This religious group dates back to the Middle Ages. They resided in Italy wishing to read and preach the Bible, however, this was not allowed during those times. Only the Pope and priests had this ability.
They continued to read and preach the Bible, and because of this were persecuted. The church called for their extinction so they hid when following their beliefs.
After centuries of persecution many members of the Waldensian’s left their European home settling in what was to be known as Valdese, North Carolina. A community remains here with a museum explaining their journey. It is a fascinating legacy. If interested in religious history I encourage visiting this lovely small town. The visit begins with a movie and a well versed Waldensian docent leads patrons through their history.
Contact the for museum hours. http://www.waldensianheritagemuseum.com 828-874-1111
208 Rodoret Street South Valdese, North Carolina 28690
After the movie there are several placards explaining the journey of the Waldensian’s.
Exhibits explain how the group survived when they arrived in North Carolina in 1893.
The Waldensian’s selected this area of North Carolina due to it’s railroad access. However, working the land was not easy for farming. They built a saw mill generating lumber for building homes and the women began bakeries. Wine making was another industry. They eventually branched out into the textile industry.
On Main Street there is an interesting memorial with murals dedicated to the Waldensian’s.
But my favorite was the 125th anniversary railroad memorial.
It was here on May 29,1893 where 29 pioneers began their life in the United States of America.
Other Summer Events
During mid-July there is a play, From This Day Forward, which describes the journey of the Waldensian’s.
There also is a summer festival the second Saturday in August.
Next: Valdese Main Street