Today, I’m taking you in the municipality of Luserna San Giovanni, at just a few steps from the border with Angrogna, in order to tell you the history of the Waldensian temple that stands here and gives name to the whole township, the Chabas (or Ciabàs)!
It’s a peculiar name, isn’t it?! It dates back to the early days – maybe around the years 1555/56 – of the construction of this very simple building with no bell tower, no altar nor images inside it, but that only used to give shelter to people gathered in order to listen to worship… Actually, for people coming from outside the town it looked like just a big bart (which in Piedmontese is called “ciabot” and, from there, “Ciabas”)!
This unlucky temple was destroyed many times (think that even in the period of Piedmontese Easters it was burned twice!) but around it life was intense: for many years it had been the only temple of the Community of San Giovanni, and in the days of worship there used to take place also the open-air market, since the reputation of the shepherds who officiated the cult here would attract many people from a distance…
In 1686 the Waldensians decided, at a meeting that was held right here, if choosing to fight against Savoy to defend their freedom, or going into exile beyond borders… one month later the temple was set on fire again by the troops of the Duke of Savoy.
In 1806 it was then built the temple of Bellonatti and (since there was a law imposing that the number of temples in the Valleys could not increase) the Chabas was abandoned, its interior looted and used as storage.
How to get here:
leave the provincial road 161, that connects Pinerolo to the Pellice Valley, at the roundabout in Pralafera, and turn right in Masel Road; cross the intersection and continue straight onto the Provincial Road 163. After less than a mile you will find yourself surrounded by meadows and on your left you can see the great pyre for the bonfire of Stallè (but only during in the period of February!)… continue for 300 m and turn left at the next crossroad -to Angrogna- and soon in the fields immediately below the street, you will see the church of Chabas, marked by a yellow panel.