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My Personal Family Histories

It is necessary that I explain to you how these populations of French-speaking mountain dwellers grouped in the valleys of the Piedmont in the Middle Age and how they subsisted as a sociological and religious independent group over the course of some centuries.

It is toward the year 1170 that constituted, in Lyons (France), a movement of lay preachers, under the guidance of a Lyon businessman, by the name of Pierre Valdes, who had made vow of poverty to better serve Christ and to carry the Gospel to the poor populations in the language of the people. The Church at the time disregarded many of the preachings and people poorly knew the Gospel. And it is in these various migrations that some people of the Piedmont, specifically some Bonjour, arrived in Switzerland. A generation after Valdes, Francois of Assise, attempted the same thing, but the Church, reclaimed the movement that he launched in order to make it a very integrated order in the Church, the order of the Franciscans, Pierre Valdes was excommunicated by Rome (afterwards have been for a time recognized by the pope and must continue only its preachings with the community must continue only its preachings with the group which formed around him and his companions.There was a similar movement on the other side of the Alps: the "Poor of Lombardie," and some similar initiatives elsewhere in Europe.

It was a clandestine way of the Church testified one reform of the Church of the necessity, reform which spoke even in the Church, but that some [conviles] didn't also manage to make use of it. The movement "valdois" (or "vaudois," of Valdes) was violently persecuted by the Church and it is in order to flee this persecution that he settled in the remote valleys some mountains, then passed the collars in order to find some earths on him pouring Italian some Alps, precisely in this that one calls the "valleys [vaudoises] of Piedmont."It is the that this kid populates is maintained until our days, continuing of French speaking until our era; it is only under the dictatorship of Mussolini that one tempted of the "[Italianiser]." It is not astonishing that when the Deferment spread in Europe, to the following of Luther, then especially of Calvin to Geneva, the "Vaudois of Piedmont" rejoined the reformed Church. From the beginning of their communities, they had worshipped in French, and celebrated the Holy Communion with the two species, based all their faith and their life on the Bible. The Reformation allowed to them to leave of their religious isolation.

But before the Reformation, then that was born the end of XIVe (14th) century and in the following the movements of Wiclef in England and of Jean Hus in Bohemian and Moravie, some of these mountain dwellers of Piedmont had already rejoined these communities or were in contact with them. It is probably impossible to have precise documentation on this subject. Some of these Bonjour became bourgeois of Lignieres, in this who was then the County of Neuchatel; of other is set to Blonay and Saint-Legier, two villages of canton of Vaud (notes that Vaud doesn't have anything to see with Valdes, [bein] that the inhabitants of this canton also are named "Vaudois"!). To the Piedmont, the "Vaudois" was again persecuted often by the House of Savoie to the XVIe (16th)and XVIIe (17th) century Clergymen, it is especially with the reformed Churches of Switzerland that they remained in contact until our days.

Fred Bonjour

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