Today we are in a place full of history… We are at Sibaud of Bobbio Pellice.
You have to know that in 1686 and 1687, after harsh persecutions, oppressions and brutalities, survived Waldensians from the valleys were forced to face a hard choice: to abiure, deny their faith and convert to Catholicism or to emigrate out of Piedmont.
That was not an easy decision to take: Waldensians did not want to leave their mountains, but the situation forced them into exile.
They had to say goodbye to their homes and plots cultivated with big efforts and move to unknown countries, where other Protestants were ready to accept them.
After a few years sadly spent far away from their homeland, Waldensians decided to take their chance and go back home, somehow or other.
The European situation was good to them: England and the Netherlands joined forces against France (which at the time was an ally of Savoy) and supported Waldensians’ challenge.
On the night of August 27th, 1689, about a thousand men crossed the lake Leman from the Swiss to the French side and in about ten days they walked the 200km from the lake to their valleys.
The march through the mountains was hard and adventurous.
One of the biggest risks was that people would spread around in trying to go back to where their homes used to be as soon as they would cross the last mountain range and enter their valley.
If this had happened, no one would have survived, because all of the valleys were patrolled by Savoy troops.
Right here in this flatland the Waldensians’ commander, the minister Henri Arnaud, pushed them into hanging together: the memorial, which was built in 1889, recalls the covenant of mutual loyalty agreed between officers and soldiers involved in the action, known as the “Glorious Return”.
After the Sibaud covenant, Waldensians and French-Savoy troops kept on fighting for many months, till when one day, unexpectedly, Duke Vittorio Amedeo II broke the alliance with France and sided with the Netherlands and England.
This meant that Walensians would no longer be persecuted.
The ones that still were imprisoned in Savoy jails were freed up and they could join the Waldensians who survived (almost 300) in the “Glorious Return”.
Supported by foreign authorities, finally in 1694 Waldensians obtained by the Duke a tolerance edict that would allow their presence in their valleys.
How to get here:
along the provincial road 161, go to the town of Bobbio Pellice (Turin). After 300 m turn right in the direction Borgata Costa and Borgata Pidone and follow the signs for “Sibaud”. In 1.5 km you will be at the hamlet Podio, leave your car and walk for 10 minutes to reach the monument.