Huguenots and Calvinists

The following is translated by me out of O Livro de Ouro da Historia do Brasil (that is, The Golden Book of the History of Brazil), by Mary del Priore and Renato Pinto Venancio with no permission whatsoever. I think y'all will enjoy.

Protestantism had, among us [Brazilians], two significant periods. The first spans the years 1555 to 1560, when the French vice-admiral Nicolau Durand de Villegaignon arrives at the bay of Guanabara to found in the southern hemisphere a colony, Antarctic France, with French Calvinists (Huguenots) embedded in her earth. ... With the assistance of Gaspar de Coligny, noble protector of the Huguenots, Villegaignon established himself in Guanabara with four hundred men attracted by the promise of religious freedom. Plots and uncertainties would soon perturb the government of Antarctic France. Villegaignon mistrusted his own men and the Tamoio indians, his allies. The problems became greater when there arrived a contingent of 280 Calvinist ministers come from Geneva, where they had been commissioned. It appears that the newly-arrived missionaries brought with them letters of recommendation from important religious and political leaders, which made Villegaignon fear for his prestige in France. Upon arrival, this leader received them with gestures of respect, but moving on, shortly thereafter, to criticize them for not using plain bread and undiluted wine at the celebration of the Sacred Supper.

The polemics multiplied. Villegaignon challenged the Calvinist positions on transubstantiation, that is, the transformation of the host into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the invocation of the saints, and purgatory. At last, he prohibited Pierre Richier, one of the pastors licensed by Calvin, from preaching. In the face of all these conflicts, Richier left for Europe with his assistants. Due to the poor conditions of the maritime crossing, some resolved to go back. They were received by a distrustful Villegaignon, who had publicly rejected Calvinism. Obliged to underwrite a declaration concerning some doctrinary points -- entitled Confessio Fluminensis --, they fell into a trap: accused of treason, they were condemned and executed. They were the first martyrs of Protestant creed in America.

The text goes on to relate the failure of Antarctic France, and eventually, of Equinoctal France in Brazil. I loved this account, I guess because Brazil was the last place I would have looked for the first Protestant martyrs in America. And remember, not Protestants who are killed, but martyrs. As a sidenote, the first Roman martyrs in North America were killed in 1646, not long before the tale above unfolds.