Sabbath Sentinel: Peter Waldo, Waldensians, and the Sabbath


The May 2023 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel put out by the Bible Sabbath Association, which is not a Church of God group (though it has members that are in the COGs, as well as members who are not), has the following:

Peter Waldo, Waldensians, and the Sabbath

By Dr. Bob Thiel

Some have asserted that those who have called themselves some version of the term Waldensian (sometimes also referred to as Vaudois) always kept Sunday.

Did any of the Waldensians keep the seventh-day Sabbath?

Did all of them?

What about Peter Waldo?

Seventh-day Adventist scholar Gerard Damsteegt has stated:

Although there is no record that Waldo and his followers observed the seventh-day Sabbath, we know that several movements related to the Waldenses were reported to observe this custom. [i]

Actually, the above scholar actually provided evidence that Peter Waldo and his followers kept the Sabbath in the same article, more of which will be cited later.

Now, let it be made clear that scholars who have looked into the Waldensians have concluded that at least some of them kept the seventh-day Sabbath—despite the fact that they do not today.

Here is an old report from old English (where the letter ‘f ’ was often used instead of the letter ‘s,’ so it is changed below) from a Baptist historian in the 18th century:

Some of the inhabitants of the Pyrenees, and of the adjacent states, and not those of the vallies of Piedmont, were the true original Waldenses, … Some of these christians were called Sabbati, Sabbatati, and Insabbatati, and more frequently Inzabbatati. … one says, they were so named from the hebrew word sabbath, because they kept the saturday for the Lord’s day. Another says, they were so called because they rejected all the festivals, or sabbaths, in the low latin sense of the word, which the catholick church religiously observed.[ii]

So, there were multiple types of Waldensians, and many kept the seventh-day Sabbath.

Notice the following:

One of the primary sources of evidence of Waldensian Sabbathkeeping during the first half of the thirteenth century comes from a collection of five books written against the Cathars and Waldensians about 1241-1244 by Dominican inquisitor Father Moneta of Cremona in northern Italy.

Moneta passionately defended himself against criticism from Waldensians and Cathars that Catholics were transgressors of the Sabbath commandment. In the chapter De Sabbato, et De Die Dominico he discussed the significance of the seventh-day Sabbath of Exodus 20:8, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” and contrasted it with the value of the Lord’s day, his term for the first day of the week. …

Sabbathkeeping among Waldensians was most widespread in Bohemia and Moravia, places to which they fled during papal persecution.

A fifteenth-century manuscript, published by church historian Johann Döllinger in History of the Sects {Beiträge zur Sektengeschichte des Mittelalters (Munich: Beck, 1890), Vol. II, p. 662} reports that Waldensians in Bohemia “do not celebrate the feasts of the blessed virgin Mary and the Apostles, except the Lord’s day. Not a few celebrate the Sabbath with the Jews.” [iii]

Here is a report from the Lutheran historian Johann Mosheim concerning a group in the 12th century with Waldensian connections and two of their tenets:

the denomination of the Pasaginians … The first was a notion, that the observance of the law of Moses, in everything except the offering of sacrifices, was obligatory upon Christians; in consequence of which they circumcised their followers, abstained from those meats, the use of which was prohibited under the Mosaic economy, and celebrated the Jewish sabbath. The second tenet that distinguished this sect was advanced in opposition to the doctrine of three persons in the divine nature. [iv]

So, they kept the Sabbath, abstained from unclean meats, and were opposed to the trinitarian view. While not all the views that Mosheim had about the Pasaginians were Church of God views, apparently some called by that name were Church of God Christians. It should also be noted that Mosheim believed that there were two types of Waldnesians. One considered that the Church of Rome was a real Christian church, whereas the other considered the Church of Rome to be the harlot of Revelation 17.[v] Others have written that one type of Waldensian was fairly close to the Greco-Romans, whereas the other type was much more independent of them.[vi]

In the 17th century, Peter Allix reported about beliefs of the early Waldensians from a critic and then made his own comments:

That the Law of Moses is to be kept according to the letter, and that the keeping of the Sabbath, Circumcision, and other legal observances, ought to take place. They hold also, that Christ the Son of God is not equal with the Father, and that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, these three Persons, are not one God and one substance; and, as a surplus to these their errors, -they judge and condemn all the doctors of the Church, and universally the whole Roman Church. Now, since they endeavour to defend this their error by testimonies drawn from the New Testament and Prophets, I shall, with assistance of the grace of Christ, stop their mouths, as David did Goliah’s, with their own sword. [vii]

