The new rector of the university [of Paris] was Nicholas Cop, the son of a distinguished physician, and a warm friend of Calvin. All Saints’ Day brought with it the duty of delivering the annual oration, and a month after his election, November 1, 1533, before a large audience in the Church of the Mathurins, the new rector spoke after a fashion to injure himself and his friend, John Calvin. Cop had asked Calvin to write the address or to make substantial contributions to it, and the result was, as Beza tells the incident, “Very different kind of oration from the ordinary one, for he spoke of religious matters with great freedom.”
In the speech Calvin made a plea for the New Testament kind of reformation, and boldly attacked the musty theologians of the day as a set of sophists, ignorant of the true Gospel. “They teach nothing of faith, nothing of the love of God, nothing of the remission of grace, nothing of Justification, or if they do so, they pervert and undermine it all by their laws and sophistries. I beg of you, who are here present, not to tolerate any longer these heresies and abuses.”
The word was out and could not be recalled. It was sufficient to rouse against Cop all the ire of the conservatives. The Sorbonne interpreted the address as a manifesto against the Holy Church, and condemned it to the flames. The rector of a month fled to Basel. Calvin fell into their accusation also, so we judge his share in the speech was not a secret. He took temporary refuge in the dwelling of a vine-dresser in the Fauburg St. Victor, changed his clothing, was let down from a window, Pauline fashion, and escaped from Paris carrying a hoe upon his shoulder to perfect his disguise. The police were quick upon his heels, yet found nothing save his books and papers.
And so it began- the career of Calvin the Reformer.