Peter Paul Vergerio. 1498-1563.
Birthplace — family — secretary to Clement VII. — sent Nuncio to Ferdinand — to the elector of Saxony — his interview with luther — made bishop of Capo d'Istria — goes to France — letter to the Marchioness of Pescara — queen of Navarre — her piety — letter to Alemanni — to Bembo — to Camilla Valenti —to Vida — Vergerio at Worms — letter to the queen of Navarre — Vergerio goes to Rome — letters — goes to his diocese — combats superstition — accused of Lutheranism by the friars — remoVes a large pasteboard image of st. George on horseback from the church — summoned before the Nuncio — Cardinal of Mantua his friend — inquisitorial perquisition — francesco spira — embraces the gospel — retracts publicly through fear — dies raving mad — consternation of Vergerio — leaves Italy for Vicosoprano — Consecrates the church at Poschiavo — corresponds with the Zurich reformers — Mainardi — Camillo Renato — confession of faith — anabaptists —Vergerio visits Switzerland, Prussia, Tubingen — his death — writings — berni — his stanza.
[Source: M. Young, The Life and times of Paleario or A History of the Italian Reformers in the Sixteenth Century. Vol. II, Bell and Daldy (London, 1860), Chapter 7: "Petr Paul Vergerio", pg. 345-93.]
Vergerio, to whom we owe the preservation and republication of the articles against cardinal Morone, was a bishop and papal Nuncio. At the period of the reformation in Germany he had been employed in various legations, and his official communications with the Protestants drew his attention to the abuses of the Church both in doctrine and discipline. Like Luther, he at first discerned only the grossest superstitions and the most striking evils, and imagined that the reforms which Paul III. had projected would do all that was required. But as his mind became more enlightened, especially during a visit to Paris, where he was in close communication with the queen of Navarre, (1)  he began to understand something of the true nature of the Gospel, and to enjoy the promise of divine grace set forth in the Scriptures. (2) When however he honestly set about reforming his diocese, he found it impracticable. While discouraging superstition, and inculcating true religion and purity of life, he raised up a host of enemies who sounded the war-note of heresy and gathered round him the emissaries of the Inquisition. Their power was unquestionable, their victim under their command, and fear drove him out of Italy.
The flight of a bishop created even a greater sensation than the defection of the eloquent Ochino, (3) or of the learned Peter Martyr. (4) The court of Rome discovered too late the error of pushing to extremities a man so conversant with its secrets, so versed in controversy, and possessed of such ready eloquence both in speaking and writing. The conclave lamented having shewn to the world that it was impossible for a man who acted conscientiously, and taught his flock according to Scripture, to remain in the Roman Catholic Church.
Pietro Paolo Vergerio was born at Capo d'Istria (5) in the Venetian territory about the year 1498. An ancestor of the same name was one of the most gifted scholars of the Byzantine age, (6) and the friend and favourite of Petrarch; but our Vergerio's parents were of so little note that no record remains even of their names. (7) We only know that he had three brothers, Aurelio, Giacomo, and Giovan Battista, and that they all had their way to make in the world.
Vergerio, like his distinguished ancestor, studied law at Padua, and took his degree there. The reputation of the  university was at that time so great that there were no less than eight hundred students of different nations; English, French, Germans, Poles and Greeks. As foreigners they had special privileges, and their eagerness to support the honour of their various nations stimulated them to distinguish themselves. After Vergerio had completed his first course of study he was very desirous of going to Wittemberg, where the fame of Luther's learning and boldness was attracting many spirited youths. An opportunity presented itself which very nearly led to the accomplishment of his wishes. Frederic, Elector of Saxony, a pious but unenlightened prince, had a choice collection of relics, which he was continually increasing. His chaplain, Spalatinus, corresponded with Burchard, baron von Schenk, and commissioned him to send some relics to the Elector. Burchard in his reply highly commended Luther's works, but said they were interdicted by the Pope, and that the Patriarch of Venice had ordered a perquisition to be made at all the booksellers with an intention of seizing them, but care had been taken that none should be found. He himself, he said, was very anxious to read them, but dare not for fear of their being seized. While Burchard was looking for some trusty messenger to carry the relics, Vergerio and his brother Giacomo offered their services to take them to Wittemberg. The baron furnished them with letters of recommendation to Spalatinus, and mentioned Vergerio's desire to study at Wittemberg, assuring his friend that his talents would do credit to the university. But providence had other ends in view for Vergerio, and the Wittemberg scheme fell to the ground. The two youths did indeed set out, but illness obliged them to return, and meanwhile the Gospel made such rapid progress at Wittemberg that the relics lost their value, and the messengers their office. On the 18th of July 1522 Spalatinus sent back the relics and the cross to his friend Schenk, telling him to dispose of them in any way he thought best; for in Saxony the people were now so well instructed in divine things that they no longer had any regard for superstition. Faith in God, he said, and love to mankind were now considered more essential than relics. This letter offered no prospect for the two young men, so they remained in Italy and applied themselves to different professions.
Vergerio remained at Venice and in its neighbourhood till the year 1530, when his brother Aurelio, having been appointed secretary to Clement VII., Vergerio determined to go to Home to push his fortunes. His chief object being worldly advantage he resolved to enter the Church, convinced that in an ecclesiastical state this was the surest way to honour. (10) He was not unknown to cardinal Contarmi, at that time in high favour at Rome. This good cardinal, ever ready to forward the interests of his countrymen, presented him to the Pope with high eulogiums on his abilities.
It so happened that Clement was at that time looking out for a man of talent and agreeable manners, in whom he could thoroughly confide, to be sent as envoy to Germany. The young Vergerio made so agreeable an impression at first sight that he was immediately chosen secretary instead of his brother Aurelio. He was received into the palace, and admitted by the Pope to the closest personal intimacy.
In 1529 he was sent Nuncio to Ferdinand king of the Romans to dissuade him from holding a Council in Germany. He was desired to entice the king to comply with the Pope's wishes by allowing him to draw contributions from the clergy, and even to melt down the silver plate and ornaments of the churches for the expences of the war against the Turks.
Clement was so satisfied with Vergerio's talents for  negotiation, that in 1533 he directed him to replace Hugo Rangoni, bishop of Reggio, at the court of John Frederic, Elector of Saxony. (11) Rangoni had been instructed to propose a free and general Council. The Elector required time to reply, but soon after expressed his satisfaction at the prospect of a free and unconstrained assembly, in which the word of God would decide all controversies. He could decide nothing however, he said, without the consent of those princes and towns who followed the Confession of Augsburg; he would lay the subject before the Assembly of Sinalcald, which was to meet on the 24th of June, and then reply to the Nuncio. We have already seen that the German Protestants resolutely refused to submit to any Council held under the authority of the Pope, and this was the substance of their answer to the Nuncio. Their reply, with the Pope's proposal, was printed and sent to the Emperor and to Rome. Clement, annoyed that his plans should be so openly disclosed, recalled Rangoni and sent Vergerio in his place. His orders were to follow his predecessor's instructions, but on no account to listen to any modified proposals, even from the king himself. All engagements about a Council were to be carefully avoided, as well as every arrangement which could in any way militate against the paramount authority of the Holy See.
