Zwingli’s Not So Secret Marriage

annabullingerZwingli was openly married in April, 1524, to Anna Reinhart, a respectable widow, and mother of several children, after having lived with her about two years before in secret marriage. But this fact, which Janssen construes into a charge of “unchaste intercourse,” was known to his intimate friends; for Myconius, in a letter of July 22, 1522, sends greetings to Zwingli and his wife (“Vale cum uxore quam felicissime et tuis omnibus,” Opera, VII. 210; and again: “Vale cum uxore in Christo,” p. 253). The same is implied in a letter of Bucer, April 14, 1524 (p. 335; comp. the note of the editors).

“The cases,” says Moerikofer (I. 211), “were very frequent at that time, even with persons of high position, that secret marriages were not ratified by a religious ceremony till weeks and months afterwards.” Before the Council of Trent secret marriages were legitimate and valid. (Can. et Decr. Conc. Trid., Sess. XXIV., Decr. de reform. matrimonii.)

Zwingli, like everyone else, was a child of his times. He can scarcely be criticized for his marital decisions any more than he can be criticized for his inability to fly a plane or drive a car.
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*Philip Schaff and David Schley Schaff, History of the Christian Church (vol. 8; New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1910), 29.