Gentilis, John Valentine

, a native of Cosenza, in the kingdom of Naples, left his country on account of religion about the middle of the sixteenth century, and retired to Geneva, where several Italian families had already formed a church. Among those Italian refugees there weie some who began to subtilize with regard to the mystery of the Trinity, and the words essence, person, coessential, &c. Blandrata, and John Paul Alciatus, were the chief of these innovators, with an advocate named Matthew Gribaud. But although the subject was treated without noise, and by private writings, their zeal occasioned the articles of faith, which were drawn up in the Italian consistory, the 18th of May 1558, and contained the most pure and orthodox doctrine with relation to that mystery, and by which the subscribers promised in precise terms, and on pain of being reputed perjured and perfidious, to do | nothing, directly or indirectly, which might wound it, Gentilis subscribed these articles, and yet persisted in propagating his errors clandestinely. The magistrates then took cognizance of the affair, and he was convicted of having violated his subscription; which he endeavoured to excuse by pleading his conscience. He presented several writings, at first to palliate his opinions, and afterwards to confess and abjure them; in consideration of which the magistrates of Geneva sentenced him only to throw his writings into the fire with his own hands, and to engage not to stir out of the city without permission. This sentence was executed the 2d of September 1558. He was discharged from prison a few days after; and on the petition which he presented, alleging his inability to give bail, he was excused from it; but they obliged him to swear that he would not go out of Geneva without the consent of the magistrates. Notwithstanding all this, he made his escape, and went to Lyons, and afterwards wandered about from place to place in Dauphirie and Savoy; but being every where obnoxious, he returned to the village whither he first retired, in the territory of the canton of Bern. He was quickly known there, and put in prison; but he was set at liberty in a few days, and published a confession of faith supported by some proofs, and some invectives against St. Athanasius. About the same time he was imprisoned at Lyons for his doctrine; but, being artful enough to persuade them that his design was against Calvin, and not against the mystery of the Trinity, he was discharged. Blandrata and Alciatus, who used their utmost efforts in Poland to establish their errors, invited him to come to them, and assist them in their work; but the king of Poland in 1566 published an edict for the banishing of all strangers who should teach such doctrines. Gentilis retired into Moravia, from whence he went to Vienna, in Austria, and then resolved fo return tp Savoy, where he was again apprehended in June 1566, and the cause being carried to Bern, it was under examination from the 5th of August to the 9th of September. Gentilis being duly convicted of having obstinately and contrary to his oath attacked the mystery of the trinity, was condemned to lose his head, which sentence was accordingly executed at a time when the principles of toleration were little understood. 1

1 Gen. Dict. Life by Aretius, Lond. 1696.