On the accession of Paul III. in 1534 Vergerio was summoned to Rome to give an account of his mission, and then sent back to Germany with a more defined commission. He was directed to visit the Protestant princes and cities, and endeavour to persuade them to sanction the meeting of a Council in Italy. The Protestant divines were not to be overlooked,(12) and they were if possible to be won by promises and favours. (13)
 In compliance with these instructions Vergerio went to Wittemberg to see Luther, and to put in practice those arts of flattery and delusion with which the court of Rome is wont to ensnare its victims. The Nuncio assured Luther that the Pope and the sacred College held him in the highest esteem, and felt much grieved to lose a man who might have been so eminently useful, had he been disposed to devote his talents to the service of God, a service inseparable from the Church of Rome. His Holiness and all the Cardinals highly blamed the harshness of Cajetan, and the step taken by Pope Leo (14) had been distasteful to the whole Roman court. If Luther would return to the obedience of the Papal See he would receive the highest honours and favours. Vergerio, with engaging modesty, declined entering into controversy with Luther, but was desirous of pointing out to him how advantageous his submission to the head of the Church would be. A man, said he, must have a great deal of self-love and immeasurably idolize his own ideas, to trouble the world with his individual opinions. If it were a matter of conscience with him to change the religion in which he was born, and which he had professed for thirty years, love to his neighbour would have led him to conceal his sentiments, instead of disturbing the world by denouncing the religion of his forefathers. The Pope was now resolved to apply a remedy and convoke a Council at Mantua, where all the learned men in Europe might assemble to declare the truth, and shame those unquiet spirits who disturb the public peace. "Though our chief confidence should be placed on the divine goodness, yet God makes use of second causes, and it depends on you, Luther, whether the remedy proposed be efficacious or not. If you come to the Council and comport yourself with gentleness and charity, there is little doubt of 8uccess." Vergerio then cited the example of Enea Silvio, (15) who with all his labour and industry could never obtain more than a canonry at Trent as long as he followed his own opinions; but as soon as he laid them aside he became bishop, cardinal, and finally Pope. He reminded Luther also of Bessarione (16), who from being a monk at Trebizond was raised to the honour of the purple. (17)
 Those who know the character of Luther, (18) who was at this time "vigorous both in mind and body, fresh from the schools, and fervent in the Scriptures," will readily imagine that Vergerio's shallow reasoning and worldly promises would have no effect on the rough but spiritual mind of the reformer. What attraction could the most splendid earthly good have for the man who despised 'filthy lucre,' and who was accustomed to commune on divine subjects, and to breathe a holy atmosphere of thought unknown to the courtly Nuncio. He was a stranger to the ennobling nature of God's eternal truth, and plied Luther with such arguments as would have had weight with himself.
No wonder that Luther, while still in the body and subject to human infirmity, was filled with indignation at the idea of bartering his highest heavenly hopes for an idle name or a purple robe. Paolo Sarpi says his answer was like himself, harsh and vehement He told Vergerio he was quite indifferent as to what the court of Rome thought of him; that though he was but an unprofitable servant, his great desire was to occupy himself in the service of God; he could see no connection between this service and the Church of Rome, unless indeed darkness could be joined to light No circumstance of his life had been of such real advantage to him as the harshness of cardinal Cajetan, and the severity of Leo X., and he received it as the wholesome teaching of divine providence. At that time he was not thoroughly instructed in the doctrines of faith; he had only discovered the evil of Indulgences, and would willingly have been silent had his adversaries been so likewise. But the severity of the court of Rome had obliged him to study the Scriptures, and had led him to discover other errors and corruptions in the Roman Catholic religion, errors which he could not conscientiously dissimulate or conceal. The Nuncio had honestly confessed he did not understand theology, that great science in which all religious opinions were concentrated. If he had not himself admitted his ignorance the tenour of his arguments made it  evident. Luther denied that the doctrines which he preached could be called new, except by those who believed that Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and the Fathers had lived as the Popes do. As to disturbing the world, those who read the Scriptures know that it is an essential property of the Gospel to rouse people from their lethargy. It separates even the children from the fathers, it gives life to those who receive it, and brings condemnation when rejected. The great defect of the Church of Rome was its worldly policy, its desire for temporal power and earthly dominion. This is the wisdom which passes for folly (19) in the sight of God; while the court of Rome, on the other hand, despises all who trust to the promises of God and put the concerns of their Church into His hands. It was not, said Luther, in his power to make the Council minister to the advantage of the Church, for that would depend entirely on those who were masters of its liberty. If the assembly would sincerely ask the aid of the Holy Spirit, and bring the disputed points to the test of Scripture without mixing up worldly artifices or interests, he would attend and act in a christian and temperate manner: not with the idea of conciliating the Pope or any earthly power, but for the service of Jesus Christ, and the peace of the Church. He knew however that no dependence was to be placed on an assembly of men who were learned but not religious, for it was just those very men, the sages of the world, who readily embraced the most absurd errors. He would not receive anything from Rome which was unsuitable to a minister of the Gospel. As to the examples of advancement which Vergerio cited, they made no impression on him, for he despised vain imaginations and false grandeur. If he were really ambitious he could already boast, as Erasmus wittily observed, "that a poor man like Luther was capable of enriching others," for Fisher bishop of Rochester had been made cardinal, and Schomberg archbishop of Capua, solely on his account. In conclusion he told the Nuncio that he as fully believed in the truth of the doctrines he held as if he had seen what was declared in the Scriptures with his bodily eyes; and that he felt persuaded that the Pope, the Nuncio, and the whole Roman court would sooner embrace his opinions than he theirs.
This resolute speech quenched all hope which Vergerio  might have entertained of shaking the firmness of the reformer; he tried other ministers of the Gospel at Wittemberg and elsewhere, but met with the same reply from all whose opinions were of any value. If some yielded to his persuasions, they were men of such inferior qualities that they carried no weight. (20)
This is Sarpi's account of the interview between the Nuncio and Luther: but Pallavicini denies that the Pope commissioned Vergerio to see Luther; and states that the Nuncio, being obliged to pass through Wittemberg, was received with great honour by the governor, who waited on him at table during supper. Next morning at breakfast he went to offer him the same attention, accompanied by two divines, Martin Luther and John Bugenhagius. (21) The Nuncio was told that the court and the members of the university being absent on account of the plague, these were the only persons at Wittemberg fit to bear him company, and converse with him in Latin. The Nuncio could do no less than listen to their conversation. He found that Luther spoke very barbarous Latin, and set him down for a proud, malicious, rash kind of person, with very coarse manners. Among other things Luther said, "Have you heard a report in Italy that I have the character of being a great German drunkard?" This and other speeches the Nuncio reported in a letter to Cardinal Pole's secretary, and described Luther's manners and dress. This is Pallavicini's account. (22) The truth probably lies between the two narratives; the meeting might have been contrived by others, and yet the substance of the conversation narrated by Sarpi be correct. Be this as it may, Vergerio returned to Rome and assured the Pope that the Protestants would never sanction any council that was not perfectly free, and held in some convenient place within the limits of the empire. Nothing was to be expected from Luther or his associates, and force of arms would alone reduce the strength of the Protestant party.
