A fervent publicizer of the Reformation
Guillaume Farel was born in Gap (in the South-East of France) in a noble family, and studied in Paris where he met Lefèvre d’Etaples, a scientist and humanist. He taught grammar and philosophy. He belonged to the “Cenacle” of Meaux created by bishop Briçonnet to try and reform the Church from within.
He broke away from Catholicism as soon as 1521. He was influenced by Zwingli and brought the Reformation to Basel, Strasbourg, Bern and eventually Neuchâtel that adopted the Reformation in 1530.
A reformer in Switzerland
The Bern authorities appointed him to promote the Reformation all over French-speaking Switzerland. His zeal and enthusiasm brought him a lot of enemies.
In 1532 at the Chanforans synod, he won the Waldenses over to the Reformation.
Farel largely contributed to win Geneva over to the Reformation in 1536, and begged Calvin to join and help him. The city council thought their reforms were too drastic, and banished them. Farel settled in Neuchâtel to be the first pastor but continued to travel and preach until his death.
He was the author of the first liturgy in French The Summary in 1524.
- BARTHEL Pierre, SCHEURER Rémy et STAUFFER Richard (éd.), Actes du colloque Guillaume Farel, Cahiers de la Revue de théologie et de philosophie, Neuchâtel, 1983, Tome 1, p. 107-123
- HEYER Henri, Guillaume Farel : An introduction to his theology, E. Mellen press, New York, 1990
Jacques Lefèvre d'Etaples (1450-1537)
Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples was a theologian who founded the “Cenacle of Meaux” and was the first to translate the Bible into French.
Jean Calvin (1509-1564)
A generation after Luther, the Frenchman Jean Calvin became the organiser of the Reformation : he organised the Church, shaped the doctrine and defined the role of the Church in state government.
Théodore de Bèze (1519-1605)
Theodore Beza was one of the most prominent figures in the Reform movement. He supported Calvin and succeeded him as moderator, i.e. president, of the Company of pastors in Geneva. He relentlessly defended the Calvinist doctrine, the discipline of the Church and its synodal-Presbyterian organisation. He left noteworthy historic and literary writings. The only aim of his actions was to strengthen the Reform movement assaulted by Roman Catholicism and rivaled by German Lutheranism.
Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531)
Zwingli, a pastor and theologian, based the Reformation on Bible study. In his opinion the Reformation comprised fighting social injustice.
The "Cenacle of Meaux" (1521-1525)
The “Cenacle of Meaux” was founded in 1521 by Lefèvre d’Etaples ; its function was to encourage reflexion on the Scriptures and to spread new ideas – notably, it advocated the preaching of the Scriptures in the parishes.
The Calvinist Reformation in 16th century
The Reformation later known as Calvinist movement was launched by several reformers and spread to many parts of Europe, from Zurich and Geneva.
Martin Bucer (1491-1551)
He was born in Alsace, was a humanist and tried all his life long to safeguard the unity of the Church.
Olivétan is well-known for his French translation of the Bible, referred to as Olivétan’s Bible. It was the first Bible ever to be translated into French from the original Hebrew and Greek texts. It is also known as “the martyrs’ Bible”.
Guillaume Farel (1489-1565)
Farel was the reformer of French-speaking Switzerland, precisely in the Neuchâtel area. He was a preacher but also an organiser and author of a liturgy in French.