But here, first of all, we are to take notice, that the Waldenses and Albigenses had both of them the same belief… the difference between the Waldenses and the Church of Rome was not so small, that they could be looked upon only as schismatics, as the Bishop of Meaux has been pleased to imagine … the Waldenses, or disciples of Waldo, having been particularly famous for their refusing to swear, … Peter Waldo’s translating of the Bible, which must have been done before the year 1180, shews, that in France there was already a language different from the Latin tongue, [viii]

The above suggests that they held several Church of God doctrines including: binitarianism, non-swearing of oaths, and Sabbath-keeping.

The Petrobrusians (considered related to the Waldenses) kept the Sabbath and were condemned for it by the Roman Catholic saint Bernard in the 12th century.[ix] Notice the following from a Sunday-keeping writer (where I have typed it as originally written–knowing that now, the ‘f ’characters below would have been an ‘s’ in modern writing):

the feventh day Sabbath … In S. Bernard’s dayes it was condemned in the Petrobufiani. [x]

So, yes, some of the immediate predecessors of Peter Waldo and the Waldensians kept the seventh-day Sabbath and were condemned for it. Peter Waldo likely was in contact with some considered Petrobrusians.

The Patarenes (considered related to the Waldenses) kept the Sabbath and were condemned for it by Cardinal Damian around the same time. [xi]

Now what about Peter Waldo himself? Here is more from SDA scholar Gerard Damsteegt:

With few exceptions, Waldensians today deny that the ancient Waldenses kept the seventh-day Sabbath. However, historical evidence indicates that many did observe Sabbath during the Middle Ages. During the early part of the seventeenth century, the Swiss histo-rian Melchior Goldastus (1576–1635) commented on Emperor Frederic II’s Constitution of 1220 against heretics. He reasoned that the label insabbatati was used to describe heretics during the thirteenth century “because they judaize on the Sabbath,” that is, they kept the Sabbath like the Jews. He mentioned that the “Valdenses” were often called “Insabbatati,”indicating that during that time there were Waldenses who kept the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday) as a day of rest. …

Primary sources show that, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, there were two groups of Waldenses–one group that observed Sunday as the Lord’s day, the other that kept the seventh-day Sabbath of the Bible. Our research reveals that the title insabbatati could apply to (1) Waldenses who rejected Catholic festivals and holy days, or sabbaths, and observed only Sunday as the Lord’s day and (2) Waldenses who, in addition, rejected Sunday as a Catholic institution and kept the seventh-day Sabbath of the Bible. The title sabbatati, as applied to heretics, was used to characterize Waldenses who stood out because of their observance of the seventh-day Sabbath. (Damsteegt PG. The ancient Waldenses: Did the Reformation predate Luther? Ministry, October 2017, pp. 23,24)

The Waldensian historian, Emilio Comba, admits that northern Italy was a stronghold of various dissident groups associated with the Waldenses, some of which kept the Sabbath and often influenced and merged with the various groups of the Poor of Lyon and Poor Lombards. Sabbath keeping among the Waldenses was most widespread in Bohemia and Moravia. An inquisitor’s manuscript from the fifteenth century reports that Waldenses in Bohemia “do not celebrate the feasts of the blessed virgin Mary and the Apostles, except the Lord’s day. Not a few celebrate the Sabbath with the Jews.” … Most historians identify Tourlupins with the Picardian branch of Waldenses. A company of them was arrested in 1420. Well-preserved manuscripts mention that they “upheld that the Saturday must be celebrated instead of Sunday.”

From the end of the twelfth century, opponents of the Waldenses called them insabbatati, insabbatatis, xabatati, xabatenses, sabbatati, sabatatos, inzabattati, insabbatatorum, and insabbatatos. These words can be traced back to the basic forms of insabbatati and sabbatati, because of Latin declensions. … The first time the word insabbatati appeared in the existing Latin literature is in an edict issued in 1192 against heretics by Alfonso II, King of Aragon, (1152–1196), Count of Barcelona, and Count of Provence. This edict warned against the Valdenses (Waldenses) and identified them as Insabbatatos and Pauperes de Lugduno (Poor of Lyon). The edict, however, did not explain why Waldenses were called Insabbatatos. The next use of this term was in an 1197 edict issued by the son of Alfonso II, Peter II, King of Aragon, (1174–1213) and Count of Provence. This document called them Sabatati and Pauperes de Lugduno. …