The Pope then sent Vergerio to Naples to see the Emperor, who had just returned from his successful expedition in Africa. (23)  After hearing Vergerio's report, the Emperor signified that on his progress to Germany he should pass through Rome, and would confer with the Pope. They had long secret consultations together on the affairs of Germany and Italy. The Roman Pontiff's counsels were all in favour of war; but the Emperor was already engaged in a war with France about Milan, and thought an attack upon the Protestants unseasonable. Paul III. suggested a league with the Venetians to keep the French in check. Charles, who knew that the Pope secretly coveted the duchy of Milan for his grandson, professed himself not indisposed to a war in Germany, but before he resorted to violence he wished to see what could be done by a council. The Pope acquiesced, indulging the hope of being able to overawe the council by the presence of troops.
In the year 1536 Vergerio was rewarded for his services by the gift of the bishopric of his native place, Capo d'Istria. There was some difficulty in his collation to the benefice, as Ferdinand, king of the Romans, claimed the right of patronage. On the 24th of June Vergerio wrote to Aretino (24):
To the Lady Marchioness of Pescara.
"Most Excellent Lady,
"I have written twice to your Excellency about my journey from Rome to this place, and have given you an account of the most remarkable things which I have seen, as well as of my thoughts and studies. I will now continue my recital; but first, may the peace of God, sweeter far than anything in this world, be with you, keep, and fill your heart and mind. We arrived at Fontainebleau, where the court now is, on the 11th of this month, safe and well, the cardinal and all of us. The most christian king (26) received him (the cardinal) with great affection, and shews him most surprising favour. When I first arrived the court appeared to me very grand; but I think in a few days it will appear even more attractive, as I shall gradually become acquainted with the princes and great persons, — and I hope to be intimate with some of them, especially with those who have some light and knowledge of the ways of God. I earnestly desire that the Divine Majesty may grant me grace both to enter on, and follow the path in which your Excellency has been so long walking that you have already advanced a good way. I have not yet paid my respects to the most serene queen of Navarre, nor delivered to her the message of your Excellency, because, knowing her to be a person of very solid judgment, and conscious of my own incapacity and ignorance, I would not rush hastily into her presence. I saw and observed her attentively for more than an hour, while her majesty was speaking to my cardinal, and I beheld in the expression of her countenance, and in all her movements, an harmonious union of majesty, modesty, and benevolence. Besides this, as your Excellency has already heard, I discerned that fervour of spirit and that clear light which God has imparted to her. Thus she can walk in the blessed foretaste of eternal life, without stumbling at those impediments which offer themselves to us in this mortal state. I shall endeavour to be admitted soon to kiss her hand, and to be edified by approaching nearer to contemplate her most excellent virtues. If she deigns to allow me sometimes to listen to her, I shall the less regret having left the school of your Excellency, and that of the most reverend cardinals, Contarmi, Pole, Bembo, and Fregoso, (27) who were all so united together. My studies are those of a traveller, that is without order; and the little I do read is in those authors who speak of our Master Christ, whose holy words and actions best nourish our souls. I have composed four discourses upon German affairs, but I do not send them at present to your Excellency for want of a safe opportunity. I am afraid to send them by uncertain channels; having expressed myself as a true christian, that is, I have spoken freely to the honour of God. This does not please the world, which differs so widely and acts so contrary to his ways. I earnestly beseech your Excellency to pray to God for me, who am cold and well-nigh frozen, but sincerely desirous of being some day warm in his service. Christ sees the heart and its desires: may he inflame me with a spark of his love. This do I entreat of him by all that he has done for our souls; but not having as yet received grace, I entreat your Excellency to pray that I may be heard. (28)
"The Bishop Vergerio."
 A second letter, written from France to the Marchioness of Pescara, is even more interesting than the first, as it gives a detailed account of his conversations with the queen of Navarre. It makes us deeply regret that we have not access to the written minutes of these conversations on the state of the Church, which lasted four hours. A recital of the manner in which this pious and accomplished queen treated spiritual doctrines would be inestimably precious. Vergerio's letter confirms the account given by various historians of the piety and religious zeal of this distinguished princess. The most convincing proof of her having cordially embraced the glad tidings of the Gospel in all their fulness and freeness, is her poem, Miroir de l'Ame pecheresse, headed by a verse of the 51st Psalm, Seigneur Dieu, crée en moy cceur net. (29) This poem was condemned by the Sorbonne because it set forth Christ as the only means of salvation and justification, and made no mention of saints and monks. The king however, at the entreaty of his sister, obliged the divines to revoke their censure.
Amid the ignorance and intolerance of priests and monks, it is refreshing to meet with a noble and virtuous princess coming forward to advocate the spiritual truths of the Gospel in such humble and devotional strains.
To the Lady Marchioness of Pescara.
"May the grace, mercy, and peace of God the Father and Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, in truth and love be with you.
"Your Excellency knows this was the way St. John saluted that lady whom he called elect. Not without mystery, with great fervour did she come to the knowledge of the Gospel. In this same way do I salute you, who are one of those bright elect lights who set forth these same truths, which are almost hidden in the darkness of this our age. As my chief object in conferring with you by letter is to be stimulated in the service of our Lord God, I see no reason to avoid beginning with so long a salutation. I have taken it from a source where nothing is to be found which is not good, and suitable for every place and season. God does not observe whether we attend to worldly customs or to the rules and ornaments of earthly knowledge, but whether we nourish ourselves with his word, and say and do all to the glory of his Divine Majesty.
"I am now to give you an account of the great joy and consolation I have received these few days past from the most serene queen of Navarre. I have passed four long hours at two different times  conversing with her about the present state of the Church of God, about the study of divine things, and on some of the most delightful points of spiritual doctrine, the same subjects which your Excellency desires we should be always thinking of and conversing about. These conversations are like rich treasures, worthy of being preserved and communicated. They are also of such a nature, that imparting them to others enhances their value. As soon as I had left her majesty I made notes of our subjects of conversation, and if I have time to-day to revise and transcribe them I will send them with this despatch, to shew your Excellency how high the intellect of this queen soars, and how rightly she speaks and feels of the grace of God and of the power of his word. Having noted the sum and substance of her opinions, I ought also to describe the fervour, eloquence, and marvellous grace with which her majesty expressed herself. I do not think, my Lady Marchioness, it would have been possible to speak better. Here you will say, how could you understand her. as she generally speaks French, which I know you do not comprehend? Her majesty spoke in French: I do not understand others who speak in that language, nevertheless I think I understood her, and lost very few words. I will tell you why; she knows our Italian tongue though she does not speak it; she also knows Latin very tolerably, and pronounces it extremely well. Her majesty, compassionating my slight knowledge of the language, and wishing to be understood, when she made use of a French word which she thought I should find difficult, immediately explained it by an Italian or Latin word. She pronounces also so distinctly and clearly that she soon made me comprehend the sense of her words; and besides this she was speaking on subjects which I have frequently heard discussed. I think I comprehended and have rightly noted these conversations, and your Excellency will see and read them with astonishment, pleasure, and edification. Blessed be our Lord Jesus Christ, who in these our turbulent times has raised up in various cities and provinces spirits of this kind. I daily meditate on this with wonder and consolation. In this kingdom there is the mo6t serene queen of whom I am speaking; in Ferrara the lady Renée of France; (30) in Urbino the lady Leonora Gonzaga; and many others who are filled with the love of Christ. In Rome there is the lady Vittoria Colonna. This is speaking of your sex only. For my own part I feel convinced that this is the manner in which the holy vineyard, the Church of the Lord, in which there are so many thorns and obscurities, will be purified and enlightened. If God in his goodness goes on raising up such fervent spirits in both sexes, in various cities and provinces, we may awake from the long sleep which has closed our eyes and weighed down our faculties, and be enlightened with a true knowledge of the way to serve God much more than by all the ink in the world, (even though we wrote new reformations every day, (31) more than by all the Diets which ever assembled. Emittet Verbum suum, He will send forth his word, to speak of God, and to soften that which was hardened, namely our hearts and minds, which were shut up in the solid ice of error and worldly thoughts. When the Spirit of God breathes on us the ice will  thaw, and carried by the vessels of his grace we shall pass over the waves of error to eternal truth ! Who can restrain or retard our course, and the impetus of the Spirit of God? I commend myself to your Excellency. (32)
To M. Luigi Alemanni.
