Today I want to tell you about two temples: the first one is very modern, while the other one is ancient and with long and interesting history.
When you get to the square of Prali, in Germanasca Valley, you can immediately see a temple with a large stone façade: that’s the place of worship which is used today, and it was built in the 60s.
If you look on your right, in the other hand, we can see a bell tower, and that’s where we canfind the ancient temple of Prali. It was built in 1556 and it’s the only temple that – after many and many wars – still exists.
In 1686, during persecutions, the Valley was put on fire by the French troops led by General Catinat. The temple risked to be destroyed, but it was saved to be used for Catholic worship by the new settlers who came to live in the Valley. Three thousand Waldensians, in fact, in those years, were forced into exile and hosted in Switzerland and Germany.
In 1689, since the political situation allowed it, a little group of Waldensians came back, led by Pastor Henri Arnaud, in the Valleys. This accomplishment is known as “The Glorious Return”. On September,7th of that year Waldenses (who had meanwhile reached Prali together with Arnaud) took back the temple, and the pastor gave a sermon that remained in history.
The building was modified and restored several times in the following years. In 1889 during the second centenary of the Glorious Return people participated enthusiastically in repainting it and put a memorial plaque on the facade to commemorate the return of Arnaud and Waldensian in their own lands.
As time passed by the temple got too small to accommodate the whole faithful community of Prali that had meanwhile multiplied by the presence of more and more tourists and participants in the construction of the ecumenical center of Agape. In 1962 the newer and bigger temple was inaugurated, and inside it the old benches of 1700 that were in the old one were brought. The new building is built in local stone and wood to blend in with the surrounding mountain scenery.
…and what about the old temple? Do not worry, it’s still in very good condition, and it hosts the Museum of Prali and Germanasca Valley. If you pass round here pop in to see it!
How to get here
Arriving from Pinerolo, take the SS 23 to Sestriere. Before Villar Perosa before turn on the Provincial Road 166 and then go straight along the Provincial Road 169, then continue on Frazione Villa and Via Malzat up to Prali.
Do you want to read the tale in Italian ?