Michael Servetus Arrives in Calvin's Geneva Without an Invitation

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Michael Servetus, a fugitive from ecclesiastical authorities elsewhere in Europe, arrives in Geneva, a city currently under the reforming ministry of John Calvin.

A Spanish physician and Protestant theologian, Servetus has been highly critical of a number of basic Catholic doctrines like the Trinity and infant baptism. He has been expelled from a number of cities and there is an order for his arrest from the Inquisition.

Despite sharing a number of common critiques of the Catholic Church, they are also very much at odds. Servetus once sent to John Calvin a copy of his book The Institutes of the Christian Religion that he had annotated with descriptions of errors he claimed Calvin had made — and Calvin is not the sort who accepts such criticism graciously.

It's not known why exactly Michael Servetus has stopped in Geneva — the city isn't his actual destination because he's traveling to Italy. He had previously stated his intentions to come to Geneva if Calvin would permit and Calvin said that not only could he not guarantee safe passage for Servetus, but if he had the authority Servetus would not leave Geneva alive.

That's exactly what happens: Calvin has Michael Servetus arrested, sentenced to death, and next month he will be burned alive on a pyre made up from his own books.

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