"Most Magnificent Brother,
"I returned this evening to Melun so full of this spiritual joy and consolation, that not being able to keep it all within my own breast, I feel myself obliged to pour a share of it into yours, one whom I so much love, and who truly respects and venerates her majesty. May God long preserve you in health." (37)
"I am going in about eight days to see the king of the Romans; leave the rest to me. I have not hitherto been able to go though I wished it. I have been thinking that it will be in the power of the marchioness of Pescara to free me from the pension, for the queen of Navarre and my cardinal (d'Este) have written to monsignor of Rhodes, all owing to the marchioness; if she is in earnest about it all will be well... Your friend M. Carlo (39) of Fano has taken the trouble to collect the poems of the marchioness; I saw in the hands of the queen here what he wrote about them. He will have me, such as I am, for his advocate. I salute you and all your house.
"P. Paolo Vergerio."
From the correspondence already given we perceive that Vergerio was progressing in divine knowledge, and becoming increasingly desirous of serving God in spirit and in truth. In proportion as he advanced himself he became more desirous to encourage others to walk in the right way. He wrote a letter of advice to a young lady at Mantua, called Camilla di Valenti.
In her reply she addresses him with much respect as a father, thanks him for his advice, and expresses a great wish to follow it, and to be led by his example to walk in the paths of virtue. His advice seems to have been that she should learn Latin in order to be able to read the scriptures. Translations in Italian were rare and difficult to be had. Camilla had so far complied with Vergerio's counsel as to be able to write a Latin letter, which she sends him, and says she had written it with the view of studying the Holy Scriptures. As she mentions her mother and brothers she was probably unmarried.
Vergerio replied as follows:
To the Lady Camilla Valenti.
"I have received two most beautiful letters from you, one in Latin, the other in Italian; which, to say the truth, I have been shewing about at the French court for several days past, greatly to your credit, and to the admiration of your fine understanding. The most serene queen of Navarre, a queen full of spirit, charity, and eloquence, and my great hope and consolation, praised you much; she is a person well able to value your erudition. Continue, my daughter, in this delightful path, and let your mind be excited to exertion by these beginnings of celebrity and glory which already gild your name. I must tell you that in our age there is no woman more learned than you are in classical literature, or more eloquent in writing Latin. I entreat you  earnestly to devote your attention to it, and make it your study to understand the Holy Scriptures, in which you will find true and sweet nourishment for your soul, and a more perfect and solid glory. Having written to you formerly on this subject, you tell me in these two last letters that you intend to do so, but that the greatness and importance of these studies alarm you. My daughter, I commend your modesty, and agree that it becomes us to enter with much humility and purity of mind into this venerated sanctuary. And now I beg you to listen to what I have to say. I intend soon to return to Italy, where those souls are which God has committed to my care. I am sated to the full with peregrinations and courts. From thence I can go every year for a month or two to stay with our most illustrious cardinal of Mantua, my esteemed lord; and thus I can by word of mouth incite you to this most excellent undertaking, point out to you an expeditious and compendious method, and shew you the light which leads us out of the darkness which first presents itself to our eyes; but soon we come to the hills, and then by degrees to the high places of these holy studies. In short, I shall come and talk to you. Meanwhile I should like to have two more of your precious letters. Send them to Ferrara, addressed S. Jacomo Alvarato, the counsellor of his Excellency the duke, who will convey them to me. I have not written sooner because I have been, and still am, much occupied in journies and with affairs. Excuse me. I commend myself to you with as much love as I bear you, which is indeed great. (40]
"The Bishop Vergerio."
 Vergerio, without knowing it, was a Protestant at heart, since he protested against the errors of the Roman Catholic Church, and sought a remedy in the scriptures. But he dreamed, as many short-sighted men have done, that the Church would reform itself, and when purified draw all men under its influence. Three hundred years have passed away and no nearer approach has been made to reform. Instead of progressing it has degenerated. In the sixteenth century the world was nearer to a right judgment of the papacy than it is now. Reforms in discipline and doctrine were then thought essential; now its grossest errors are spoken of with conventional respect. The temporal throne of the Pope is indeed shaken, but it is proposed to strengthen and enlarge his spiritual dominion.
To M. Ottonella Vida.
"The Bishop Vergerio."
At the close of the year 1540 we find Vergerio at the Diet of Worms, not in any professional capacity from the Pope, but rather as the envoy of France, though he was in fact employed by Paul III. to report the state of parties.
About this time Vergerio wrote an address (45) on the peace and unity of the Church, in which he argued that a national Council was not the best means of attaining the desired end. (3) Copies of this address were circulated with the view of disturbing the Diet because it bore some resemblance to a national synod.  Campeggio in public, and Vergerio (46) in private, contrived to lengthen out the debate and to delay the conference. We have already seen (47) the lamentable issue of this Diet, and how unavailing were the efforts and good intentions of eminent men on both sides in presence of the repressive authority of the Pope.
While at Worms he wrote the following letter to the queen of Navarre.
To the Queen of Navarre.
"Your Majesty may have heard from my lord the Chancellor some few things which I now write to you about this colloquy, that is, that they have not yet decided on the form in which it is to be held, though they have been considering about it these three months past. Madam, I am quite vexed when I see that the cause of Jesus Christ is treated with so much indignity, for it appears to me that this is not the chief thing on account of which so many people are met together, and so much trouble taken, but only a pretence. The chief objects thought of, under the name of Christ, are the private interests of some particular persons; and so great is the goodness and patience of our Lord God that he bears with us, but it is to be feared that at last he will arise in his wrath and chastise us. I have also another subject of sorrow in my heart, which is, that conversing with many of these theologians I find very few who are spiritual and put their trust in Christ. They reason about these things, and on those points which relate to our justification, to the grace of God, and to the sacraments, as if they were profane matters, or a litigious lawsuit. Your Majesty knows well that the doctrines and mysteries of God cannot be learned or taught, nor ought they to be treated of with rancour or the spirit of contention, nor with learned words of man's wisdom, but very differently. In short, Madam, on this very account I fear that nothing good will be done, because they try to measure divine things by a human standard. I devote myself partly to understand thoroughly the progress of affairs, and partly to my studies. I pray earnestly every day for your Majesty, were I but worthy to be heard. I humbly recommend myself to you and to that worthy man, full of sincerity and charity, the cardinal de Tournon. (48)
"The Bishop Vergerio."
Peter Paul Vergerio to Cardinal Contarini.
