UU Minute #28

Poland before Fausto

Poland, when the 40-year-old Fausto Sozzini arrived there in 1579, was already a land with the beginnings of Unitarian thought. Diversity brings reason and tolerance, the central themes of Unitarianism, to the fore, and medieval Poland was a place of relative cultural diversity. Catholics, Jews, Eastern Orthodox, and Moslems coexisted in general harmony.

Among Catholics, Priests could marry; the Mass was conducted in Polish rather than in Latin. The monarchy was limited. The king was elected by a group of nobles, and the nobles met in council to make the country’s laws.

Polish woman Katarzyna Weiglowa professed the unity of God, rejected the trinity, and refused to call Jesus the Son of God – for which blasphemy she was, at the age of 80, executed in Krakow in 1539.

That same year, 1539, Isabella, oldest child of the Polish king, married John Zapolya and became queen of Transylvania where her 1557 edict would promote religious toleration.

In 1546, a character we know only as “Spiritus” questioned the trinity in a meeting with prominent Catholic leaders, some of whom, disturbed by Spiritus’s arguments, would eventually switch over and support the antitrinitarian Minor Reformed Church.

In 1556, Peter Gonesius began preaching Unitarian views in Poland. Gonesius had studied in Italy – and read Miguel Serveto there.

In 1558, the Italian Giorgio Biandrata entered Poland for a five-year stay in between his stints in Transylvania. During that time he became court physician to Queen Bona, Isabella’s mother, led the heretical party at synods, and promoted the Unitarian ideas: antitrinitarianism and religious toleration.

Thus was the way paved in Poland for Fausto Sozzini’s 1579 arrival.

NEXT: Antitrinitarianism in Poland: The Minor Reformed Church

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