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Peter Martyr Vermigli

1499 - 1562

Pietro Mariano Vermigli, known to the English Reformation as Peter Martyr Vermigli, was an Italian-born Reformer who contributed a systematic theology to the Protestant church and greatly influenced Reformed views of the Lord’s Supper. Born into a wealthy family in Florence, he was taught Latin at an early age by his mother and then entered a monastery. He was trained in theology at the University of Padua, where he also studied ancient Greek texts and taught himself Greek. When he became a vicar in Bologna in 1530, he learned biblical Hebrew from a Jewish man so that he could read the Old Testament in its original languages. As he studied the Bible, read Augustine, and came into contact with other European Reformers, his own thought underwent evangelical conversion, and he began cautiously to teach and work for reform. But he was forced to flee Italy upon the reconstitution of the Roman Inquisition in 1542. He made his way to Strasbourg by way of Zürich, was welcomed by the German Reformers, and took up a teaching post in the Old Testament at the Senior School with Martin Bucer. In 1548, he was invited to Oxford by Thomas Cranmer to assist in the English Reformation under King Edward VI. There he was greatly influential among the Reformers and helped with the development of the Book of Common Prayer. He returned to Strasbourg in 1553 when Catholic Mary Tudor succeeded her Protestant brother, but after a few years, his differences with the Lutherans over the doctrines of predestination and the Lord’s Supper led him to accept an invitation to Zürich from Heinrich Bullinger. He lived and worked there until his death in 1562.

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