"The infinite wisdom of God created man in his own image and likeness, with so much wisdom and system that some sages, at a loss for a better or more praiseworthy name, have called man a little world. Certainly, whoever considers well the order of the earth, and of this machine which is called world, and how one element waits upon another, and things are adapted to each other, and then reflects upon the composition of man, he beholds before him the form and image of the whole world gathered together in the human frame. Not touching for the present on the divine nature of our souls, or the greatness of our intelligence and its intellectual capacities, it is wonderful to consider how every part of our body is duly organized, and that every member has its proper office. Each member and every part serves the head; they all need each other; one arm needs the other arm, the hand also the hand. The arms and the legs need the feet, and so on with all the members of the body, both exterior and interior, they are all necessary to each other. St. Paul says, "The eye cannot say unto the  hand I have no need of thee, nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you;" (50) that there be no schism between the united members of the body, when one member suffers all the other members suffer, and life itself is attacked. This is why the divine Paul, wishing to liken the Church of Christ to the most worthy and noble thing on earth, often uses this similitude thus: 'As in one body we have many members, and all the members have not the same office, we being many, form the body of the Church, of which Christ is the head, and we are all members of Christ, and also members one of another; and each member of this body is under the government of his head, and has his different office, more or less honourable according to the grace given us by the proportion of faith.' Thus we see that some in the Church are to teach the word of God, some to live in simplicity and fervour of spirit, others full of benevolence to assist their neighbours in distress. Some have one gift, some another. All these are distinct members of the great body of the Church, and, as before said, one arm helps the other and one hand assists the other to sustain the head; thus ought the mystical members to help one another if they truly desire to love and honour our Head Christ, and preserve the Church. As one hand, when it finds the other weak and infirm, if it does not assist it, injures the head, and puts the whole body in danger of pain and inconvenience, so it is with the Church; if one sees another in difficulty and does not assist, but rather injures him, he offends all other christians and our Head, which is Christ. 'Know you not,' says St. Paul in another place, 'that we are the members of Christ, and you are the body of Christ?' and again, 'We are the members of his body and of his flesh.' If we love Christ why do we not love and help his members and his body? St. John, who as well as St. Paul understood the deep things of God, tells us if we love God we shall love our neighbour also; for if we do not love our brother and our neighbour whom we see, much less can we love God whom we cannot see. (51)
"In short, my lord, there is but small charity in some men of this world, but there is a vast deal of hypocrisy, which I pray God he may discover and confound, as he manifestly has this vice in abomination. I think your reverence, who is my greatest friend and knows all my thoughts, will understand of whom I speak, although I speak as in a riddle or parable. May God give me so much patience that I may be silent, and that my grief may not lead me to use stronger and plainer words than I have done. (52)
"P. Paolo Vergerio."
Vergerio arrived at Rome from Worms on the 25th of January 1541, and a few weeks after he wrote the following letter to Galeazzo Florimonte, bishop of Sessa.
" Did I not promise you by letter to go in Lent, which is very near, to my diocese, to preach and do the little I can for the benefit of the flock which God has given me to feed? Behold I hasten to do it, and expect you there; when the pilgrims my children go to Loreto (55) you will hear from them, and thus you will be, as it were, my visitor, and see what I have done. Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that having been for a whole year in an atmosphere so chilling that it would almost have extinguished a great fire, (56) nevertheless it has not smothered the sparks which are still bright within. My dear M. Galeazzo, my trust is in Him, who will I hope grant me to fan into a flame not only my own soul, but some of those who are  under my care. Priuli, (57) a minister of God, is persevering in that fervour of spirit which you formerly wrote to me about. He is now hunting me afresh, and I am about to run. (58) May God reward you both for so much love. Keep well, and pray to God for me." (59)
Vergerio, however, was resolved to attempt removing some of the superstitious images from his church, and began by exposing the folly of worshipping St. Christopher and St. George on horseback; the latter was the patron and protector of Pirano, a place within his diocese. The friars took the alarm, and two strong parties formed themselves; the one against all change of these time-honoured follies; the other, supporters of the bishop. Bembo's son, the podestà, rather leaned to established usages. His father, the cardinal, wrote to him that if the bishop was partial in his dealings and favoured one party more than another, Matteo was not to regard his affection for the  man, but decide the causes brought before him with justice and impartiality. This was the first stone thrown against the bishop; the authorities being against him, complaints were made to the papal Nuncio, La Casa, at Venice; he was accused of heresy, and a censure was passed upon him. His friend Aretino wrote that in the end this would turn to good, as he was known to be a good christian and a faithful bishop, and entreated him to believe that these evil reports would finally bring him as much lustre, as the renewal of the swan's feathers increases her beauty. (61)
After the expressed disapprobation of the Nuncio, Vergerio found his position as a bishop untenable, and went to take counsel with his friend cardinal Hercules Gonzaga (62) at Mantua. Annibale Grisone, a canon, preached openly against the bishop, and knew so well how to work on the passions of the ignorant populace that he attributed the long drought and failure of crops to Vergerio's impiety in not respecting the ancient traditions. On the 13th of January 1546 he wrote from Mantua to Muzio his fellow-townsman, complaining of this persecution, but at the same time he received it as a mark of the divine favour, and said that he was proud to suffer for the name of Christ. (63)
But Muzio's tendencies unfortunately lay in another direction; he was a friend of Grisone, and already much prejudiced against Vergerio, whose letter contained some unguarded (64) expressions upon divine influence; this alarmed the stickler for free-will, and he returned for answer that he thought his opinions unsound and tinged with Lutheranism. Finding he could not count on Muzio as a friend, and fearing to write his own condemnation, Vergerio left his letter unanswered, and  retired to the town of Riva, on the borders of the lake of Garda, (65) belonging to his friend cardinal Madrucci, bishop of Trent.
Vergerio was very desirous of taking his place as bishop at the Council of Trent. Uncertain how he would be received he wished to have permission to appear before the Council and justify himself. He had been at Riva only a month when he wrote to Madrucci as follows:
"Your servant, the Bishop Vergerio." (66)
During his absence his enemies had not been idle. To the  bishop's great indignation the Nuncio sent the police (sbirri) to search his palace at Capo d'Istria for heretical books, (67) and the number of them found there formed one of the principal articles of accusation against him. Three were most especially obnoxious. One, called a diabolical book, Pasquino in Estasi, (68) a satire on the Pope and the Roman Catholic religion; Il Beneficio di Christo, and Il Summario della sacra scrittura. In vain he defended himself by quoting the canon which enjoins bishops to read heretical books in order to detect their errors, and that they may be confuted at Rome. The friars were the prime movers of this persecution against Vergerio; his reforms touched their gains as well as their manner of life. If neither St. George nor St. Christopher were to be worshipped, what would become of the profit derived from their images. The bishop had stripped them of their false glory, and dared to declare that these holy images were idols. (69) What need of farther proof of his heresy? In explanation he observed that the word etSaXov in Greek meant image, from elSco to see, and quoted Cicero, who says, imagines quoe idola sunt.
A friar named Bonaventura Gurone, guardian of the zoccolante (wooden shoes), was enraged against the bishop because he reproved him for having prepared some rails for an altar on which to hang votive offerings. They were to be offered in gratitude for the miraculous cures which the anticipated Virgin, not yet painted, was to perform. Gurone consulted with another priest, whom the bishop had admonished for leading an immoral life. "Come," said he, "let us accuse the bishop and get him sent away, and then you can do as you please." Another of his accusers, a friar of the third order of St. Francis, had promised five ducats to a woman if she would say that a female had appeared and  ordered her to tell the people to visit her image five times in the church of Santa Maria de' Campi. This absurd story was believed by the credulous multitude, till Vergerio sifted the matter and proved the imposture. He brought the woman before the podestà, Alvino Dora; she was convicted of falsehood and she and her two accomplices were sentenced to a short imprisonment.
