According to the two-day program of Pope Francis' visit to the Piedmont from 21 to 22 June, he will be the first pope to visit a church of the Waldenses in Turin/Italy, according to a media release by Kathpress.
It is envisaged that first thing on Monday morning, the second day of his trip, Pope Francis will meet Waldensian dignitaries in the Protestant church in the city center of Turin for 90 minutes and they will pray together the Lord's Prayer. "This is a gesture of brotherhood in a new ecumenical season", said Eugenio Bernardini, moderator of the Waldensian Board.
The Protestant faith community whose geographic center is located in the so-called Waldensian valleys west of Turin, has its origins and foundation by Peter Valdes (1140-1206), a merchant from Lyon/France. In the Middle Ages, the Waldensians were persecuted as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church.
According to the World Council of Churches, the Waldensian Church is represented mainly in Italy as well as in Argentina and Uruguay and has worldwide about 25,000 members. Of that, according to the Waldensian Church in Germany, live alone in Italy 21,000 where the Waldenses form a common church with the Methodists since 1979 - the Chiesa Evangelica Valdese (Union of the Methodist and Waldensian Churches).