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Personalities & Contemporary Witnesses

Huldrych Zwingli


Huldrych Zwingli

 Ulrich (actually Huldrych) Zwingli was born on 1 January 1484 in Wildhaus. His wealthy father made it possible for him to be schooled by private teachers in Basel and Bern. In order to prevent Zwingli from joining the Bern Dominican Order, the family sent him to the secular University of Vienna in 1498. In 1506 Zwingli earned a master's degree in philosophy in Basel. He initially worked as a preacher in Glarus and for several years as a field priest for Swiss mercenaries in Northern Italy.

In 1519 Zwingli was appointed as a lieutenant priest at the Großmünster in Zurich. His sermons were soon strongly influenced by Luther's writings. Encouraged by the success of the Wittenberg reformers, Zwingli publicly criticized the Roman Catholic Church, the church tithe and the marriage ban for priests.

His approval of a public sausage dinner during Lent in 1522 was particularly controversial, as meat was forbidden during the Passion period. On 29 January 1523, the City Council of Zurich approved Zwingli's 67 theses, paving the way for the Reformation. In order to prevent violent outbreaks, Zwingli demanded the gradual abolition of old church customs and the gradual introduction of a new order of worship.

He also worked on spreading the Reformation beyond Zurich to Bern, Basel, Schaffhausen and Mühlhausen. During this time he also wrote one of his most famous writings, the "Commentary on True and False Religion" (1525). In 1529 Zwingli met Martin Luther during the Marburg Religious Talks. The attempt to consolidate the Reformation through an alliance of the two influential reformers throughout Europe failed because of the so-called Last Supper dispute.

Since 1529 Zwingli began to implement the planned changes in Zurich more radically. A council decision forced the citizens to attend church services. Opponents were expelled from the city, Anabaptists were executed and cities loyal to Rome were threatened with war. A peace supposedly concluded with the Five Cities of Central Switzerland during a shared milk soup was therefore only short-lived.

In the summer of 1531, Zwingli urged the Alliance of Reformed Villages to wage war against those loyal to Rome and ordered an unsuccessful food ban. On October 11, 1531, the Catholics at Kappel achieved a devastating victory. 500 Zurich citizens lost their lives, including Ulrich Zwingli. He died a field preacher with a sword in his hand.

Source: www.luther2017.de / Staatliche Geschäftsstelle „Luther 2017“


Born on 1 January 1484 in Wildhaus
Died on 11 October 1531 in Kappel am Albis
First Zurich Reformer
Dispute with Luther about the proper understanding of the Holy Communion

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