This and other judicial acts, tending to unveil the hypocrisy of the friars, were made articles of accusation against him. It was said he had spoken of the monkish orders with contempt, and sneered at the practice of dressing the dead in the habit of St. Francis, and had declared that the soul could reap no benefit from the body wearing this monkish dress, and that it was only an expedient to get money, which would be better spent in feeding and clothing the poor. Another friar came forward to complain that the bishop had reproved him for having announced from the pulpit that he had in his possession a tooth of St. Apollonia, which was a sovereign remedy for toothache. So ignorant and malicious were these priests of Baal, that they averred the bishop had said that the books of St. Augustine and the writings of St. Paul ought to be thrown into the fire. This he positively denied, but owned that such were the corrupt lives of the friars that he had said it were better for a church to be burned down than for it to be made a place for unholy communications. One witness, Alvini Calino, was thought to bring a very serious accusation, when he stated that he had heard the bishop say the miracles painted on the walls of the temple at Loreto were not really performed there.
On the 15th of August, 1546, Vergerio published a full defence of himself against all the above accusations, together with a pastoral letter addressed to his diocese. To prove the folly of the legends so credulously swallowed by the multitude, he recited the ridiculous story of St. George, which was in itself a vindication. He shewed that Giacomo de Voragine classes this story among Apocryphas Scripturas, and that it was acknowledged as such by Paul III., and taken out of the breviary in consequence. As to having made free remarks to his friends on the evil of old abuses, he justified himself by referring to the canons, where it is commanded to sustain the truth even against the most ancient customs, and quotes St. Cyprian, who says, "consuetudo sine veritate vetustas erroris est, ancient practices not founded on truth  are errors." The worship of St. Christopher had been left out of the breviary, and for the honour of the church they ought to discard such old wives' fables. (70) He answered the accusation of disrespect to images by explaining that there was in a church an ill-shapen figure of St. George on horseback of pasteboard, as large as life. Near to this gigantic figure a representation of the king's daughter was suspended, and by her side an enormous beast. All these pasteboard gods hung down so low as to occupy a great portion of the church. He was accused of saying, "Throw down that great horse;" but it was not this figure which he had ordered to be removed, but the image of St. Anne, put up by some women in the church of Pirano, before which lamps were kept burning. It was an indecorous exhibition of a figure of wood lying on a bed, supposed to be giving birth to the Virgin Mary. All the women flocked to worship this figure, (71) and he was certainly very desirous of having it removed; but his wish had not been accomplished, for it was there still. He did not deny having said that it was better to give the oil to the poor than to burn it before the images of St. Anne and the Virgin; and he recollected having observed, when he saw the leaden seals (72) stamped with the heads of Peter and Paul, "Who would ever have thought of your heads being used for this purpose!" In short the whole of the accusations put together only proved that he was a reformer of crying abuses and traditional follies. There was no appearance of his being tinged with a shade of heresy, properly so called. Whatever might have been his doctrinal opinions he had not manifested them. He wished to do what he conceived to be his duty in discouraging these superstitions, as they were for the majority the whole of their religion. The bishop's good intentions were evident, and all good men were shocked at this attack on him.
The evidence against him was not strong enough to condemn or even to cite him to Rome, and he was not declared a heretic. Muzio, his townsman, a ready polemical writer, complains that  those persons who were sent to Capo d'Istria to take evidence against him were more Lutheran than the bishop. His enemies however were determined to ruin him, and combined their forces for this purpose. Annibale Grisone, Muzio, and Antonio Elio finally drove him from his untenable position of a reformer within the Roman Catholic Church. Antonio Elio owed his position to Vergerio's brother Aurelio, a knight of Rhodes; who while secretary to Clement VII. had taken this Elio, a man of ignoble birth, into his service and thus made his fortune. Vergerio reproaches him with ingratitude to his benefactor.
This Aurelio Vergerio was the elder brother, and seems to have had much influence at Rome, for Pietro Paolo said that he could have had the bishopric, but that they both agreed it was better to bestow it on their younger brother Giovan Battista. Our Vergerio gives an interesting account of a conversation which took place when Aurelio paid him a visit at Venice while he was in the Pope's service: "He opened his heart to me, God is my witness that this is true, and said he had discovered that the papacy was altogether a human policy, guided by worldly motives and not commanded by Christ." He died shortly after at Rome, and was supposed to have been poisoned by a salad. In the year 1548 our Vergerio had also to mourn the loss of his youngest brother Giovan Battista, bishop of Pola. Of him the survivor said, "He was a good man but of no great learning; God gives to each their several gifts. He lived for eighteen years at Pola, doing his duty as a resident bishop as far as he had light, as many can testify. Towards the end of his life it pleased God to enlighten him, and he began to understand that it was the papacy which had disturbed and disordered all Christendom. Once convinced of this, he laid aside his former views and adopted ours. Several of his canons and other priests followed his example, and some are now exiles for the truth, such as Rasoro (73) and Gernasio. As his death drew near he left his own bishopric and came to me; he died in my arms in a most christian manner, and was buried like a christian, not having time or opportunity to set any farther example or fulfil his desire to do something for the glory of God.  His relations did what they could; enough that there were no friars' superstitions or blasphemies, that is, auricular confession or unction with rancid oil. He wrote nothing but a paraphrase on the Psalm, 'Blessed are the undefiled, &c.,' which I afterwards printed. In short there can be no doubt that he was one of the elect of God, and one of those whom you call Lutheran; he is even noted in two or three of your Catalogues. This I say for the glory of God."
This was addressed to Fra Ippolito Chizzuola, who after Vergerio had left Italy published an invective against him. (74) Among other things the friar accuses him of forsaking the doctrines of his ancestors: to this futile argument he replied that if his ancestors had lived in this age of light (75) they would have embraced the same doctrines which he by the grace of God had been enabled to receive; and "I am sure," he added, "they would have been the last people in the world to reprove me, gifted as they were both with talent and influence, if I may be allowed thus to laud them."
While Vergerio was under the pressure of persecution, his friend the cardinal of Mantua wrote in his favour to the cardinal of Trent, saying, "he preached well and set a good example to his flock, but that his enemies had reported something he had said in the pulpit to the Nuncio La Casa at Venice, who cited him to appear." Gonzaga begs Madrucci to have this matter set at rest, that Vergerio may return to his bishopric. He adds:
The cardinal of Mantua continued steadily to defend Vergerio, and wrote the following letter to cardinal Farnese, the Pope's grandson, in his favour:
"Most Illustrious and Reverend Sir,
This earnest appeal, though so favourable to Vergerio, produced no effect; his enemies had been too successful in exciting prejudice against him at Rome. Other letters equally satisfactory were written on this occasion; one in particular from Giovan Maria Bocella, the Fiscal attorney of the Inquisition.
