Below is the sobering account of the last hours of John Calvin’s wife, Idelette. What a mix of emotions I feel as a husband as I read of Calvin sharing the gospel with his wife one last time before she sees Jesus face to face.
Idelette saw the approach of death with calmness. Her soul was unshaken in the midst of her sufferings, which were accompanied by frequent faintings. When she could not speak, her look, her gestures, the expression of her face, revealed sufficiently the faith which strengthened her in her last hour. On the morning of April 6th, a pastor named Bourgoin addressed to her pious exhortation. She joined in broken exclamations, which seemed an anticipation of heaven: “O glorious resurrection! O God of Abraham and our fathers!… Hope of Christians for so many ages, in thee I hope.”
At 7 o’clock in the morning she fainted again; and, feeling that her voice was about to fail, “Pray,” said she, “O my friends, pray for me!” Calvin approaching her bedside, she showed her joy by her looks. With emotion he spoke to her of the grace that is in Christ; of the earthly pilgrimage; of the assurance of a blessed eternity; and closed by a fervent prayer. Idelette followed his words, listened attentively to the holy doctrine of salvation in Jesus crucified. About nine o’clock she breathed her last sigh, but so peacefully that it was for some moments impossible to discover if she ceased to live, or if she was asleep.
Such is the account Calvin gives to his colleagues of the death of his beloved wife.
Thomas Smyth, Calvin and His Enemies: A Memoir of the Life, Character, and Principles of Calvin. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 178-79.
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