Ulrich Zwingli

Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) – In the years of the Reformation while Luther and his protests against the Roman Catholic Church were taking place in Germany, the same was happening in Switzerland. Ulrich Zwingli, who served as parish priest in Glarus and Einsiedeln, Switzerland, began to see in his study of the Scriptures how the Roman Church had parted from them.

As he immersed himself in the Greek New Testament which had been translated by Erasmus, Zwingli’s preaching began to take on an evangelical tone. In 1519 he became the pastor of the church in Zurich and instead of following the prescribed texts of the lectionary, he taught from the Gospels. He continued teaching what he found in the Bible, even when it differed from the rituals and doctrine of the Roman Church. At the time Zwingli had no intention of breaking from the Catholic Church. But in 1522 it all came to a head when some of his parishioners defied the rule of eating no meat during Lent–and Zwingli supported them in a sermon on freedom.

The following year the city of Zurich convened a pubic debate on the matters concerning the church. Zwingli’s views on faith and doctrine prevailed, and the council decreed that Zwingli should, “continue to proclaim the holy gospel and the pure holy scriptures in accordance with his capabilities.”  Over the next two years reforms continued until in a final break from the Catholic Church, the mass was replaced by a simple service in which preaching was emphasized.

In 1529 Zwingli met with Martin Luther in hopes of drawing the Reformed movement together and uniting the two Protestant bodies. However, differences between the two actually resulted in a greater split. It could be said that the seeds of denominations were sown as a result of this.

Zwingli still faced Catholic opposition, and in 1531 fighting broke out in rural areas. Zwingli joined the Zurich troops and died in battle on October 11, 1531. His body was dismembered and disgraced by his enemies.