensees (also known as the Vaudois) remains today one of the tragically glowing narratives to shine out of the dark Middle Ages. Their very name “evokes memories of an ancient and honorable ancestry, whose devotion, perseverance, and suffering under persecution have filled some of the brightest pages of religious history, and have earned immortality in Whittier’s charming miniature and Milton’s moving sonnet.” So wrote Leroy Froome in his magnum opus, Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers (v 1, p 829).
As you read these words, we—a collection of Andrews University architecture students and faculty—will be gathered in the dark and cool shadows of an alpine cave above the Piedmont valleys in northern Italy. In that darkness we will embrace two memories: the memory of our Lord Jesus Christ who himself was slaughtered at the behest of church and state as the Savior of the world (in those shadows we will celebrate holy communion); and the memory of over three thousand Waldensian faithful who hid in those very precincts four centuries earlier and who were slaughtered in the infamous and bloody massacre John Milton would eventually immortalize in his sonnet, “On the Late Massacre in Piedmont” (which you may read online). The world and Christendom have long forgotten what began at four in the morning on Saturday, April 24, 1655, in the Italian village of La Torre. But heaven remembers. And we who trek to this sacred site must not forget. Nor should we who live in the relative security of a land we still call Christian.
For in the fulfillment of the Apocalypse’s cryptic warning in Revelation 12—the dark vision of a woman fleeing from the apocalyptic Serpent to the barren wilderness, and there being hidden by God for the long, dark ages of medieval Christianity—in that fulfillment still witnessed to by the silent rocky sentinels of the Piedmonts is the unspoken assurance that the God who has preserved ancient truth through all the bloody centuries since Calvary, is the very God who will proclaim that very truth to this generation through the remnant seed of that very woman.
For as surely as Almighty God called upon the men, women and children of those cloistered valleys long ago, he is calling upon the men, women and children of this generation to embrace the missional legacy of the Waldensian people, captured in their Latin motto, Lux lucet in tenebris. “The light shineth in darkness.” Indeed it did. And indeed it must. Yet. In your life and mine. Shine into the gathering darkness of a culture and world desperate for even the fragments of the only Light that can yet heal this world.
“Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”