The school of the barba

(Il Coulége di barba)

An ancient stone hut deep in the Angrogna Valley, at Pra del Torno, where in pre-Reformation times itinerant Waldensian teachers (barba) studied scripture and prepared themselves for their rounds across the continent.

The site, restored through the efforts of Pastor Stefano Bonnet in the 19th century, occupies a key niche in the Waldensian collective memory.

from ALLE PORTE D'ITALIA, a book by the famous italian writer Edmondo De Amicis (1884)

The Waldensian Thermopylae: The school of the barba

Interior of the coulege, cut by
Paolo Paschetto, 20th century

«...At length we came upon that mysterious sanctuary-fortress Pra del Torno, the very heart of the Valleys: here in the pre-Reformation era was the theological school for 'teachers, evangelists, and martyrs.' Here scripture and Latin alike were studied, pocket manuscripts of portions of scripture were copied and religious tracts were written.

From here the neo-pastors departed, two-by-two, to meet their sisters and brothers all across the continent--to Calabria, to Puglia, to Moravia, Hungary and Bohemia. Ostensibly, lest they draw attention to hostile eyes, they were merchants or physicians, but their real calling, as opportunity would provide, was seeding the word of God...»

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