Calvin Planned the Wedding Before He Had a Bride

Calvin wanted a wife. He asked several of his friends to help him find one- but he especially depended on Farel to do it. So he wrote him

“Would that it were permitted me to pour out my feelings on your friendly bosom, and again to hear your advice, that we might be better prepared! You have the best opportunity for coming hither, if our hopes respecting the marriage be accomplished, for we expect the maiden immediately after Easter. But if you will really promise me to come, the ceremony shall be put off till your arrival, there being still time enough to let you know the day. First then, I ask it of you, as the greatest kindness, to come; next, that you write word definitively that you will come, for it is necessary, at all events, that some one come to bless the marriage. I would fain however have no one but you. Consider therefore whether I seem worth enough to you to undertake this journey.”

It almost sounds like he is engaged, doesn’t it? Except he isn’t. There isn’t even a prospective wife at this point.

In another letter to Farel, dated June 21, 1540 (MSS. Gen.), there is a strange piece of news respecting the approaching marriage. The time was fixed, Farel invited, but still no bride was there. “The bride is not yet found, and I doubt whether I shall continue to seek one. Claudius and my brother formed a contract for me with a young lady; but three days after they returned, something was told me which induced me to send my brother back, in order to loose me from the engagement.”*

Of course he did eventually marry. But, and this is fair to say, he was a strange dude.

*Paul Henry and Henry Stebbing, The Life and Times of John Calvin, the Great Reformer, vol. 1 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1851), 260–261.