Chapter 6: An Account of the Persecutions in Italy, Under the Papacy (1/35)

We shall now enter on an account of the persecutions in Italy, a countrywhich has been, and still is,
# 1. The center of popery.
# 2. The seat of the pontiff.
# 3. The source of the various errors which have spread themselves over other countries, deluded the minds of thousands, and diffused the clouds of superstition and bigotry over the human understanding.

In pursuing our narrative we shall include the most remarkable persecutions which have happened, and the cruelties which have been practised,
# 1. By the immediate power of the pope.
# 2. Through the power of the Inquisition.
# 3. By the bigotry of the Italian princes.

In the twelfth century, the first persecutions under the papacy began in Italy, at the time that Adrian, an Englishman, was pope, being occasioned by the following circumstances:

A learned man, and an excellent orator of Brescia, named Arnold, came to Rome, and boldly preached against the corruptions and innovations which had crept into the Church. His discourses were so clear, consistent, and breathed forth such a pure spirit of piety, that the senators and many of the people highly approved of, and admired his doctrines.

This so greatly enraged Adrian that he commanded Arnold instantly to leave the city, as a heretic. Arnold, however, did not comply, for the senators and some of the principal people took his part, and resisted the authority of the pope.

Adrian now laid the city of Rome under an interdict, which caused the whole body of clergy to interpose; and, at length he persuaded the senators and people to give up the point, and suffer Arnold to be banished. This being agreed to, he received the sentence of exile, and retired to Germany, where he continued to preach against the pope, and to expose the gross errors of the Church of Rome.

Adrian, on this account, thirsted for his blood, and made several attempts to get him into his hands; but Arnold, for a long time, avoided every snare laid for him. At length, Frederic Barbarossa arriving at the imperial dignity, requested that the pope would crown him with his own hand. This Adrian complied with, and at the same time asked a favor of the emperor, which was, to put Arnold into his hands. The emperor very readily delivered up the unfortunate preacher, who soon fell a martyr to Adrian’s vengeance, being hanged, and his body burnt to ashes, at Apulia. The same fate attended several of his old friends and companions.

Encenas, a Spaniard, was sent to Rome, to be brought up in the Roman Catholic faith; but having conversed with some of the reformed, and having read several treatises which they put into his hands, he became a Protestant. This, at length, being known, one of his own relations informed against him, when he was burnt by order of the pope, and a conclave of cardinals. The brother of Encenas had been taken up much about the same time, for having a New Testament in the Spanish language in his possession; but before the time appointed for his execution, he found means to escape out of prison, and retired to Germany.

Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs, Chapter 6

Leave a Reply

Search the ESV Bible


(e.g., John 1 or God's love)