A Biographical Sketch Of John Diodati -- By: Andrea Ferrari
RBTR 4:1 (Jan 2007) p. 27
A Biographical Sketch Of John Diodati
* Andrea Ferrari is pastor of Reformed Bapitst Church Filadelfia in Milan, Italy, Editorial Director of Alfa & Omega, Editor of Review of Pastoral Practice, and has tranlated numerous Reformed works into Italian. This article is a slight revision of chapter one of Ferrari’s new book John Diodati’s Doctrine of Holy Scripture. The book is published by and available from Reformation Heritage Books (www.heritagebooks.org). RBTR thanks Reformation Heritage Books for permission to print this article.
In the third quarter of the Sixteenth Century, many Italian families were obliged to flee from the Tuscan republic of Lucca because of the great persecution implemented by the Roman Inquisition aimed at crushing the impressive success of the evangelical doctrines of the Reformation.1 It seems that “almost all the leading families [of Lucca] had a Reformed person in the house.”2 This movement of refugees, begun in 1542, increased especially in 1555 and lasted for more than two decades.3
The Diodatis were one of the wealthiest families of Lucca.4 Michele Diodati was a doctor and a businessman, as well as a very educated man. He had served a number of terms as Gonfalonier of Justice and as Elder of the city. He was very open to the preaching of the Reformers; so much so in fact that in 1558 he was called to Rome and the Inquisition compelled him to confess his loyalty to the Pope. His son, Carlo, was born in Lucca in September 1541, at the same time as Pope Paul III and the Emperor Charles V were meeting in the city of Lucca to discuss Lutherans, Turks, and the coming general Council of the Roman Catholics. One night, the Emperor was awakened by the sound of people coming and going and by the cries of someone in pain. He was told that a noble woman, Anna Bonvisi, wife of Michele Diodati, was giving birth to a baby. Charles V wanted to stand as godfather to the child, giving
RBTR 4:1 (Jan 2007) p. 28
him his own name. The Pope conducted the ritual and the little boy was named Carlo (Charles).5 Surely neither “representative of God” who came to Lucca to crush the “Lutheran hydra” could have imagined that their godson would have been the father of John Diodati, the most influential promoter of the Reformation in Italy.6 Carlo Diodati fled to Geneva in 1567 and in March 1568 was declared a heretic by Rome.
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