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Guillaume Farel

1489-1565. French Reformer. Born at Gap in Dauphiné, he went in 1509 to Paris where he studied under Jacques Lefèvre d'étaples (J. Faber Stapulensis). By about 1520 his humanist training led him to adopt reforming ideas. Soon after this he began to assist in the reform of the diocese of Meaux under Bishop Briçonnet. In 1523 he was influenced by radical ideas on the Eucharist stemming from the treatise of Cornelius Hoen, which Farel may have translated into French. In the same year growing intolerance and persecution led to his expulsion from France. In 1524 he was involved with Oecolampadius* in a disputation in Basle, but his fiery attacks on the theological faculty soon led to his expulsion. He also visited Strasbourg, Montbéliard, and Neuchãtel.

From 1526 he became the leader of a peripatetic band of evangelists preaching mainly in French-speaking Switzerland. His own fiery preaching often led to rough handling by mobs of opponents. He took part in the disputation which won the city of Berne to the Reformation in 1528. Thereafter he received support from Berne in his preaching activities in the Pays de Vaud. In 1532 he began to evangelize Geneva, and in 1535 that city accepted the Reformation. Farel was instrumental in persuading John Calvin to serve the church in that city in 1536. With Calvin, he was expelled from Geneva in 1538. Farel now made Neuchãtel his base and spent many years there working in close harmony with Calvin. In 1558 Farel married a young girl, and for a time there was coolness between Calvin and himself, but in 1564 the rift was healed on Calvin's deathbed. Throughout the long years in Neuchãtel, Farel continued to undertake evangelistic work in France, especially at Metz where he died.