UU Minute #17

Biandrata and David Meet

People meeting each other for the first time is a common event. Some first meetings turn out to be historically notable.

The day Eleanor Gordon and Mary Safford first met – it was around 1860, and the two were children. They would both grow up to become Unitarian ministers and the nucleus of the Iowa Sisterhood movement in Unitarian history.

The day Curtis Reese and John Dietrich first met – it was 1917 at the Western Unitarian Conference. The two would work together spearheading the Unitarian Humanist movement.

Another pivotal first meeting was that of Giorgio Biandrata and Ferenc David in 1564. If you had to pinpoint the day Transylvanian Unitarianism began, your best answer would be: that day.

We’ve mentioned the conflict between Lutherans and Calvinists over whether the body and blood of Christ were present in the bread and wine of the Lord’s supper – or whether these were simply symbols. And that the Transylvanian Diet of 1563 renewed and confirmed Isabella’s earlier edict of religious toleration, and that this didn’t much ease the conflict. The next year, 1564, a General Synod was called in Nagyenyed (now called Aiud), and the king sent “his most excellent Giorgio Biandrata” from the capital, Gyulafehervar (now called Alba Iulia) 30 km up the road to the synod to try to settle the controversy.

After days of debate, with Biandrata arguing for the Calvinist side, it was evident neither side would bend. The Calvinists then sought separate official recognition, which King John granted.

At that 1564 synod, Biandrata met Ferenc David, at that time also arguing for the Calvinist side. The two men were impressed with each other, and in private conversations each disclosed an interest in departing from Lutheranism rather farther than Calvinism did. That meeting was the beginning of what would become Unitarianism in Transylvania.

NEXT: Ferenc David and the Unitarian Mind

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