After Vergerio had been obliged to leave Italy he published these recommendatory letters in his reply to a violent invective against him by Fra Ippolito Chizzuola before quoted. (78) In the second chapter he alludes to the friar's animadversions on his (Vergerio's) assertion that it was only within the last hundred years that the light of the Gospel had entered Bohemia; and goes on to say that "those to whom it strikes home may chew the bitter cud of this assertion. Is it not well known that within the last few years the style of preaching is entirely changed even in Italy? Is it not evident that eloquence both in Latin and Italian is more in request? That the knowledge of Greek is much more extended than it was a few years back; and that by the favour of God philosophy and all other sciences are studied with greater attention and care? The friar says I speak falsely when I say that the Pope forbids the bishops to read the books of the reformers, and he denies that there is any such prohibition. Let us prove the fact Leo X. was the first to issue a censorial prohibition of these books, (79) which was an act of tyrannical injustice. Julius III. followed in the same track; in his bull he said 'that many asked permission to read in order to confute these works, but the contrary effect generally followed.' Such is the force of truth that those who asked permission to inform themselves how they might best answer and confute others were taken in their own snare and could  not get out of the dilemma. This prohibition extended to all men of whatever rank, degree, or condition; to bishops, archbishops, and the highest ecclesiastical dignitaries. These are the words of the papal bull which I printed at Poschiavo." (80)
Towards the close of the year 1548 Vergerio was dismissed from his bishopric by the legate. He obeyed, and retired to Padua: the legate enjoined him to go to Home to justify himself, but the cardinal of Mantua dissuaded him from venturing on this step, as the Pope was prejudiced against him. The legate, desirous of getting him within his grasp, cited him to appear at his episcopal palace, from whence he had been banished by a monitorio a few weeks before. This was only a pretence to entrap him, for he knew he would not appear; the summons having been disregarded, emissaries were sent to take him; but Vergerio, having received timely warning, fearing his life was in danger, fled to the Grisons country. This was just what his enemies desired; if they could not get hold of him for the Inquisition to handle, the next best thing was to drive him to confess himself a heretic.
This decisive but unwilling step broke up all connection with the Church of Rome. In a consistory held at Rome by Paul III. he was declared contumacious, deprived of the episcopal dignity, and pronounced to be an apostate and heretic. (81) It is doubtful whether Vergerio would ever have brought his mind to separate himself from the Romish hierarchy but for a tragical scene which he witnessed at Padua in 1548.
Francesco Spira, a distinguished lawyer, had zealously embraced the reformed opinions, and lost no opportunity of communicating them to his friends and neighbours. This was reported to the legate at Venice, and Spira was cited to appear before him: though aware of his danger he obeyed the summons, and in presence of the legate was subjected to a most scrutinizing  examination. Under the influence of fear he confessed he had been in error, promised obedience to the Church, and craved pardon for having departed from the faith of his forefathers. The legate, pleased with his submission, accepted his excuses, but insisted as a condition of forgiveness that on his return home he should make reparation for his former errors by publicly disavowing them. He assented, but on his return home he bitterly repented having made this engagement. At length, overcome by the entreaties of his family and friends, who pointed out the certain destruction which hesitation would bring upon him, he consented to make the public recantation required by the legate. But the struggle between terror and conscience was too violent; the consciousness of having offended his heavenly Father to please the apostle of error preyed so deeply on his mind, that he fell into a pitiable state of mental and bodily disease. Such was his desperation that he believed he had committed the unpardonable sin of lying to the Holy Ghost, lost all hope of the mercy of God, and of eternal salvation. He was removed from Cittadella to Padua; every possible remedy was tried to recover the tone of his mind; his friends and physicians in vain endeavoured to console him by speaking of the sovereign mercy of God. He believed himself irremediably doomed to the punishment of hell, and declared that he already felt the torments of the damned. That he not only could not love God, but that his heart was filled with hatred towards Him: argument was useless, for reason was dethroned. He refused all nourishment, and expired in the most frightful state of mental alienation. (82)
So melancholy an instance of human weakness and misfortune impressed the minds of men with universal terror. Vergerio, not naturally a very strong minded man, was so shocked at witnessing the miserable effects of inquisitorial power that he resolved to put himself beyond its reach, and immediately fled to the Grisons country. His flight however was more the consequence of fear than of any decided opposition to the religion of Rome, and at first he hesitated about entering into  controversy with the Church. In proof of this the following passage of a letter he wrote some time after shews he had by no means made up his mind to take up his lot with the reformers.
" Besides this undertaking I might perhaps be useful in matters pertaining to religion, owing to the friendship existing between me and the learned men of Germany; when either by means of a Council, or in the negotiation of some agreement or arrangement, your Excellency will see what I am able to do." (83)
When Vergerio arrived at the Grisons Vicosoprano was without a pastor, and the inhabitants gladly received him as their minister, and gave him the yearly stipend of one hundred and fifty crowns. (84) Crowds of refugees from Italy crossed the Alps to the beautiful vallies of the Grisons, where the Italian language was spoken, and where the freedom of speech and liberty of conscience denied by the Romish Church was freely enjoyed. In this country and the Val Settina Vergerio had many opportunities of preaching. Once he arrived at a small town called Pontesina, at the foot of Mount Bernino, immediately after the death of the parish priest The whole population of the village was assembled, with the judge at their head. Vergerio offered to preach; some objected, but the judge, more enlightened than the rest, expressed a desire to hear what the stranger would say, and he mounted the pulpit. His audience were so pleased with his sermon that they requested him to preach again the next day; which he did, and seized the opportunity of setting forth with much eloquence and fervour the chief doctrines of the Gospel. Justification by faith and the benefits of Christ's death were the subjects of his discourse, and he made such a happy impression on his hearers that with one voice they expressed a desire for a continuance of such preaching; and one of the Reformed ministers Bartolommeo Silvio of Cremona, was unanimously entreated to settle among them as their pastor. (85)
He greatly contributed to the increasing spread of the  Reformed opinions, and had the pleasure of consecrating the church of Poschiavo in the Val Bettina to the Protestant faith. The Diet had issued a declaration of religious liberty, and claimed their right to profess the Reformed religion. In the year 1550 Vergerio printed no less than twelve treatises, tending to rouse the lukewarm or to confirm the wavering; his chief forte was expatiating on the persecutions of the Church of Rome, and there can be no doubt that his frequent reproaches were sensibly felt as assaults against the despotism of the papacy. This kind of composition was more suited to the character of his mind than entering upon doctrine. The more serious and spiritual Reformers of Switzerland stood somewhat aloof till they clearly understood his opinions on important points. Some have one talent and some another; there can be no doubt that the better gift is that spiritual grace named charity; yet his controversial talents were eminently useful in sapping the foundations of priestly power. By holding up the abuses of superstition before the glass of the Gospel he destroyed their influence and exposed them to contempt and neglect. His voluminous correspondence with the Zurich Reformers proves his earnest desire to cooperate with them, and his diligence and activity among the Italian converts. From these letters we learn that he paid a visit to Zurich, and became personally acquainted with the zealous and able men who fought so valiantly for the maintenance of divine truth, and to whom the Christian world is so deeply indebted for their advocacy of sound scriptural doctrine. Vergerio, in one of his letters to Rodolph Gualter, alludes to some defamatory reports which had been circulated of his being too fond of eating and drinking; he appeals to those who knew his manner of life to defend him from such calumnies, (86) and begs them to write a letter in his favour to the ministers of the Grisons. With this request they cheerfully complied, and at the close of the same year he thanks them for the consolation afforded by their letter to the Synod. (87) Speaking of the reassembling of the Council, he says, "it will be free to the Pope's bishops, but to no one else. I am  preparing a treatise which will unfold the insidious arts of the Roman Catholic Church, which I will bring to you, as I think I have in my head some important ideas." (88) The following month he sent this new publication to Zurich, and wrote to Gualter that he had "circulated a great many copies in Italy to rouse those who are asleep, and who still put faith in the promises of antichrist." After spending ten days in visiting the churches in Val Settina he intends setting out for Zurich; meanwhile he begs Gualter, as he understands Italian so well, to translate his book into Latin. (89)
