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Pierre Viret.
Pierre Viret (Orbemarker 1511 - Orthezmarker 1571) was a Swissmarker Reformed theologian.


Pierre Viret, a learned theologian and close friend of John Calvin, was born in Orbe, a small town located in present-day Switzerland in 1511. His parents were of the middle class.

Viret studied as a scholar in his hometown school and then attended the University of Parismarker, where he was converted to the Reformed faith. He returned to Orbe in 1531 to escape the persecutions in Paris.


William Farel, a Protestant preacher, called Viret to the ministry at his return to Orbe. On May 6, 1531, Viret preached his first sermon. He was only twenty years old at the time. His preaching was received with astonishment and acclamation by his hearers, and many were soon converted to the Reformed Faith, among whom were both Viret's parents.Subsequently, he preached in Lausannemarker and Genevamarker, before missionary tours in Francemarker, preaching to crowds of thousands (Parismarker, Orléansmarker, Avignonmarker, Montaubanmarker, and Montpelliermarker). His preaching was sweet and winning, and won him the name of "The Smile of the Reformation."

One time, he was captured by Catholic forces. In France, Viret was considered as one of the most popular French-speaking preacher in 16th century.

But before all, he was the reformer of the city of Lausannemarker, where he converted the local population to the Reformation faith. In his time, Lausanne also became, with Geneva, a training ground for Reformation preachers. Among those who studied in Lausanne was the author of the Belgic Confession, Guido (Guy) de Bres. While at Lausanne, Viret founded a Reformed Academy, which was forced to relocate to Geneva in 1559. The relocated professors and students of Viret’s Lausanne Academy soon became the foundation of Calvin’s famed Geneva Academy.

Bibliographic sources

  • Linder, Robert D. "Forgotten Reformer." Christian History.
  • "Viret, Pierre." Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation
  • Procedures Held With Regard to those of the Religion of the Netherlands (1568)

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