The Legacy of the Heretic

Sunday, March 26, 2017

“The Legacy of the Heretic” | Rev. Julia Hamilton

One of the rarest books in the world today is titled “Christianismi Restitutio,” The Restoration of Christianity. Published in 1553, it was the last book written by Michael Servetus, and it was the book that was strapped to his arm as he was burned at the stake for heresy by the famously strict protestant reformer John Calvin. Although Servetus had 1000 copies printed, only three survive today. The rest were all hunted down and burned as fast as John Calvin could get his hands on them. Ironically, one of the three copies that still exists was Calvin’s own. It seems Calvin could not bring himself to burn what he thought was the last and final one. If you ever want to see one of these pieces of our Unitarian history, they can be found in the National Library of France, the Austrian National Library, and the Edinburgh University Library.

Why was this book so terrible, that it was destroyed by Protestants and Catholics alike? What was the crime that made Michael Servetus hated and hunted by both the Catholic Inquisition and the reform-minded Protestants?

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