Don’t you want to know where we are today?
We are back in Rorà, because we are going to talk about the Waldensian temple.
You ought to know that all of Waldensian religious buildings hide some kind of tale, and today I’d like to tell you one that belongs to here.
The temple you see behind me was built in 1846, but there are many places round here where there used to be even more ancient buildings; unfortunately, no traces remained of most of them.
This happened because throughout the age of religious persecutions, the little hamlet of Rorà was destroyed and rebuilt several times.
At the beginning of 18th century Waldensians decided that they should build a little temple in the hamlet center, in order to host the families (almost 80) from all over the valley.
A few years later King Carlo Emanuele III ordered the construction of a Catholic church that was built, as well, in the center of the village and not far from the Waldensian temple… but this caused not few problems.
The priest of the church complained about the fact that Waldensians used to sing too loud during Sunday Cult, and this would disturb the Catholic Mass.
Waldenses tried to solve the problem by celebrating the Cult very early in the morning, but it was not a comfortable solution to the ones that lived outside the village (and many also in the mountains).
Moreover, the priest kept on claiming that the Cult was too long and that he still was forced to stop the Mass every Sunday because of the noise.
In the end people from Rorà, who were very upset, decided to build a new temple as far as possible, but they had no money to finance the works, since they all were farmers or shepherds.
At that time, however, English Protestants who came to visit the valleys were helping Waldensians; among them there was the famous John Charles Beckwith.
Beckwith realized that the solution would be building the Waldensian temple of Rorà near the pastor’s house, which was on the other side of the village than the Catholic church. He then decided to give his help and moved back to England in order to find money enought to start the works.
It is told that, as he was explaining the project to his friends, he was approached by a six-year-old girl who wanted to help him.
The girl had only a penny; Beckwith accepted her offer and told her: “Your penny will be essential, because it comes from the heart, and it will be in the building’s foundations”.
Beckwith kept his promise, and the girl’s penny was sealed into a wall when the first stone was laid… the coin is still there!!!
The construction works were completed at the end of 1845, and the inauguration of the new Temple took place January 6th, 1846.
At that time, however, there was a law that established the number of temples that could be built in Waldensian Valleys, and in Rorà there could be no more than one, so the old temple became a storage for bundles and charcoal.
How to get here:
move from Luserna San Giovanni and get the Provincial Road number 162 towards Rorà. Follow the signs that will take you to the town. Park your car in front of the town hall and take a walk to Gianavello Street. Right in front of you there’s a staircase that will take you in a very short time to the Waldensian Temple.