A sect which began in the 12th century. Its name is derived from Peter Waldo (Waldes) who, after a reading of the Gospels, aspired to the life of Christian perfection and took a vow of poverty in 1176. He gathered numerous followers who took the name Poor Men of Lyons and went about preaching his doctrines, attacking the pomp and wealth of the medieval Church. Their tenants include

  • the atoning death and justifying righteousness of Christ
  • the Godhead
  • the fall of man
  • the incarnation of the Son
  • the value of voluntary poverty

They denounced pilgrimages, sacramentals, the veneration of relics, the doctrine of Purgatory, the papacy, and the holding of office by any spiritual leader. Their break with Catholicity was gradual, but in 1184 they were denounced by papal authority.

Their organization has continued to the present, though after the rise of modern Protestantism they came under Calvinistic influence, and are now scarcely to be distinguished from other Protestants. Today, the Waldensian movement is centered on Piedmont in northern Italy, while small communities can also be found in southern Italy, Argentina, Germany, the United States, and Uruguay.

MLA Citation

  • “Waldenses”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 May 2015. Web. 5 July 2020. <>