John Calvin's Chair – Geneva, Switzerland - Atlas Obscura

John Calvin's Chair

Cathédrale de Saint-Pierre

A plain wooden seat that once belonged to one of the most prominent figures of the Protestant Reformation. 


In the Cathédrale de Saint-Pierre in Geneva, Switzerland, a high-backed wooden chair sits in a place of honor. It’s roped off so that nobody can sit in the seat, where the French preacher John Calvin sat more than 500 years ago.

Geneva was an important city during the Protestant Reformation in the early 16th century. Calvin was one of the movement’s most prominent figures, which saw many people break from the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. Eventually, the theology that he helped establish became known as Calvinism.

Calvin arrived in Geneva in 1536, just a few years after he formally broke from the Catholic Church. From the pulpit at St. Pierre Cathedral, he preached about the importance of religious scriptures and the concept of predestination, which held that certain people were set on a path for salvation from the very beginning of their lives. 

The chair of Calvin is a plain-looking wooden chair with a trapezoidal base and narrow backrest. In many ways, it looks underwhelming, but that is exactly what Calvin was going for, given that his stream of Protestantism rejected the grandeur and opulence of the Catholic church.

Know Before You Go

The chair can be found inside the St. Pierre Cathedral. It moves from time to time, but usually can be found on the far left side.

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September 14, 2022

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