Perhaps John Calvin’s earliest memory was the tragic death of his mother when he only 4 years old.
We know that at age 11 he was sent to Paris to study at the College de la Marche which prepared him for the University of Paris. He was trained under the greatest Latin teacher of the day, Mathurin Cordier.
At that point he transferred to monastery school, “A strict establishment designed to prepare young men for the priesthood”.
Derek W.H. Thomas writes about the experience there:
“The school was situated on a street known for thieves and cutthroats, with open stinking sewers; the food was sparse and course; and the discipline severe.”
Prayers began at 4 o’clock in the morning, followed by lectures until 6. Following breakfast, the students attended the grand class from 8-10 followed by discussion.
Lunch, Bible study, then prayer.
After mid-day the students were tested on the morning work.
Break from 1-2.
They returned to classes from 3-5.
After dinner, there were more readings until bedtime at 8.
They were given 2 days a week for recreation.
John Calvin then moved to the University of Bourges to study law for 18 months. There he studied Greek and taught rhetoric.
Soon after this, Calvin’s father passed away. He was now 21 years old.
I will comment on his ministry in later posts- but John Calvin’s education prepared him to write a collection of hymns, sermons, books, and letters that fill 59 volumes of the 101 of the Reformation period. He published about 500,000 words!
Every now and then, after I say something about Calvin, one of my students will begin to ‘critique’ him. Every now and then, a bright, bold 17 year old will blast some point of Calvinism as ‘stupid’.
I just look at them, elated in their joy of dogma and debate, and think – “Bless his poor pitiful heart. God, please help him.”
Oh the joy of education- and I laugh.... I was just that way or worse.
Lord, please bless my poor pitiful heart!