From the various accounts of Waldenses rejecting holy days, festivals or sabbaths, it is not surprising that, as late as the time of archbishop James Usher (1581–1656), there were many who believed that insabbatati referred to those Waldenses who worshiped by judaizing on the Sabbath. Concerning the word insabbatati, Jesuit Inquisitor Pegne also admitted that “many used to think it came from Sabbath, and that they [Waldenses] observed the Sabbath according to the custom of the Jews.” …

Since the Middle Ages, historians have characterized the Waldenses by the uncomplimentary names insabbatati and sabbatati to indicate their unique attire by the type of shoes they wore, or their unique belief in rejecting Catholic holy days or festivals and practices. The research underlying this article has tried to decode the confusion surrounding these names. This has led to the following insights for historiography, previously unnoticed. From the analysis of the shoe theory, the research brought out that the wearing of perforated shoes was not introduced by or was not the custom of the Waldenses or the Poor of Lyon, but it was a custom introduced by the Poor Catholics and the Reconciled Poor. …

The term sabbatati also could have been used to describe some groups of Waldenses who followed the Jewish practice of resting on the Sabbath. This fits the meaning of both Insabbatati as depicting the rejection of Catholic holy days, Sabbaths, and teachings, and sabbatati describing the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath. Primary sources show that one inquisitor in the thirteenth century wrote a book against the Waldenses and Cathars in which he refuted their criticism that Roman Catholics observed Sunday instead of the seventh-day Sabbath. This is evidence that there were Waldenses and Cathars who kept the seventh-day Sabbath during the high Middle Ages. Additional evidence shows that several groups closely associated and considered part of the Waldensian movement did indeed keep the seventh-day Sabbath as early as the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. [xii]

While there may be debate regarding the precise year of Alphonso’s decree, notice the following:

Again to the South-West, about AD. 1190, we read of a public discussion between certain Valdenses and Catholics near Narbonne:and in 1194 of a Decree of Alphonzo II of Arragon against them …

[596] “Waldenses sive Insabbatatos, qui alio nomine se vocant Pauperes de Lugduno,…ab omni regno nostro, tanquam inimicos crucis Christi,…et regni publicos hostes, exire ac fugere praecipinius.” [xiii]

I have translated the above as follows:

“The Waldenses, or the Insabbatatos, who call themselves the Poor of Lyons by another name, … from all our kingdom, as enemies of the cross of Christ, … and the public enemies of the kingdom, to go forth and flee from the headlands.”

The fact that the followers of Peter Waldo may not have been publicly accused of keeping the seventh-day Sabbath until the late 12th century could possibly suggest that some who were earlier categorized as Waldensians did not then do so.

Yet, since Peter Waldo lived until 1205 in the 13th century, the fact that his people were called insabbatati by the end of the 12th century looks to be evidence that Peter Waldo and his followers were keeping the seventh-day Sabbath by then.

As far as Peter Waldo goes, it is my view that he initially (c. 1160-1179) may or may not have been a Sabbath-keeper, but was one, probably no later than 1180, after exposure to some others in his region who held Church of God-type doctrines.

Dr. Thiel has been interested in the Church of God for over 50 years. He was baptized by a Worldwide Church of God minister in 1977. He writes extensively. He is currently the Overseeing Pastor of the Continuing Church of God (, one of the top four groups (in terms of congregants) whose leaders were once part of the old Worldwide Church of God. Hundreds of thousands know him as “COGwriter” as he writes over 1000 news posts and articles per year at

End Note References

[i] Damsteegt PG. DECODING ANCIENT WALDENSIAN NAMES: NEW DISCOVERIES. Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol. 54, 2016, No. 2, Autumn 2016, p. 254)

[ii] Robinson R. Ecclesiastical Researches. Francis Hodson, publisher. 1792, pp. 299-304

[iii] Damsteegt PG. Were Waldensians Sabbath-keepers? Adventist World, September 6, 2017

[iv] Mosheim JL, Coote C, Gleig G. An Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern: In which the Rise, Progress, and Variations of Church Power, are Considered in Their Connexion with the State of Learning and Philosophy, and the Political History of Europe During that Period, Volume 1. Translated by Archibald Maclaine. Plaskitt & Cugle, 1840, p. 333

