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John Calvin

John Calvin (1509-1564) was one of the leading figures of the Protestant Reformation. The French-born Calvin, who eventually settled in Geneva, Switzerland, was the author of Institutes of the Christian Religion, a seminal work in Protestant theology.

Calvin was born in Noyon and trained as a lawyer. John CalvinCalvin experienced a religious conversion in 1533, several years after the initiation of the Protestant Reformation by Martin Luther. Three years later he published the first edition of the Institutes, a defense of his brand of Protestantism. Soon after, he settled in Geneva for the first time, but was expelled from the city, forcing him to move to Strasbourg, where he lived from 1538 to 1541.

Returning to Geneva, Calvin became a leading religious figure, preaching upwards of three times a week. Most of these sermons were delivered without notes and lasted more than an hour. It was not until 1549 that a scribe was assigned to record them. His later career focused on the creation of an institute for the education of Geneva’s children, the genesis of the University of Geneva. Calvin was hailed as one of the primary theologians of the Protestant Reformation, although much of his thinking was distinct from Luther’s, and the two men fell out over the interpretation of the Eucharist. He died in 1564 and was buried in a unmarked grave to avoid the creation of a cult around his remains.

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