top of page



The window is in honor of John Calvin, in essence the founder of the Presbyterian Church. Calvin was born in 1509 in Noyon, France, and died in 1564 in Geneva, Switzerland. He studied theology in Paris, but seemed to have doubts on his priestly vocation. Calvin decided to switch to law and came under the influence of Protestants. He broke with the Roman Catholic Church in 1533 after a religious experience in which he believed he had received a mission to restore the Church to its original purity.

Danger from an outbreak of persecution led him to flee to Basel where he intended to devote his life to study. He wrote a massive Institutes of the Christian Religion comprising 80 chapters. The treatise is a clear and systematic exposition of Calvin’s fundamental beliefs. It soon became the textbook of Reformed theology, its central doctrines being the absolute sovereignty of God, the bases of all Christian faith in the Word of God revealed in Scriptures, and the inability of humankind to find salvation apart from the free grace of God. The book in Calvin’s left hand in the window must be either the Bible or the Institutes.

In 1536 Calvin traveled through Geneva and was asked to lead with Farel the Protestant movement in that city. He became the stern taskmaster of Geneva requiring from all citizens a profession of faith approved by the town council, the refusal of which was to be punished by exile. Two years later Farel and Calvin was themselves expelled from the city. Calvin then ministered a church in Strassburg.

In 1541 Calvin returned to Geneva by request, his friends having gained the upper hand once more. He organized the city along strict moralistic lines, wrote prolifically especially commentaries on the Bible, and preached several times a week. He also founded the Academy of Geneva through which his teachings had a profound impact throughout Europe and especially in Scotland, which became the chief bastion of the Presbyterian Church.

bottom of page