[v] Moshiem, p. 333

[vi] Froom LE. The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Volume 1. Review and Herald, 1950, p. 831

[vii] Allix P. Some Remarks upon the Eccelisastical History of the Ancient churches of Piedmont. Originally published 1690, Oxford reprint 1831, p. 169

[viii] Ibid, pp. 173, 183, 184

[ix] Andrews J. History of the Sabbath and First Day of the Week. Reprint by Teach Services, 1998, p. 421

[x] White F, Bifhop of Ely. A Treatise on the Sabbath Day …. Richard Badger, 1635, p. 8

[xi] Wilkinson B. Reprint by Teach Services, 1994, pp. 234-235

[xii] Damsteegt PG. DECODING ANCIENT WALDENSIAN NAMES: NEW DISCOVERIES. Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol. 54, 2016, No. 2, 237–258

[xiii] Elliot EB, ed. The Horae Apocalypticae. Originally finished in 1860. Cross The Border Publishing, reprint 2018, Chapter VII and reference 596

We earlier put together the following sermonette related to the Waldensians:


Jesus said that the true church would continue to the end of the age. Did any in the groups called Waldensians (or Waldenses), Vaudois, or Moravians have apostolic succession? Were there such claims over 500 years ago?  Did any group claim to have an actual apostolic succession list of bishops? Was such a list at least partially accepted by the British Parliament in the 18th century or the Greek Orthodox Church in the 15th century or others centuries ago? Could the Waldenses have came from the true church in Antioch or Asia Minor in the 3rd or 4th centuries? Do modern American Waldensians claim to have such a list? What about the ones associated with that church or its Archivo Della Tavola Valdese in Italy? Did Dr. Thiel put together such a list and share it with them? Can such a list be seen today? Dr. Thiel goes over that and some of his research into this topic, while also asking for others to help fill in the gaps or assist in improving the list in this video. Dr. Thiel also discusses its symbol with a candle on a lampstand pointing to the fourth star and Jesus words in Revelation.

Here is a link to our video: Waldensian Apostolic Succession.

The true Christian Church of God, and all of its true ministers, have laying on of hands succession from the original apostles to present.

Some items of possibly related interest may include the following:

Another Look at the Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath Did Ignatius write against the Sabbath and for Sunday? What about the Didache? What does the actual Greek reveal?
The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church? Here is a related sermon video The Christian Sabbath and How and Why to Keep It.
The Christian Sabbath. This is a series of articles from the Catholic Mirror essentially proving that the biblical Sabbath was Saturday, that the Lord’s day in Revelation 1 is not a reference to Sunday, that the Church of Rome implemented Sunday, and that nearly all Protestants followed Rome.
Early Sabbath Keeping in North America When did Europeans first keep the Sabbath in North America? Did the pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower keep Saturday or Sunday?
How to Observe the Sabbath How should you keep the Sabbath? This is an old article by Raymond Cole, with updated information for the 21st century.
The Dramatic Story of Chinese Sabbathkeepers This reformatted Good News article from 1955 discusses Sabbath-keeping in China in the 1800s.
Is God Unreasonable? Some have suggested that if God requires Sabbath-keeping He is unreasonable. Is that true? Here is a link to a related article in Mandarin Chinese 一个不合理的神?
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays. A related sermon is Which Spring Days should Christians observe?
Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord?
Most Protestant scholars say Sunday is the Lord’s Day, but is that what the Bible teaches?
Sunday and Christianity Was Sunday observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians? Who clearly endorsed Sunday? What relevance is the first or the “eighth” day? A related sermon is also available: Sunday: First and Eighth Day?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they?
Polycarp of Smyrna: The Heretic Fighter Polycarp was the successor of the Apostle John and a major leader in Asia Minor. Do you know much about what he taught? A YouTube video or related interesy may be: Polycarp of Smyrna: Why Christians should know more about him.
Theophilus of Antioch This is one of the second century leaders of some Christians in Antioch and is considered a Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.
The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast This is a free draft/unedited pdf book explaining the what the Ten Commandments are, where they came from, how early professors of Christ viewed them, and how various ones, including the Beast of Revelation, will oppose them. A related sermon is titled: The Ten Commandments and the Beast of Revelation.

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