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.

A fervent publicizer of the Reformation

  • Guillaume Farel (1489-1565) © S.H.P.F.

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

  • Farel's pulpit in Neuchâtel © S.H.P.F.

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.


  • Books
    • 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

Associated notes