The name Forterocca means “mighty fortress” and comes from the Martin Luther song “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” OM Italy built this conference center in the tiny community of Bobbio Pellice, Italy, because of the rich history of the Waldensian church.
I introduced the Waldensians back in this post. As visitors to Forterocca and the OM Arts training school, Incarnate, we were given a tour of some of the Waldensian sites in the area. The Waldensians lived under the strain of persecution for many centuries. We visited this church (called a temple; the people are the church) where the simplicity of their faith is obvious.
Not much decorates the walls, but this scripture: “The cross is the power of God. But we preach Christ crucified. I Cor 1:18, 23.”
At the front of the temple sit two Bibles, facing the congregation, indicating that the Scriptures are to be read by all. If I remember correctly, they represented two local languages, possibly Italian and French. The Waldensians prized literacy and translated the Word of God into the vernacular.
The windows were plain, without stained-glass, because the Waldensians believed that the light should go out from the temple rather than come into the temple.
The Waldensians also had a college, where they trained young men in the Scriptures and sent them into the world. It was a very small place, made of stone. Those that trained them were called “uncles,” and probably only about eight could be trained at one time.
The Waldensians were forced to live above a certain height in the mountains, and under the strain of persecution, they worshiped in caves high up in the mountains. Once while about 100 gathered in a cave, their persecutors poured fuel into a hole in the top, and then fire. Many of those who escaped were killed. Some managed to escape with their lives. Within one of those caves, our guide shared this story with us.
It is because of the legacy of these believers that OM Italy chose to build Forterocca in the Pellice Valley. Their desire is to once again see young people trained in the Scriptures and go out from Bobbio to share the gospel. OM Arts was captivated by this call and chose Forterocca as the place to hold Incarnate. In the next post I will share how Incarnate has become a part of this legacy of training and sending out.