On Shrove Tuesday, 1523, in Lucerne, the Papists Burned Zwingli in Effigy

zwingli98Here’s the account, followed by the letter Zwingli wrote to his friends in Lucerne-

… the five cantons of Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, and Zug, appeared to be the fittest instruments [of Satan in his effort to quench the Reformation]. Here an ignorant and corrupt clergy wielded a fatal power over the conscience, while adroit and reckless demagogues, who in foreign military service had gained themselves riches and standing at the cost of their sacrificed country, guided with violence or cunning according to the caprice or exigencies of the moment the Councils and the communities. Freiburg in Uechtland and Wallis formed a close league with all these papal cantons. Berne hovered between the papacy and the gospel, a vacillation which arose from the circumstance that a large part of the nobility were averse to evangelical preaching because of its forbidding foreign service.

This party, hostile to the Reformer, and which, in the Confederate Diet, formed an overwhelming majority, was to be employed by Faber and the Romish Legate for suppressing Zwingli and his work. Already had the resolution been come to under this influ ence at a Diet in Berne to take the Reformer prisoner wherever he could be met with out of Zurich.

What his fate would have been, a carnival sport enacted at Lucerne, in the presence of a vast concourse of people, shews. A man of straw, with Zwingli’s name affixed to it, was dragged to the place of public execution, and there burned as a heretic. Some inhabitants of Zurich, who happened to be in Lucerne at the time, were forced to witness the malicious spectacle.

Zwingli, on hearing of this display of spite, wrote to his friends, Zimmermann and Kirchmeier, in Lucerne : “I rejoice that I have been thought worthy among you to suffer shame for the name of Christ. I have, thank God, improbable as it may seem, borne no insult with greater equanimity than this. Your hope must ever grow more and more that Christ will not forsake His own.”*

Here’s the text of the letter

Fratres carissimi, non est, quod vos multis turbem, ipse multis obrutus negociis, eos, quibus paucissima possunt satisfacere, quam quod unum hoc vobis significari cupio nos vehementer exultare, quod pro nomine Christi digni habiti sumus apud vestros contumeliam pati [Act. 5. 41]. Res creditu certe difficilis; sed gratia deo, nihil unquam adversitatis ęquanimius tulimus; unde vobis spes maxima nasci debet Christum suis nunquam defuturum.

Audio praeterea decanum apud vos, nescio quę axiomata promulgaturum contra me, ut defendat. Ibi ante omnia opus est, ut tuto possint omnes, quotquot veritatem quęsituri sunt, loqui, quę ad eam inveniendam faciant, fraudique non esse, quicquid liberius etiam dixerint, modo intra mensuram integritatis Christianę sese contineant. Quicquid in ea re certi indicare potestis, oro, ut indicetis.

Tabellio iste tutus est et fidus. Miratus sum vehementer tanto me tempore nihil literarum a vobis accipere; sed mirari desino, qum omnia, quę apud vos aguntur, contemplor. Servet vos Christus optimus maximus incolumes cum ossibus vestris, quas et salvas esse iubeo.

Ex Tiguro prima Martii M.D.xxiij.
[Domi meę non scripsi, ideo sigillum nostrum non indidi. Signa sint, Ioannes Xilotecte, quod contentionem Eremi inter te et N. ortam diremi, et Iodoce, quod tecum in Wolfgangi domo cęnavi. Ex domo Leonis Iudae.]
Huldrichus Zuinglius.

Meister Johansen Zimerman oder Josten Kilchmeyer, korherren zuo Lucern, sinen getrüwen. – Gen Lucern.

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*Zwingli: THE RISE OF THE REFORMATION IN SWITZERLAND. A LIFE OF THE REFORMER, WITH SOME NOTICES OF HIS TIME AND CONTEMPORARIES, By R. CHRISTOFFEL (London: 1858).

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