If the rocks could talk, what a tale they would tell.
If the rocks could talk, what a tale they would tell. Having just returned from four days in the Piedmont valleys of northwestern Italy with a class of architecture students here at Andrews University, I can only imagine the stories that are etched deep into the crags of the rocky sentinels that guard the seven valleys of the Waldenses. Jetlagged I woke up early our first morning beside the Pellice River and walked the valley just as the first orange rays of sunlight were illuminating the ragged snow-capped peaks ringing the green fields and forests beneath them. A thousand years earlier clusters of men, women and children—faithful to the witness of Christ and his truth—had lived in small granite walled and roofed houses, the ruins of which still dot these valleys.
And into the pagan darkness of the Middle Ages those Waldensian alpine communities shined the light of unbroken truth, passed on from generation to generation. In fact it is to them we owe the preservation of Holy Scripture, taught to their children, memorized by their youth, painstakingly hand copied onto parchment by the adults and hidden away in their mountain refuges.
But the crimson tragedy of Waldensian history has proved true the words of Christ: “And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). And so history painfully chronicles the horror of those brutal crusading armies, sent on their mission of extermination by the powers that dwelt in the plains of Italy. We stood atop the Castelluzzo, a towering rocky promenade over a thousand feet above the Pellice banks, where entire communities of Waldenses were hurled off that precipice. We walked the streets of the ancient La Torre village where the canons boomed at 4 a.m. on April 24, 1655, the prearranged signal to begin the massacre of its unsuspecting citizens. They still remember that extermination as “Bloody Easter.” So unspeakable was that crime against humanity that when Sir Oliver Cromwell read the eye-witness accounts of the slaughter, he declared a day of fasting and prayer across England.
And yet, as Tertullian observed, “the blood of martyrs is seed.” The seed of Revelation 12’s woman. The remnant seed of the woman that the dragon will yet turn his wrath upon (v 17). But from that seed of faithful witness God will yet reap a global harvest of saved men, women and children. Having just returned from His alpine harvest fields of long ago, I recommit my life to the Christ of the Waldenses and to the truth he preserved through them. And I invite you to do the same. For if seed is what God yet needs, then let us be that seed He would plant in the valleys where we live.