That Statue of Zwingli With the Sword and Bible
Here’s, as Paul Harvey used to say, the ‘rest of the story’. A story the partisans of Luther need to know and hear.
The Zwingli festival [of 1884] was not merely an echo of the Luther festival, but was observed throughout the Reformed churches of Europe and America with genuine enthusiasm, and gave rise to an extensive Zwingli literature. It is in keeping with the generous Christian spirit which the Swiss Reformer showed towards the German Reformer at Marburg, that many Reformed churches in Switzerland, as well as elsewhere, heartily united in the preceding jubilee of Luther, forgetting the bitter controversies of the sixteenth century, and remembering gratefully his great services to the cause of truth and liberty.
In the following year (Aug. 25, 1885), a bronze statue was erected to Zwingli at Zürich in front of the Wasserkirche and City Library, beneath the minster where he preached. It represents the Reformer as a manly figure, looking trustfully up to heaven, with the Bible in one hand and the sword in the other,—a combination true to history.
Dr. Alexander Schweizer, one of the ablest Swiss divines (d. July 3, 1888), whose last public service was the Zwingli oration in the University, Jan. 7, 1884, protested against the sword, and left the committee on the monument. Dr. Konrad Ferdinand Meyer, the poet of the occasion, changed the sword of Zwingli, with poetic ingenuity, into the sword of Vokinger, by which he was slain.
Antistes Finsler, in his oration, gave the sword a double meaning, as in the case of Paul, who is likewise represented with the sword, namely, the sword by which he was slain, and the sword of the spirit with which he still is fighting; while at the same time it distinguishes Zwingli from Luther, and shows him as the patriot and statesman.
The sword he holds is the sword with which he was hacked to death by his Papist foes. Finsler, who knew more about Zwingli than nearly anyone ever has, has it right.
NB- Photo above by me.