Already was there some confusion in the churches of the Val Settina; the ignorance and self-love of the converts made them unwilling to submit to any regulation or restraint; delighted with their freedom from the weight of the Roman yoke they were averse to every kind of organization. Vergerio discerned the danger, and his habits of business enabled him to counteract its ill effects. He wrote that "there were many antichrists, many wolves in sheep's clothing, and many false brethren." Agostino Mainardi, (90) pastor of Chiavenna, and his zealous assistant Giulio of Milano, (91) were very active in disseminating divine truth and in collecting the people into a regular congregation. All seemed to be going on well till the arrival of Camillo Renato, (92) a native of Sicily. He belonged to that brilliant class of meteoric minds distinguished by the gifts of eloquence. Characters of this description are generally incapable of detecting the subleties of error. They may be sincere christians, but unless their imaginations have been chastened by a lengthened acquaintance with divine truth they are unfit to be teachers. Untrained in arrangement of thought, unchecked by the fear  of being wrong, the rushing stream overflows its banks, and they deem themselves inspired when they are only misled. In the words of the eloquent but misguided Irving, "one cannot but love their zeal, and admire the ringlets of their childish beauty, and the freshness of their downy cheeks; but ah! what shall these avail in the fierce and fiery controversy, when a man must brave the battle's edge and snatch the martyr's crown from the midst of the fire!" These are reflections which every nascent church should lay to heart; they are more peculiarly suitable to Italian converts; born in a land of beauty and of song, the steeds of their fiery imaginations need a wholesome curb. Sincerity is not all in religion; we must add to our faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge temperance, to temperance patience, to patience godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity, and be perpetually growing in christian experience of our own hearts, and in what has been called the good sense of the Gospel, but it is more properly an advanced knowledge of divine truth which enables us to discern more clearly the wonderful combination of several links which form a perfect whole. It is an historical fact that the chief errors in religious belief have arisen from the separation of revealed truths from their chain of connection. Any one doctrine exclusively exaggerated loses its balanced position in the Divine Oracles and opens the way for error. To obviate these dangers, and to keep the congregations in the Grisons sound in their creed, Vergerio drew up a simple and scriptural confession of faith, (93) which he signed himself, and persuaded the other ministers to sign. (94)
Vergerio wrote to Rodolph Gualter at Zurich in 1551 that he had reconciled Camillo with the minister and church of Chiavenna, and obliged him to sign a confession of faith. (95) This  confession, drawn up by Vergerio to stop the spread of the Anabaptist opinions and keep the converts close to the doctrines of the Gospel, proves the soundness of his faith. As a whole it must be generally approved; and when we recollect that it is the work of a man brought up for so many years under the Roman ritual, we cannot but commend the diligence with which he must have studied the Scriptures before he could have attained such clear views of divine truth. Some of his premises, especially on baptism, are not borne out by Scriptural authority, and seem to have been dictated by a spirit of conservatism when surrounded by innovators. His object was evidently not to destroy but to build up, and it was scarcely possible wholly to divest himself of the ecclesiastical idea which the Roman Catholic Church attached to baptism. While Vergerio was devoting all the energies of a very active mind to the spread of the Gospel, and like St. Paul continually employed in abundant labours, Pope Julius III., though a very lukewarm churchman, after his elevation to the papacy, sent Paolo Odescalchi as legate into the Grisons country with the title of Apostolic Nuncio and Inquisitor, to preach to the Italian refugees and exhort them to return to the obedience of the Church. Vergerio did not allow his bull of office to circulate unnoticed, but wrote some very pointed remarks on its contents. (96) But this Romish foray made Vergerio's position more dangerous, and he began to think of taking refuge in Switzerland. There was a continual interchange of letters between the Swiss and Italian reformers; they translated each other's works into their several languages, or into Latin, for more extensive circulation. In March 1551 Vergerio wrote:
By a private hand he wrote—
Vergerio in his first publications only attacked the despotism of the Pope over the bishops and over the Council, and manifested his displeasure against La Casa and Muzio, (104) who had prevented his carrying out the reforms in his diocese which he had so much at heart; but when they in turn attacked him in writing, then he let loose his indignation against the Church of Rome and its partisans, and made use of strong and bitter but not untrue language against its corruptions. His pen was ever in motion till the latest hour of his life. A list of his books, eighty-nine in number, has been compiled, but it does not include all. (105)
It does not come within our plan to follow him out of Italy. His talents for negotiation were so highly appreciated that he was employed by D. Ferrante Gonzaga, governor of Milan, to arrange some affairs at Wilna. From thence Vergerio wrote on the 6th of November 1556, after he had openly declared himself a Protestant, to Ferrante Gonzaga:
In this letter he drops the title of bishop. (106)
He was invited to Tubingen by the duke of Wittemberg, and there in the year 1561 he had a discussion with the Nuncio, Delfino, who made an unavailing effort to persuade him to return to the Roman Catholic Church. (107) Vergerio died at Tubingen on the 4th of October 1565, and was buried on the 7th in the church of St. George. A sermon was preached at his fonerai by Jacobo Andrea, from 1 Tim. i. 12, 13. The preacher drew a parallel between the life of Paul and that of Vergerio, both having been adverse to the truth, and both having "obtained mercy because they did it ignorantly and in unbelief." An epitaph was written on Vergerio, comparing him with St. Paul. (3) He was not popular with any party; accustomed to associate with a higher class of persons, after he left the Church of Rome he was thought to assume too much authority over the simple converts. One reason of his unpopularity was that he declared he was "neither Lutheran, Zuinglian, nor a Calvinist, but a Christian," and thus lost the support of all parties. (108) We must not lose sight of the fact that he was rather driven out of the Church by persecution than from strong convictions of its unscriptural doctrines. His great forte was exposing the abuses and corruptions of the Roman Catholic Church, and this he did so well that posterity is under great obligations to him for the information contained in some of his works. We shall briefly note one or two.
The Catalogue of prohibited books (109) issued by Dalla Casa  the papal Nuncio in the month of May 1549, (110) called forth Vergerio's utmost indignation. He republished it in Italian (111) with notes and remarks, and the following preface:
Vergerio to his Christian Brethren.
Berni died at Florence in 1536. Vergerio added to the stanza of Berni the three famous sonnets of Francesco Petrarca, beginning —
The third is the strongest: nothing more true or more severe has ever been written against Rome.
A modern Italian (117) has admirably pourtrayed the antipathy of Rome to every species of reform. Speaking of the famous three days at Paris, he says, " A Catholic nation must perforce relinquish all hope of liberal government whatever; and the despotic power of the Pope cannot exist where liberal institutions prevail. When freedom reigns the Pope weeps, as Pasquin and Marforio say:
Created: Wednesday, March 02, 2016; Last Updated:
Tuesday, April 19, 2016