Zwingli’s Death

Zwingli's Death at KappelZwingli perished on 11 October, 1531.  Here’s how he spent his last moments:

In the faithful discharge of his duty as chaplain he was stooping down to offer a consoling word to a fallen comrade when a large stone, hurled by a Waldstätter, struck him on the side of the head, near the temple, and he sank insensible to the ground. When he regained consciousness and attempted to rise, a soldier who was passing by stabbed him with his spear. Contemplating the wound, as his life-blood flowed from it, he exclaimed, “What does it matter! They may kill the body, but they cannot kill the soul.”  These were his last words.

zwingli_deathAfter the battle, a Forester searching among the dead and wounded approached the spot where Zwingli lay. The Reformer’s hands were clasped and his eyes, which were directed toward heaven, wore the fixed expression of one hovering between life and death. In the dim light of his torch the Forester perceived that the wounded man’s lips were moving as if in prayer. Not knowing that it was Zwingli, he offered to fetch a priest to absolve his sins. Unable to speak, Zwingli declined the offer by a slight motion of his head. By this time a little group had assembled around the fallen but unrecognized Reformer, and inferring that he was of the Reformed faith from his continued refusal to accept priestly mediation, all joined in reviling him.

At length one of the bystanders, an officer from Unterwalden, more zealous and cruel than the others, drew his sword and gave the dying man a fatal thrust. Thus, in the very prime of manhood, in the very flower of his usefulness, perished the Reformer of Zurich, the man who, as co-laborer with Luther in the Reformation of the Church, is entitled to share with him in large measure the credit and distinction of having been the founder of the movement.*


You can check out more stuff from and about Zwingli here.  That should give you something to do on this lovely Saturday while you’re between ballgames and hotdogs.  And if you’re looking for a simple yet accurate (i.e., one that isn’t skewed by Lutheran misinformation) biography of Zwingli, then this is for you.  Or if you’re a Logos user, you can check it out here.

*Life of Ulrich Zwingli: The Swiss Patriot and Reformer (pp. 273–275).