Today I am in Podio (in dialect “Puy”), a suburb of Bobbio Pellice, since I want to tell you about a great little piece of history.
In 1560 Waldensian communities of southern Italy and southern France had been destroyed because of their faith, and the only Waldenses who had remained alive were those of Piedmont.
At the time Piedmont was ruled by Savoy Duke Emanuele Filiberto, who used to think that heretics were a problem that he should in some way solve…
In Pellice Valley, initially, he did not act in a brutal manner, but he tried to find a mediation: it was the moment of the arrival of Catholic missionaries (to convert people) and of theological debates (pastors and priests would discuss in public on matters of faith trying to prove themselves right).
During the winter of 1560 many soldiers settled in the Valley and started building castles and forts. Waldenses did not want to resort to arms, but many frightened people began to think of resisting the enemy… even some pastors got convinced about that!
At that time Pragelato and Chisone Valleys were ruled by a French king (in favor of the Reformation) who decided therefore to help the Waldensian brotherhood from Pellice Valley: on January 21st, 1561, right here at Podio a popular assembly took place, and during that meeting the Pact of Union was approved.
All of the shepherds and family heads from the valleys met in the evening, spent the whole night and the following morning with the people who did not want to go to Mass, and then they had to decide whether to flee (but it was not possible because it was a very cold winter) or defend. They decided to resist and swore they would remain united, raising all of their hands to the sky…
For the first time in Europe peasants, led by their pastors, opposed to the sovereign, not as a popular uprising, but to defend the right to reform their church.
How to get here:
along the provincial road 161, reach the town of Bobbio Pellice (Turin). After 300 m turn right towards Borgata Costa and Borgata Pidone and follow the signs for “Sibaud”. In 1.5 km you will be at the hamlet Podio.