Swiss Reformer Pierre Viret
When I research the French Huguenots and early Protestant reformers, the name “Pierre Viret” keeps popping up. Today I finally delved into his fascinating life story and found it full of adventure --- some good, but mostly, unfortunately for Viret, bad. He was born in Switzerland in 1511. Sometime around the late 1520s he began studying in Paris and came in contact with Protestant ideas. Still very young, he came back to Switzerland and was accepted as a minister.
Viret had a certain charm and forcefulness in his speech that convinced many to espouse the Protestant cause. These converts included his parents, to whom he now had the opportunity to teach a new and liberating doctrine of grace. Viret, unlike other reformers, was perceived as being cheerful, open, and exuberant. He was called “The Smile of the Reformation,” and many counted him a dear friend. At one point he shared a strong friendship with John Calvin as well. But his enemies cared little for his “smile.” To them he was a threat.
Unlike most reformers, who went through life relatively physically unscathed, Pierre Viret was twice attacked by his enemies. The first such attack was at the hand of a priest when Viret was only in his early twenties. The assailant waited until Viret passed through a field and then attempted to put him to the sword. The young minister recovered, though slowly. Somehow he managed to take even this horrific event in stride when he later said, “We much prefer that you speak publicly to us, instead of waiting in the fields to murder us, of which our backs bear testimony.”
At age twenty-three he was poisoned in Geneva and somehow managed to survive this attack as well. God’s hand was upon Pierre Viret. He never completely recovered, however, and was further weakened by the loss of his wife Elisabeth in 1545. The 1550s were full of doing the Lord's work. In the early 1560s he moved on from such famous cities as Lausanne and Geneva to France, spurred on by a virulent illness and the need to gain strength. Frenchmen were treated to his tender manner and efficiency in preaching Scripture, and many, including a number of monks, were converted.
The lion of a man known as Pierre Viret died in 1571. His success was immeasurable, and his suffering seemed insurmountable, but he was victorious nonetheless.
(c) 2012 Joyously Saved