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Saint-Salvi and the Protestant Reform

Cité épiscopale d’Albi

That the canons of Saint-Salvi, like those of Sainte-Cécile, were ’secularised’ canons, spared the constraints of a rule that they considered themselves incapable of respecting, does not put their commitment in question but all the same marks a need for adjustment.

Doubtlessly damaging was the fact that priests were not instructed in the teachings of the bible even though, thanks to the birth of the printing press, it was now widely available.

In fact only one of Saint-Salvi’s ten canons knew how to read and they contented themselves simply to distribute the sacraments to a populace that demanded no more of them. However, they would soon have to face up to the protestant preachers with a deep knowledge of scripture.

At the turn of the century the situation in Albi was typical of the situation throughout the kingdom. The rich Bishop of Albi was part of the high society of rich families who exploit the town for their own profit. Lutherans were everywhere but were much dispersed.

In Geneva, the protestant Rome, Calvin was organising. The reformed Church could not be more different from the Catholic: without hierarchy, a network of parishes elected their pastor who remained accountable to their parish.

French Protestantism conformed easily to the Calvinist model, this assuring its solidity. Police or customs barricades were not enough to prevent bundles of books disguised as bundles of saffron or pastel from entering the city of Albi.

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