John Calvin, Reformer

26 May -- Commemoration
If celebrated as a Lesser Festival, Common of Pastors, page 483

The French reformer John Calvin was born at Noyon in Picardy in 1509 and, since he was intended for an ecclesiastical career, he received the tonsure and his first benefice at the age of twelve, not untypical at this time. It proved to be the only 'order' he ever received. Two years later he began studying theology at Paris but for some reason changed to law and moved to Orléans where he came under his first Protestant influences. He broke with the Roman Church in 1533, having had a religious experience which he believed commissioned him to purify and restore the Church of Christ. The first edition of his Institutes appeared in 1536, being basically a justification of Reformation principles. Calvin accepted a position in Geneva which involved organising the Reformation in that city and, with a few absences, spent most of the the rest of his life there, becoming the undisputed master of the moral and ecclesial lives of the citizenry. His pre-eminence could be seen in that he wrote to the Protector Somerset in England indicating to him what changes he felt should be made and corresponded similarly with other nations' leaders. During all this, his literary output never wavered. His immense reputation and influence have continued in the churches of the Reform to the present day. He died on this day in 1564.