Reformer Piero Mariano Vermigli, known as Peter Martyr, was born on 8 September 1499
at Florence. His father was a wealthy shoemaker and he received a privileged education. Attracted to the Catholic priesthood, he became a novice at the Badia Fiesolana in 1514, a monastery of the reform-minded Lateran Canons.
On completing his novitiate in 1518, he took the name of Peter Martyr, and became a travelling preacher. He learned Hebrew in order to read the Old Testament scriptures in their original language. In 1537, he was elected abbot of the monastery at San Pietro ad Aram in Naples. Having met Juan de Valdès there, he was introduced to the writings of Protestant reformers. At the same time, he continued to rise in the Lateran Congregation. In 1541, he was elected prior of Basilica of San Frediano in Lucca where he initiated a college based on humanist principles. Many of its teachers would later convert to Protestantism, including Immanuel Tremellius.
Lucca gained a reputation of a Protestant haven and action of the Inquisition was inevitable. Vermigli fled Lucca in August 1542. In Strasbourg, he was offered the Chair of Old Testament at the Senior School (precursor of the city’s University) by Martin Bucer. At the time of the Schmalkaldic War (1546/7), Vermigli sought asylum in England. In 1548, he travelled to London in company of Arras-born theologian Pierre Alexandre [pseud.: Simon Alexius] where they were welcomed by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer at Lambeth Palace.
That same year he was appointed the second Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University. His rejection of Catholic doctrines was opposed by conservatives and he was forced to leave Oxford. He took up residence at Lambeth Palace. Following the ascension of Mary I, he was arrested (Cranmer would be executed) but received permission from the Privy Council to leave England. He returned to Strassburg in October 1553, before taking on the Chair of Hebrew at the University of Zurich, a position he would hold until his death in 1562. Vermigli is best known for his Loci communes, a collection of the topical discussions scattered throughout his biblical commentaries, compiled in 1576 Robert Masson (between 1576 and 1656 fifteen editions of the book were published; the Engish version appeared in 1583)).