Juan Pérez de Pineda and other Spanish Reformers

Pérez encouraged the Christians in Spain to remember their high privilege of serving the King of kings.

From Paris, Pérez moved to Geneva, where he began the most influential work of his life: the translation of the New Testament, the Psalms, Calvin’s catechism, and a few other Protestant books into Spanish. He also wrote a letter to encourage other Spaniards who suffered under the Inquisition, and a letter to the Spanish king Philip II, asking him to stop the persecution.


In Spain, Martin Luther’s message met the immediate and fierce opposition of both the Roman Catholic Church and the Spanish rulers, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. To repress it, they had already a powerful tool at hand: the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, established in 1478 primarily to identify false converts from Islam and Judaism. This institution became particularly active after 1492, when the Spanish forces defeated the last Muslim stronghold in Spain, the kingdom of Granada.

        Soon, this court became especially strict and cruel against anyone who believed anything different than the church of Rome. If those who had embraced the teachings of Luther wanted to save their lives, they had to flee the country. But the Spanish authorities didn’t let these escapes go undenounced. They made life-size puppets that looked like the fugitives and burned them in a public square as a warning to others.

Pérez’s Studies and Exile

        One of these fugitives was Juan Pérez de Pineda, a native of sunny Andalusia. Nothing is known of his early life. After taking religious orders and earning a doctorate, he entered in the service of Emperor Charles V in Rome, where he lived through the Sack of 1527. There, he was apparently connected with Alfonso de Valdés, brother of the Reformer Juan de Valdés. Both Alfonso and Juan were part of the Alumbrados, a group of believers who sympathized with Erasmus and Luther in their desire to reform the church.

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